Global Warming Countdown: How long do we have?
The effects of global warming continue to appear throughout the planet as sea levels rise, glaciers shrink and the earth’s average temperature increases. During the 20th century alone, Earth’s average temperature has increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. While a 2-degree increase may not seem worrisome, even a slight change in temperature can have a major effect on the planet.
According to recent global warming facts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), worldwide temperatures are expected to increase by 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the next century. Experts believe that human activity and the growing demands of modern-day life are responsible for these global temperature increases.
If we do not explore different ways to reduce carbon emissions globally, scientists believe that additional evidence of global warming will include greater heat waves, stronger hurricanes and rising sea levels. These changes will be detrimental to humans and world-wide ecosystems. Our water and food supply will shrink, and we will experience greater catastrophic weather conditions.
Read on to learn more about the greenhouse gas effect and the different scenarios that could occur if we do not begin to reduce our global carbon footprint while making changes in our daily lives.
Predictions From the National Climate Change Report
Contrary to President Donald Trump’s global warming statements, in which the president called global warming a “Chinese hoax,” more than half of all voters believe that climate change is an important issue that needs to be addressed. According to a recent survey conducted by Yale and George Mason University, approximately 69 percent of Americans believe in the effects of global warming. Additionally, 55 percent believe that most of these changes are caused by human activity.
To help Americans understand the most important global warming causes and effects that need to be addressed, a team of more than 300 experts produced a National Climate Assessment that summarizes the future effects of climate change. While many Americans are already observing some of these changes firsthand, other effects will appear throughout the remainder of the century and beyond.
The Greenhouse Effect Will Result in Rising Temperatures
According to global warming 2030 predictions made by the IPCC, human activities will likely cause global warming to rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) between the years 2030 and 2052 unless we address the main causes of climate change and begin to reduce the amount of emissions and heat-trapping gases we produce.
A warming of just 1.5 degrees Celsius could contribute to:
- Longer and more severe heat waves.
- A 9 percent decrease in freshwater.
- Much heavier rainfall.
- Reduced production of staple crops (wheat, corn, etc.)
- A sea level rise of more than 1 foot.
A warming of 2 degrees Celsius would result in:
- A 2-foot rise in sea levels.
- A drastic decrease in staple crop production (wheat, corn, etc.)
- Intense heat waves lasting more than one month.
- An extreme decrease in freshwater availability.
Carbon Emissions Will Lead to Severe Weather Conditions
According to the National Climate Change Report, the U.S. has experienced many effects of global warming throughout the past 50 years. Recent evidence of global warming includes excessive heat waves and droughts, severe flooding and heavy rainfall. For instance:
- Between 2011 and 2012, the U.S. experienced three times as many heat waves as usual.
- In 2011, Texas and Oklahoma endured temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Since the 1960s, heavy rainfall has increased in the Midwest, Northeast and Upper Greater Plains.
- Since the 1950s, the frequency and intensity of winter storms has increased.
- Since the early 1980s, Atlantic hurricane activity has also increased. It is expected to worsen.
While the effects of global warming and climate change have been visible for some time, experts predict that the biggest changes will appear in our lifetime. However, the extent to which these changes will occur will depend largely on the amount of carbon gases that are emitted into the air as time goes on.
Other Greenhouse Effect Predictions
Recent global warming facts and statistics tell us that the Arctic Ocean will likely lose all of its ice in the next 20 years. This has direct implications for wildlife, but it also puts our coastlines in harm’s way. As the earth warms and land ice melts, the water will make its way into the ocean. This means sea levels will continue to rise, potentially flooding major metropolitan areas.
Global warming will also make sea water expand, further increasing the risk of coastline flooding. In fact, sea levels could rise by more than 1 yard in as little as 80 years.
Other projections made by climate experts include the following:
- The world’s fisheries could be about 20 percent less productive by the year 2300.
- Global poverty could affect an additional 100 million individuals by the year 2300, resulting in more income disparity.
- Rising temperatures and other climate changes could result in an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050.
- By 2050, the effects of global warming will require more than half of all bird species in North America to change their habitats.
- As sea levels continue to rise, the Chesapeake Bay Islands could vanish by the year 2070.
- For every degree of global warming between the years 2080 and 2099, U.S. agricultural yields could decline by 9 percent.
In an effort to slow these detrimental effects of climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recommends transitioning to all-electric vehicles, reducing food and municipal waste and walking or biking to destinations whenever possible.
However, there is only so much that the average consumer can do to stop or reverse climate change. An effective long-term solution to global warming needs to address food waste and manufacturing practices in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
Without grappling with the effects that our food-consumption habits and current manufacturing processes are having on the world, global warming will continue to worsen, perhaps to the point that we will be unable to do anything about it.