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What Are the Signs of Climate Change?
Jun 19 2021
While climate change is a natural process that has been occurring over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, the rapid acceleration of the phenomenon in the last two centuries is some cause for concern. According to a consensus of more than 95% of the scientific community, anthropogenic activity has been the chief driving factor behind the recent disruption to the world’s climate, which is why they are urging us to follow their lead to slow the progress of this troubling pattern.
But what exactly are these tell-tale signs of climate change that have gotten scientists so worried? How do they manifest themselves over time? And how do we know they aren’t just natural phenomena? Here’s a quick run through some of the major indicators of climate change and the implications they have for the planet and all life sustained upon it.
This is perhaps the most notorious sign of climate change, often referred to as “global warming”. The emission of so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane leads to a build-up of the gases in our atmosphere. Since these gases trap more heat than oxygen or other ambient elements, they lead to elevated temperatures across the globe. Emissions of greenhouse gases have seen a sharp upturn ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18 century.
Melting polar ice caps
The warmer weather isn’t just felt in places inhabited by humans, either. The Arctic in the north and the Antarctic in the south are also susceptible to rises in ambient temperatures, which in turn leads to more rapid thawing of the ice. Since methane is contained within these ice sheets, it is emitted in great quantities when they melt, thus creating a self-perpetuating and ever-deteriorating situation.
Rising sea levels
Once the ice has melted, it turns to water and feeds into the seas and oceans. With a greater volume of water than before, this means that sea levels around the world are rising steadily. According to the National Geographic, average sea levels have increased by around 23cm since 1880, with around 7.5cm of that hike occurring in the last 25 years. That spells grave danger for coastal communities and low-lying island nations.
Extreme weather events
Climate change isn’t just associated with global warming and its ramifications, however. It also manifests itself in a greater frequency and intensity of freak weather phenomena, with coal-fired power plants even being linked direct to extreme rainfall events. Storms, cyclones, tornados, earthquakes and hurricanes are other causes for concern that are occurring with more regularity and intensity.
Periods of drought
As well as unleashing torrential floods of rain, climate change cuts both ways as well, resulting in prolonged periods of drought. This can be catastrophic in developing countries where water scarcity is already a problem, while it also threatens to disrupt the agricultural industry and jeopardise cultivation of our crops. As such, it can impact upon the sufficiency of food and water supplies for the whole world.
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