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Most scientists believe that the warming of the climate will lead to more extreme weather patterns such as hurricanes, super storms, and drought. We'll also see longer spells of dry heat or intense rain (depending on where you are in the world). The world’s oceans are approaching 27 degrees C or warmer during the summer. This change increases the odds of major storms.
The warmer temperatures are causing the surface water of the Great Lakes to increase in temperature, causing a shorter duration of ice cover. In fact, over the past forty years the amount of ice covering the lakes has declined about seventy-one percent. The lakes are also seeing increased levels of evaporation and combined with the various side-effects of climate change, the result is lower water levels for the Great Lakes.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, wildfires in the U.S. will be at least twice as destructive by 2050, burning around 20 million acres nationwide each year. Also, the Rocky Mountain forests are expected to become hotter and drier as the planet warms, conditions that in addition to wildfires will lead to an increase in infestations of insects such as the bark beetle, which has already destroyed tens of millions of acres of U.S. forests.
The United Nations warns that one in six countries in the world face food shortages because of severe droughts that could become semi-permanent under climate change. Likewise, we'll see a significant impact upon crop yields. Cattle also do not respond well to the hotter temperatures and the result is already being seen in the dairy and beef industries.
Increased hotter days are hard on the body, from allergies to respiratory and heart conditions. Increasing numbers of pests and disease are also feared. Malaria is one of those diseases. Communities in Africa have historically built their villages based on the “mosquito” line to keep them safe, but because of global warming those lines are moving and safety from mosquitoes may not be possible.
Millions of years ago carbon dioxide levels were higher, but today’s changes are occurring more rapidly, leaving less time for marine organisms to adapt. Other related problems include more oceanic dead zones and areas where there is too little oxygen in the sea to support life.
When heated, water expands and sea levels are expected to rise due to climate change. Rising sea levels are also already affecting many small Pacific islands as well as coastal towns. A large mass of humanity lives near the coasts or by major rivers, and unfortunately, many cities are unprepared for climate change effects such as rising sea levels. Erosion is also increasing and is already affecting homes as well as wildlife patterns.
A lot of wildlife species are vulnerable to climate change and the effects are already being realized. In fact, it is predicated that as many as 37% of all species are being pushed towards extinction in the next 50 years. Something else to watch for is how wildlife species life cycles relate to each other. For example, are their worms available for robins? This is called phenology. Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events, such as flower blooms and animal migration, which is influenced by changes in climate.
Plants and Animals
Climate change affects almost every aspect of our lives. Below you will see main categories of what is affected by climate change as well as a basic explanation. In the future, we will be expanding this section with more details of what has already been affected and what will be affected in the future.