The Effects of Climate Change: Then, Now, and Later

Jennifer Zuniga   Advertising Manager

Climate change is the way in which the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide increase due to production from fossil fuels. Throughout the past century, the evidence of climate change has been taking place and will continue to affect the earth dramatically. Understanding how it affects us is crucial because it will determine what the future will bring for the earth.

People make many assumptions about how climate change actually started, however, almost all evidence points to greenhouse gases as the primary source. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons, contribute to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. This occurs naturally and prevents some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space, making Earth livable for animals and organisms to survive. In more recent times, industrialization, clear-felling forests, and certain farming methods have contributed to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The increased levels of greenhouse gases have caused the Earth to increase in temperature.

Climate change is taking effect in all parts of the world from landmarks such as the mountains to watermarks such as the sea, which is happening at a rapid pace. NASA has written many articles about the areas on the earth that climate change has affected. One article, “Climate change: How do we know?”, allows the readers to see what parts of the world climate change is currently taking place in.

According to NASA, the global temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, caused by the increase of carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Additionally, the oceans have warmed up because they have absorbed much of the increased heat; the top 700 meters of ocean show warming of more than 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.

Another effect is that ice sheets are shrinking in mass, especially in Greenland and the Antarctic. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment shows that Greenland lost an average of 281 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 119 billion tons during the same time period. The rate of Antarctica’s ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade. Lastly, the sea level has been rising. Global sea levels rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and is accelerating slightly every year.

Predicting the future effects that it will have in the United States is important to understand how climate change will affect us in the near future. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. Additionally, frost-free season and growing season will lengthen in the western parts of the U.S., mainly in high elevation and coastal areas.

There will also be changes in precipitation patterns. Projections of future climates over the U.S. suggests that the recent trend towards increased heavy precipitation events will continue. This trend is projected to occur even in regions where total precipitation is expected to decrease, such as the Southwest.

Finally, there will be more droughts and heat waves. It is predicted that the summer temperature will increase. This is going to cause the soil moisture to reduce, which will affect heat waves. By the end of this century, what have been once-in-20-year extreme heat days (one-day events) are projected to occur every two or three years over most of the nation. Lastly, sea level will rise 1-4 feet by 2100. In the next decades, storm surges and high tides could combine with sea level rise and land subsidence to further increase flooding in many regions. Sea level will continue to rise after 2100 because the oceans take a very long time to respond to warmer conditions at the Earth’s surface.

Knowing the primary source of climate change, the effects that it has in today’s environment, and predicting the future effects that it will have in the United States is important to understand climate change and how it impacts us. It is up to this generation to figure out a way to prevent the world from further collapsing. There are a few things we can do, such as green your commute, use energy wisely, consume less, waste less, invest in renewables, and more.

Leave a Reply