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The Effects on Global Warming: What is Happening to Our Planet

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If everyone in the world lived like the average person in the United States, it would take about 5 Earths to provide enough resources for everyone. This overuse of resources has its consequences. The United States is the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. In 2018, the United States produced 5.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gasses. That is about how much the European Union in third place, and India in fourth place, generated combined. When these greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, they absorb the sunlight and radiation that bounces off the Earth’s surface. Normally, this radiation would escape into space, but these pollutants trap it, causing the planet to get hotter. Therefore, we have global warming. This change leads to other dangerous effects. Some of the most dangerous effects of global warming are rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity and habitat, and declining human health.

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One of the most prominent effects on global warming is rising sea levels. With the rise of temperature, ice caps and glaciers start to melt. This adds to the amount of water in the oceans, increasing sea levels. Global mean sea level has risen about 8-9 inches since 1880, with about a third of that coming in just the last two and a half decades. In this line, the author says that we have seen a rise of approximately 8-9 inches in the past 140 years, and almost 3 inches in the last 25 years alone. This statistic is important because it shows us that the sea levels are rising exponentially. As the water temperature rises, we also see a phenomenon called thermal expansion. In this case, as the water heats up, it expands, leading to higher sea levels. As this heat is absorbed, ocean temperatures rise and water expands. We know this warming has continued, causing roughly one-third of the global sea-level rise observed by satellite altimeters since 2004. This line says that the heat being absorbed is leading to the expansion of water molecules and has caused about one-third of the global sea-level rise. This is an issue because humanity has historically settled next to water bodies. Currently, it is estimated that 40% of the United States population lives in relatively high population-density coastal areas. In these areas, the sea level plays a role in the flooding, shoreline erosion, and damages caused by storms.

Furthermore, global warming also leads to a loss of habitats. Habitats are changing on both land and sea making them inhospitable for certain species and allowing others to occupy those lands, putting ecosystems at risk of collapsing. This can be seen in Coral reefs. They are highly sensitive to small changes in the water temperature. The heat makes it harder for the algae to nourish the corals and provide their vibrant colors, eventually leaving the corals. This leads to the corals eventually starving, which is known as coral bleaching. This has been happening to the Great Barrier Reef recently.  This line shows that as the planet warms up, we start to see effects almost immediately. Coral reefs are also home to many other species and their collapse would disrupt the ecosystem severely. Global warming is also affecting the artic. With the loss of glaciers and sea ice, ice-dependent mammals like walruses and polar bears struggle to survive. Due to climate change, ice cover is changing rapidly, in both surface area and depth. It is shrinking too quickly for these species to adapt. By 2100, polar bears could face starvation and reproductive failure even in far northern Canada. This shows how drastic the change has been. Polar bears are the apex predators in the arctic ecosystem and are a good representation of the overall health of the system. These bears are one of the first animals to be classified as an endangered species because of climate change. These polar bears are also showing other signs of climate-change-related stress as the survival rates of both old and young bears are dropping.

Additionally, Global warming also affects human health, the economy, and economic activity. Global warming warms the air in the atmosphere, increasing the formation of ground-level ozone, often referred to as smog. This smog when inhaled starts to irritate the lung and can trigger asthma attacks. Air quality is currently responsible for 7 million premature deaths annually, extensive crop loss and biodiversity declines in Europe, North America, and Asia. It contributes to climate change and is highly policy-relevant. This line shows how drastic the effects of air pollution can be to humans, and since global warming further reduces air quality, it contributes to that number. Another concern associated with pollution is the increase in the number of forest fires caused due to a warmer overall atmosphere. The smoke from these fires also further degrade air quality. Climate change also can create shortages in food. Rising temperatures have also started to impact agriculture. Food is grown considering the climates’normal patters. Recently, however, the rise in temperatures has started to change historical weather patterns. Climate-related impacts on agriculture could lead to an overall global decline in food availability, the research suggests, forcing people to eat fewer fruits and vegetables and less meat. And the public health impacts of these changes could be severe. This explains the potential issues people will have to deal with if the climate continues to get warmer. Farmers across the world have been struggling to keep up with the changing weather patterns and unpredictable water supplies. They are also dealing with attacks on their farms from weeds, diseases, and pests, which affect the yield.

In conclusion, global warming is a very serious issue, and if the people don’t work collectively to stop it, then there would be severe consequences like the sea levels rising, animals losing their habitat, leading to a loss of biodiversity, and loss of economic productivity and human health. Sea levels rising hurt infrastructure. Most of our largest cities and a large portion of the world’s population live beside oceans and seas. The levels rising will lead to flooded cities and severe loss of infrastructure and habitable land. Rising temperatures also lead to changes in habitats, which impact the animals living in them. Animals cannot survive student changes in the ecosystem and start to go extinct due to this leading to a loss of biodiversity. This allows for other species to take over the changing environment, ruining the ecological balance. Warmer air also leads to increased ground-level ozone formation which is harmful to human health. It also affects the weather patterns, harming agriculture, which can also lead to a lack of food and loss off overall economic activity.   

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