Spread of Diseases Due to Global WarmingGlobal warming will also enhance the spread of diseases. As northern countries warm, disease-carrying insects migrate north, carrying viruses with them that we have not yet built immunity for. For example, in Kenya, where significant temperature increases have been recorded, disease-bearing mosquito populations have increased in once cooler, highland areas. Malaria is now becoming a nation-wide epidemic.
Floods and Droughts and Global WarmingStrong shifts in precipitation patterns will ensue as global warming progresses. Some areas of the earth will become wetter, while others will experience heavy droughts. Since warmer air brings heavier storms, there will be an increased chance of stronger and more life-threatening storms. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate, Africa, where water is already a scarce commodity, will have less and less water with warmer temperatures and this issue could even lead to more conflict and war.
Global warming has caused heavy rains in the United States due to warmer air having the ability to hold more water vapor than cooler air. Floods that have impacted the United States since 1993 alone have caused over $25 billion in losses. With increased floods and droughts, not only will our safety be affected, but also the economy.
Economic DisasterSince disaster relief takes a heavy toll on the world's economy and diseases are expensive to treat, we will suffer financially with the onset of global warming. After disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, one can only imagine the cost of more hurricanes, floods, and other disasters occurring worldwide.
Population Risk and Unsustainable DevelopmentProjected sea-level rise will greatly affect low-lying coastal areas with large populations in developed and developing countries worldwide. According to National Geographic, the cost of adaptation to a newer climate could result in at least 5% to 10% of gross domestic product. As mangroves, coral reefs, and the general aesthetic appeal of these natural environments are further degraded, there will also be a loss in tourism.
Similarly, climate change impinges on sustainable development. In developing Asian countries, a cyclic disaster occurs between productivity and global warming. Natural resources are needed for heavy industrialization and urbanization. Yet, this industrialization creates immense amounts of greenhouse gases, thus depleting the natural resources needed for further development of the country. Without finding a new and more efficient way to use energy, we will be depleted of our natural resources needed for our planet to thrive.
Future Outlook of Global Warming: What can we do to help?Studies performed by the British government show that to avert potential disaster in relation to global warming, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by approximately 80%. But how can we preserve this vast amount of energy that we are so accustomed to using? There is action in every form from governmental laws to simple everyday tasks that we can do ourselves.
Climate PolicyIn February 2002, the United States government announced a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18% over a 10-year period from 2002-2012. This policy involves reducing emissions through technology improvements and dissemination, improving the efficiency of energy use, and voluntary programs with industry and shifts to cleaner fuels.
Other U.S. and international policies, such as the Climate Change Science Program and the Climate Change Technology Program, have been reinstated with a comprehensive objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through international cooperation. As the governments of our world continue to understand and acknowledge the threat of global warming to our livelihood, we are closer to reducing greenhouse gases to a manageable size.
ReforestationPlants absorb the greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere for photosynthesis, the conversion of light energy into chemical energy by living organisms. Increased forest cover will help plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere and help alleviate global warming. Although having a small impact, this would help reduce one of the most significant greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.
Personal ActionThere are small actions that we can all take in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. First, we can reduce electricity use around the house. The average home contributes more to global warming than the average car. If we switch to energy-efficient lighting, or reduce energy needed for heating or cooling, we will make a change in emissions.
This reduction can also be made through improving vehicle-fuel efficiency. Driving less than needed or buying a fuel-efficient car will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although it's a small change, many small changes will someday lead to a bigger change.
Recycling whenever possible greatly reduces the energy needed to create new products. Whether it is aluminum cans, magazines, cardboard, or glass, finding the nearest recycling center will aid in the fight against global warming.
Global Warming and The Road AheadAs global warming progresses, natural resources will be further depleted, and there will be risks of wildlife extinctions, melting of the polar ice caps, coral bleaching and disintegration, floods and droughts, disease, economic disaster, sea level rise, population risks, unsustainable land, and more. As we live in a world characterized by industrial progress and development aided by the help of our natural environment, we are also risking depletion of this natural environment and thus of our world as we know it. With a rational balance between protecting our environment and developing human technology, we will live in a world where we can simultaneously progress the capabilities of mankind with the beauty and necessity of our natural environment.