Effects of Climate Change
Climate change is real. Its effects include:
- Rising temperatures
- Futures studies show that global temperatures may rise by the end of the 21st century to between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius above 1990 levels, if concrete steps are not taken to tackle increased levels of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
- Extreme weather conditions
- Climate change can increase the frequency of heatwaves, floods and droughts around the world. In various reports, Nature, the international weekly journal of science, notes that recent summers in Europe have become increasingly hotter. It attributes the changes in weather conditions to high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It forecasts that Europe (including the UK) may experience even hotter summers in the future.
- Altered habitats
- Climate change also affects animals and plants as changes occur in rainfall and temperature. Forecasts show that some of 30% of land-based bird species could become extinct if temperatures continue to rise rapidly. Climate change, if not checked, will also have a negative impact on plants, insect species and on parts of the world's rainforests.
- Water and food scarcity
- Climate change is also likely to affect global water availability in the future. Higher temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns will affect global water supplies. This will have a knock-on effect on global food supplies as there may be less water available for agricultural purposes. This scenario is already being played out in water-stressed parts of Africa, Asia and Australasia.
- Health issues
- Climate change also has impacts on our health. For example, increased flooding events may cause water borne infectious diseases while a rise in heatwaves can cause deaths among the old and very young. The heatwave in 2003 is estimated to have caused over 2,000 extra deaths in England and Wales and 35,000 deaths in other parts of Europe like Italy, Spain and France.