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Climate & Energy

Economic action to stop global warming

Impact of Climate Change

The Earth has been warming and cooling for millions of years, long before humans entered the picture. So when scientists first began reporting on recent temperature elevations, few acknowledged that humans had anything to do with it.

But the scientific world has taken a second look and concluded that human activity, primarily fossil fuel combustion from cars, coal-fired power plants, and oil and natural gas heating sources, is the leading cause of climate change.

Here's the impact our activity is having on the planet:

Scientists have already documented:

  • 2010 is Globally the Hottest Year on Record (NOA 2010)
  • Warming of the Climate System is Unequivocal (IPCC 2007)
  • Arctic Warming at Twice Global Rates (ACIA 2004)
  • Alpine Warming Limits European Water Resources (EEA 2009)
  • Arctic to Lose All Summer Ice by 2100 (NASA/Goddard 2005)
  • Arctic Melt May Dry Out U.S. West Coast by 2050 (New Scientist 2005)
  • By 2050 Warming to Doom Millions of Species (Nature 2004)

World's Poor Most Affected by Climate Change:

Extreme weather conditions are causing drought throughout Africa right now. And scientsts predict that by the end of the century lakes and streams on one-fourth of the African continent will be dried up because of severe temperatures. This lack of water will lead to widespread food insecurity. [source: Science, Mar 3, 2006]

For the year 2006, the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) reports:

  • In Kenya, between 3.5 and 4 million people are in need of food aid. In one of the most visible signs of a searing drought, nomadic Maasai herdsmen are driving starving cattle into the capital, Nairobi, to feed on well-watered lawns.
  • In Lesotho, 550,000 people face significant food shortages. Lesotho faces long-term soil erosion, erratic weather, and the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
  • In Zambia, WFP says it is feeding 1.1 million people but 1.4 million people need food aid. After a good 2004 harvest, a prolonged drought severely reduced 2006's maize crop.
  • In Malawi, some 5 million people, almost half the population, need food aid. Malawi has been hard hit by AIDS, is densely populated by regional standards and suffers from widespread soil erosion.

  • In Zimbabwe, 4.3 million people, one-third of the population, will need food relief. In Swaziland, an estimated 230,000 people, nearly one-fourth of the country's population, face severe food shortages.

The Future is More Alarming:

Global warming will have a severe impact on how the world is fed and which places we call home.

  • When sea levels rise three ft, it will flood 15% of the agriculture land in Egypt, and 16% of the rice production in Bangladesh. 72 million people in China will be impacted by increases in sea levels that could wipe out hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural lands. [source: IPCC]
  • In the US, seawater along Florida’s coast could advance inland as much as 400 ft, taking over hotels, eroding beaches, seeping into fresh water sources, harming farmland, and gravely threatening the Everglades. [source: NRDC]

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, across the globe, we can expect to see:

  • Sea levels rise as much as three ft by 2100, flooding low-lying lands.
  • Precipitation patterns change, especially in already water-scarce regions, deeply impacting agriculture and access to food.
  • The range and abundance of plants and animals will change, with some unable to adapt or migrate to new locations.
  • Forests, ecosystems, and agriculture will experience severe stress, effecting the natural resources that can be harvested.
  • Serious human health impacts, such as increasing heat stress, respiratory illnesses, and the spread of infectious diseases. [source: UCS]

 

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