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|EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING ON THE EARTH AND THE NEED TO RECYCLE||Published: 09/02/09|
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The effects of global warming on the earth are far reaching indeed. Global warming affects everything from the weather and oceans to different ecosystems and even our own health. Understanding these effects will motivate you to try even harder to do your part to protect our planet.
Effects on the Weather
Because of higher temperatures, the earth has been experiencing some very extreme weather conditions. Warmer temperatures cause ocean temperatures to rise in areas as well. One result of this rise in temperature is an increase in hurricanes.
Hurricanes have been increasing in severity since the 1970s. Category 4 and 5 hurricanes specifically have increased by more than 15 percent. Resulting loss of life and economic damages has been staggering. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a Category 3 but is listed as the third deadliest hurricane to hit the United States with at least 1500 lives lost. With $81,000,000,000 in damages, it ranks as the costliest hurricane since 1900.
Glaciers are also melting away at an alarming rate. The 19th and 20th Centuries have seen a decrease in the number of glaciers by a staggering 50 percent! Initially this rapid melting has the sad consequences of landslides and flooding. Far worse problems will be soon to follow.
As the earth's supply of ice disappears, there will be shortages of water world-wide. Many places depend on gradually melting ice to replenish the water supply of rivers and streams. All living things that depend on these water sources will be adversely affected since 75 percent of the fresh water on the earth is contained in these disappearing ice islands.
Oceans are also affected by global warming. Sea levels have risen by about six inches in the last hundred years or so. This is due to the warmer water temperatures melting away glaciers and ice sheets.
Rising temperatures affect the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and this increases the acidity of the ocean waters. Increased acidity has a detrimental effect on the living coral reef as well as other shelled creatures. Additionally, the life cycles of fish and other marine life are adversely affected as well since there are many species that depend on cold water to reproduce and grow.
All of these things affect the ecosystems that live on the earth. Many animals are being pushed toward extinction due to several factors:
º Reduced snow cover-many species depend on ice and snow to live. Take the Polar Bear and Emperor Penguins as an example. These creatures depend on sheets of ice for a place to give birth to their young and rest during their travels. It may seem odd to think of either of these animals drowning, but that is just what has been happening when they have nowhere to rest after a long swim.
º Rising sea levels-this affects the coastal regions and the life that exists there. As the coasts disappear, so do its inhabitants.
º Temperatures/weather conditions-many ecosystems have a very delicate balance. Even what may appear to be a slight change can have major consequences. A rise in temperature or rain fall changes will cause many species of plants and animals to disappear, possibly before we even know they exist; but animals and plants are not the only ones affected.
Effects on Humans
The effects of global warming on the earth also affect human lives. Not just deaths from hurricanes, heat related deaths are also on the rise. If that isn't enough, the World Heath Organization has stated that global warming could cause a dramatic increase in insect-borne diseases in places like Great Britain and Europe.
These examples show that global warming affects us all. There is no easy solution to this problem. However, if each individual chooses to make changes in their lives that will benefit the earth, those small changes will add up to a large impact. Little things like composting kitchen waste, recycling or driving a hybrid car really do make a difference.
Imagine a pebble being dropped into a pond. Watch the ripples get larger and larger reaching all the way to the other side. What kind of ripple do you want to make?
These are only a few basics that will show how changes in the earth's atmosphere are dramatically affecting life on this planet.
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