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January 2010

The devastating effects of climate change

by Staff, on animals, carbon dioxide, climate change, devastating effects, diseases, draught, global warming, greenhouse, land, reefs, temperature, water

People need to be sensitized on the devastating effects of climate change on their health and on the environment before they can be told what to they can do to stop it. Climate change has been brought about by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. This has been over the past few decades – it is scary to imagine what might happen in a few hundred years should what is happening continue.

Climate change has led to the global increase in temperatures. This is because greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, among others, have created a greenhouse effect on the atmosphere, trapping the heat within the planet. This has led to an increase in the frequency and the intensity of extreme weather. The draughts are more severe and the ice caps are melting. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the severe draughts have led to scarcity of drinking water for animals and man alike and a decrease in food production. This effect is felt more in Africa and other poor countries that already had food security issues and that do not have sophisticated water harvesting and irrigation systems. Ironically, it is these countries that contribute least to global warming – the richer countries can easily adapt to the consequences of global warming.

The increase in temperatures has led to rising sea levels. This is as a direct result of the melting of ice in the South Pole, but more so, on the North Pole. This has led to reduction of land mass in some islands and main lands and some islands have been completely submerged. It has also led to an increase in waterborne diseases.

According to Climate and Global Change, the rise in the sea-surface temperatures has led to the destruction of marine life. In the last few decades, a quarter of the world’s coral reefs have disappeared. This has led to the death of many coral animals which rely entirely on coral reefs. The death of coral reefs is also caused by carbon dioxide dissolving into the seas which makes the waters more acidic.

Higher temperatures means there is higher evaporation, meaning there is higher amounts of rainfall in some parts. This is usually preceded by draught, meaning the land is bare when the rainfall comes. This cause flooding and food insecurity in some areas since whatever is planted is destroyed. It has also led to increased cases of waterborne diseases.

Higher temperatures have to the change in ecosystems. Species have to move due to temperature changes while others die. Some of these species are endangered such as coral reefs and polar animals. Global warming is causing changes in the timing of spring events, leading to less flora and fauna on the planet.

Climate change has led to an increase in diseases such as West Nile disease, river blindness, malaria, and dengue fever. There are also more deaths from heat waves. There is an increase in allergy attacks since pollen seasons are longer. Finally, animals that are migrating due to destruction of their habitats are bringing animal and human diseases. You can use the map to see climate change impacts in your region. Staff