Climate change affects everyone and everything. It doesn't just affect those living in urban areas where there is high pollution rates. Climate change affects those living in the country, too. It affects water, and the humans and animals who depend on it, it affects the air we all breathe, and it affects the vegetation we eat and the habitats where we live.
There are those who don't believe that climate change is real. Hopefully, however, I think by now most folks understand that science can back up their claims with cold hard facts.
So what is climate change? Due to burning of fossil fuels, the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased significantly. Though presence of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases is necessary to produce greenhouse effect in order to sustain life but an enhanced greenhouse effect is trapping more of the sun’s heat pushing the climate system off the track. Since industrial revolution, the emissions of greenhouse gases from vehicles, coal power plants and other man-made sources has increased significantly. Climate Change is a huge issue in our world today and we should learn as much as possible about it.
I've assembled some amazing facts about climate change and its devastating affect on the place we all call home. Many of these things may already know. Some, you may not. I hope that you'll share this information with any non-believers that you know.
1. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and other agencies all agree that climate change is real and is caused primarily by human activity.
2. Global average temperature is currently 14°C. Scientists predict that it could go up another 6°C in the 21st century if not stopped.
3. Although the Earth has seen higher temperatures than those of today, the rate of warming has now destabilized and accelerated, creating conditions in which humans will find it increasingly difficult to thrive.
4. 2014 was recorded as the world’s hottest year in history. While the rise in temperature was worldwide, the hottest spots included western US, eastern Russia stretching into Alaska, spots in the South American interior, and most of Europe all the way down to northern Africa.
5. Cold weather or snow doesn’t mean global temperatures aren’t rising – just the opposite. Warmer climates mean more water vapor in the air, which in turn means more rain and snow in the long run.
6. The US is the highest contributor to greenhouse gases. In 2013, the most greenhouse gases were emitted by industrial activities – 29%. Transportation emitted the second most, followed by commercial and residential activities. Agricultural activities emitted the least, at 10%.
7. Deforestation releases nearly 15% of the carbon in the atmosphere.
8. Evidence of climate change includes increased heat and cold waves, droughts and storms resulting in more severe flooding. Melting sea ice causing raised sea levels is also another indicator.
9. Even a small rise in the sea level has far-ranging effects, swallowing acres of coastline, displacing countless humans and animals and destroying millions of dollars worth of property. Before the end of the 21st century, sea levels have been slated to rise 7 to 23 inches, with sea levels rising the fastest along parts of the US East Coast.
10. Effects of climate change also include lower crop yield, slower stream flow, lower lake levels and more incidents of wildfire.
11. Climate change has increased the number and variety of pests that spread diseases such as dengue and malaria. Climate change causes more than 600,000 deaths annually, some of them because of diseases caused by rising temperatures.
12. Disease is also spread by contamination of water transported to drought stricken areas. Water borne diseases spread by floods have killed more than three million people since 2005.
13. Food prices have risen and will continue to rise by nearly 60% by 2030, due to the effects of climate change on crops and livestock.
And if THAT'S no depressing (and scary) enough, check out these facts on climate change and animals:
1. Ice in the Arctic region may melt by as early as 2040, forcing polar bears, walruses, belugas, narwhals, bowheads, caribou and wild reindeer into extinction.
2. One in six animal species are expected to be lost due to climate change. The first species lost was the Golden Toad. Hardest hit will be species that eat a limited range of food or those who live in fast-altering environments like deserts and the ocean.
3. More than a million species face extinction due to disappearing habitats, ocean acidification and changing ecosystems.
4. Climate change is altering key habitat elements that are critical to wildlife's survival and putting natural resources in jeopardy.
5. Melting arctic ice removes hunting ground from Polar Bears. Warmer water temperatures will cause population declines for trout, salmon and many other species that require cold water to survive. Rising ocean temperatures have already caused massive coral bleaching, leading to the collapse of these ecosystems which sustain huge numbers of fish.
6. Severe droughts stress and can kill plants on which wildlife depend for food and shelter, and deprives wildlife of water sources.
7. Climate change has altered food availability for migratory species; birds arrive on schedule to find their food sources--insects, seeds, flowering plants--have hatched or bloomed too early or not at all. Milder winters cause seasonal food caches to spoil, so wildlife species like the Gray Jay depending on food stores to survive the winter are left without sustenance.
8. Droughts caused by global warming could dry up 90 percent of central U.S. wetlands, eliminating essential breeding habitat for ducks, geese and other migratory species. Rising sea level and changes in salinity could decimate mangrove forests, leaving many fish, shellfish, and other wildlife without a place to breed, feed or raise offspring.
9. Often overlooked, just as important as the many ways in which our climate is changing, is that it is changing so fast and thus the need to address global warming. Species may not be able to adapt to this rapid climate change or to move fast enough to more suitable areas as their current areas become less suitable for them. Unless significant action is taken now, global warming will likely become the single most important factor to affect wildlife since the emergence of mankind.
Ask any critter. We've known for a long time that the world is careening down the path of no return. But it's not too late to put on the brakes. We all need to work together to protect our home. Now, more than ever.
But there is a little good news. Something can be done about climate change; be it on a large-scale level via governments, businesses and communities through to an individual effort to reduce greenhouse gas emission. It's not too late....yet.
Watch for the website livebyparis.com coming soon. It's a community where cities, states, communities and individuals can come together and work to improve the environment...not only for us but for future generations of humans and critters.
Thank you for taking your valuable time to read this. It's important to me and, I hope, to you as well. Enjoy your weekend and please stay safe. Peace.