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Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Global Geography

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Noticeable signs of climate change are everywhere, the biggest being global warming. Scientists deem the effects of climactic change and rising temperatures globally a potential threat. Left unchecked, it will continue to rise, eventually changing the entire ecosystem. Even in this current situation, the consequences of increasing Earth temperatures are gradually causing rising sea levels in some parts and contrasting droughts in other regions. Wildfires threatening the survival of numerous flora and fauna (along with some endangered species) are a common result of such draught-stricken regions. However, these severe weather events are predicted to get worse in the future.

Field researchers aiming to understand what caused climate change have found overwhelming evidence about the excessive use of fossil fuels. Such fuels release greenhouse gases (comprising carbon dioxide) and interfere with the earth’s stratosphere (the planet’s blanket in repelling the sun’s heat waves). Rather than repelling heat waves from the planet, the spreading of greenhouse gases is causing the atmospheric air composition to change and trap the heat. The worst part is that we humans are the pivotal cause behind it. The topic is a recurring theme in academic assignment write-ups. 

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Let’s explore some significant impacts of climate change on global geography over the past decade.

  • In 2007 (summer), the Arctic Ice Cap shrank and was found to be the smallest ever seen in some time. Scientists who discovered this phenomenon hold climate change to be the root cause. As ominous as things appeared, they estimated this would likely result in ice-free summers by 2050 (if left uncontrolled). 
  • Australia has been facing severe drought issues for the last decade. Commonly dubbed “Dry Day”, reports of uncongenial draughts affecting farming lands and rivers have been reported. Case in point: the River Murray has lost so much water that it fails to flow into the connecting ocean. 
  • Noticeable climactic variations are also shortening winters in several parts of the earth. Moreover, they are hampering the vegetation cycle in the Rocky Mountains, thus resulting in a sharp decline in wildflowers and an increase in sagebrush.
  • Similar occurrences are seen in the Upper Colorado Basin, which has witnessed a sharp drop in water levels due to the extensive demands of human civilization and long drought periods. The decline in water levels is gradually changing the surrounding landscape and greenery.
  • Even Orlando, Florida, is a clear example of how climate change due to rising human needs and demands has altered the regional landscape. Initially, the region was a swamp area. But the rise in human population has morphed the region into a popular US destination filled with amusement parks, with over 60 million travellers flocking to the destination. All this has led to climatic changes, gas emissions, and resulting consequences for the planet.
  • Shanghai, China, mirrors the occurrences in Orlando, Florida. The increasing human population is replacing greenery with skyscrapers, factories, pollution, and more release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus causing unwanted climate alteration.

While greenhouse gases are crucial for our atmospheric air composition, unceasing emissions from fossil fuels like oil and coal are gradually causing an unwanted spike in temperature, resulting in climate change.

For instance, the current level of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere was estimated to be around 400 parts per million – something that hasn’t happened for over 400,000 years. 

Initially, it never exceeded 300 ppm, even with the advent of human civilization 100,000 years ago. But in recent times, the exponential rise in CO2 exposure in the atmosphere has become an alarming cause of concern for scientists worldwide.

Researchers further indicate that the earth’s surface temperature has increased by 1.5 Fahrenheit. Without proper preventative actions, it could reach up to 11.6 Fahrenheit in the next millennium. To the naked eye, such changes may not seem too much. But it can still have negative effects on the whole planet. Increasing surface temperatures melt glaciers, further raising sea levels. Violent ocean storms also occur more frequently due to rising ocean surface temperatures. In dried lands, the temperature rise is causing more heat waves to reach civilization, harming habitats, hampering daily activities, and even causing human deaths. 

More evidence seen globally

  • Shrinking of Island Nations. In 2009, an evacuation plan was initiated on Carteret Island off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
  • Vanishing snowy mountain tops. Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa’s tallest mountain) has witnessed over 90% of the snow melt without any signs.
  • Receding glaciers. Reports also show Montana’s Glacier National Park is fully receding due to severe climatic changes in recent times. 

Key takeaways

Temperatures will continue to rise unless preventative measures are taken to reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

Some of them include:

  • Planting trees (as they absorb carbon dioxide).
  • Eating less meat is important, as cows are potent producers of methane.
  • Limit burning fossil fuels and use alternate options like solar and wind energy.
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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