The world is facing its biggest environmental challenge: climate change. Whether we care about it or not, climate change will affect every living being on the planet, including humans, whose activities are the main drivers of increasing global temperature. We can't run away from the effects of an abnormally hot planet, some of which are already manifesting now.
Unless we can achieve our goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy, some of the changes due to climate change below will either persist or be felt in the near future.
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Droughts and heatwaves
Rising temperatures are causing some regions across the globe to experience extreme droughts and heatwaves. These effects will become more intense and cold waves everywhere will be reduced due to climate change, according to NASA. The space agency added that summer temperatures are also expected to continue rising and by the end of this century, extremely hot days are expected to occur every two or three years instead of once in 20 years.
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Changes in the ocean
Rising water temperatures and higher-than-normal carbon dioxide concentration are turning the world's oceans more acidic. With higher acidity in the waters, the oceans reached warming of 1°C, "with critical thresholds expected to be reached at 1.5°C and above," the WWF said. At 1.5°C, coral reefs are expected to decline by 70 to 90 percent while at 2°C, all coral reefs will be lost.
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More climate-related migrations
Climate change is pushing people to leave their homes due to climate-related disasters, such as drought, flooding, and more frequent hurricanes. In fact, about 1.5 million people from Syria's rural areas were forced to move to the cities in 2007 due to water scarcity, crop failures, and death of livestock because of increased drought, Climate Reality Project reported.
Another example is the 15 million people in the Philippines who were displaced due to typhoons and storms since 2013.
The World Bank Group estimated that over 140 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America will leave their homes before 2050 because of the impacts of climate change.
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Rising sea levels
Since 1880, the global sea level has risen by about eight inches and it's projected to rise by another one to four feet by 2100. Melting land ice and the expansion of seawater due to warming are the causes of the rising sea levels, which would be accompanied by storm surges, high tides, and land subsidence that will intensify flooding in many regions.
According to NASA, the continued rise in sea levels is due to the longer time it takes for the oceans to respond to warmer conditions at the Earth's surface.
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Retreating forests and extinction
The effect of climate change varies in different kinds of forests. For sub-Arctic boreal forests, tree lines will likely retreat north as temperatures rise while tropical forests like the Amazon—home to abundant biodiversity—can lead to high levels of extinction even at modest climate change levels.
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Disease-carrying insects are living longer due to extended periods of warm weather. With climate change, these insects thrive as conditions for waterborne pathogens flourish in warmer waters. This can be seen in the increase in the number of cases of illnesses transmitted by ticks between 2004 and 2016 in the US, as per a CDC report via the Climate Reality Project.
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Increased temperatures are causing ice to melt in the polar regions. In the Arctic, it's projected that there will be almost no summer sea ice cover left in the next few decades, due to rising air temperature, according to the WWF.
It added that Antarctica is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which can eliminate the region's ice sheet's ability to reflect back the Sun's energy and regulate global temperatures. Small-scale melting in the Antarctic region will likely lead to significant effects on global sea-level rise