Consequences of global warming

Desertification and increasingly long periods of drought are one of the direct consequences of climate change. (iStockphoto)

How climate change affects people and the natural environment

Untimely migrations of birds, late crop harvests, allergies out of season, coasts that are losing ground … The effects of climate change go far beyond the rise in temperature and pose a danger to the planet and its inhabitants.

Increase in temperatures

According to NASA, 2016 was the hottest year in history, but thermometers have continued to reach record temperatures every year. The problem is not that it is very hot, but that the temperatures of the seasons change and this affects the migration cycles of birds and harvests, increases the chances of fire, lengthens periods of dryness…

Deforestation

The Amazon is the largest forest on the planet and, due to the cutting down of trees, it has already lost a fifth of its surface area. (luoman / Getty)

In the last 8,000 years the Earth has lost almost half of its forests: most of them, during the last 100 years! The FAO (United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture) calculates that 13 million hectares (130,000 km2) of forests are lost every year around the world.

Rising sea levels

Many islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean are in danger of disappearing if temperatures continue to rise. (USFWS)

During the last 100 years, the levels of the seas and the oceans have risen 20 centimeters, but could rise up to one meter by the year 2100! Some countries formed by islands in the middle of the ocean, such as the Marshall Islands or Tuvalu, could flood and disappear completely. In addition, it is estimated that half of the world’s population lives in coastal areas: if sea levels rise, these people would be forced to leave their homes and migrate to other areas.

Climate refugees

Climate change multiplies risks and threats to the most vulnerable people, forcing them to leave their homes. (Justin Lynch / AP)

Global warming has modified climate patterns, increasing the frequency and duration of atmospheric phenomena such as typhoons, hurricanes, torrential rains, periods of drought … It doesn’t provoke them directly, but it does influence their characteristics and can cause them to be more serious and frequent.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in the last 10 years, nearly 200 million people living in developing countries have been displaced by natural disasters. The effects of climate change, in the short and long term, will force millions of people to emigrate.

Decreasing biodiversity

The disappearance of natural habitats also causes the species that live there to disappear. (agustavop / Getty)

Deforestation, rising temperatures, rising sea levels … All these phenomena affect the natural habitats of millions of species, which could disappear. For example, if the polar ice melts, it will mix with the salt water of the seas and oceans. This difference in the salinity and acidity of the water can affect algae and other marine plant species … and, as a result, the animals that feed on these plants!

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