Scientific and statistical evidence indicate that the earth’s climate has been changing over the decades. This evidence includes increase in global temperatures and the rising sea level. Surface temperatures have been increasing since the 1880s. The highest increases in global temperatures were recorded after 1980. Increases in surface temperatures have caused decreases in ice sheets and increases in ocean temperatures. Ice sheets in Greenland, Arctic, and Antarctic have been decreasing in mass as parts of the ice melt due to high surface temperatures. Glacier retreats in different parts of the world including Africa, Alps, Alaska and Himalayas are evidence of global climate changes. Different regions in the world have experienced extreme weather conditions such as large amounts of rainfall and extremely low temperatures, acidic ocean waters and decreases in snow cover.
Causes of Global Climate Change
Scientists argue that most of the changes in the global climate are manmade. The debate on the causes of global warming has been going for many decades. Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases result from industrial activities and deforestation. Greenhouse gases such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide cause the earth’s atmosphere to absorb and retain heat instead of releasing it. Global summits have encouraged nations to reduce their production of greenhouse gases but global temperatures have continued to rise despite the efforts.
Over-reliance on coal in developing countries as a fuel has increased deforestation level, which in turn has affected weather patterns. Other causes of climate change include changes in the reflection of the sun’s energy on the earth’s atmosphere and solar output. A decrease or increase in the sun’s energy will cause variations in global temperatures. Volcanic eruptions cause short-term changes in the earth’s temperature.
The Effects of Climate Change
Increases in global temperatures have led to changes in sea levels, ice sheets, snow covers and weather patterns. Future changes in the earth’s climate are likely to cause further changes on the environment. Rainfall patterns and distribution are likely to change as temperature increase. Extreme weather conditions are likely to be more common and frequent across the globe including heavy rains and floods. Climatic changes affect the growth and development of plants. If current climatic changes persist, countries will continue to experience changes in supply of food. Drought and famine may be more severe in developing countries in the future. Decreases in ocean waters affect marine plants and animals. Increases in oceanic acidity and temperatures threaten marine life as well.