Climate change is no more a thing of the future! It is happening right now and its impacts are being felt all over the world. The unabated emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere due to anthropogenic activities such as combustion of the fossil fuels for our energy needs has been heating up our planet and unless we transform the way we live our lives, the consequences of the climate change would be far-reaching. Here are four visible impacts of climate change:
Extreme Weather Events
Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, torrential rain and flooding, drought and the associated wildfires in the forests around the world. Whether it was ‘killer heatwaves’ of 2003 in Europe or the recent one in 2019 which lashed not only the European countries but exacerbated the rate of melting of snow and ice sheet in Greenland, highlights the severity of changing climate implications. Further, the ongoing fluctuation in the patterns of the precipitation has been pouring torrential rainfalls in some parts of the world while parching the rest and thus leading to prolonged periods of drought. The warming weather desiccates the vegetation, making it conducive to wildfires or bushfires. The recent events of bushfires in Australia speak volume of the intensity of climate change impacts.
Sea Level Rising and Coastal Flooding
The sea level around the world has been rising due to warming ocean water which is causing it to expand and the rapidly melting glaciers and ice sheets at the polar regions. This has made the coastal communities of the low-lying island nations such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Republic of Marshal islands vulnerable and unless we take radical measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, we might even lose these island nations forever.
Melting Glaciers and Ice Sheets
The catastrophic impacts of climate change could not have been more pronounced when the ice sheet of Greenland began melting in the summers of 2019. Within a space of just five days, the ice sheets lost about 55 billion tonnes of water. The melting of glaciers and ice sheet is not an unusual phenomenon but what is concerning is the alarming rate at which the melting has been going on. At this kind of rate, the entire Greenland sheet will melt within a thousand-year which could cause up to 23-feet of sea-level rise!
Climate change and global warming have been warming ocean water. This has resulted in the massive loss of marine life ranging from coral bleaching to the creation of dead zones in the oceans. As the water warms, the coral polyps expel out the colourful algae and as a result, they become ‘bleached’ or white. Further, the processes of ocean acidification and ocean deoxygenation have been killing marine life such as shelled creatures and fish. Climate change, broadly speaking, has been changing the ecosystems around the world by transforming the landscape — which means loss of habitat and food sources for many wildlife species. Whether it is threats to the polar bears, ringed seals, orang-utans, giant panda or monarch butterflies — climate change could be linked to the factors promoting threats to the wildlife.