Consequences of Global Warming

by Landon Silla
August 22, 2007
Among the academics and scientists of the world, there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the specifics of predicting global warming. However, there is one thing that they all agree on; global warming is happening and sea levels will rise if we continue on our current course. Efforts need to be made to ensure this problem is curtailed otherwise we collectively face one of the largest epidemics in the history of the human race.

How Does It Work?
You probably already know at least the basics behind this occurrence as this has been a very hot political, social and environment issue for some time. But how does global warming cause rising sea levels. Well the answer is really quite simple. The increased temperatures cause ice reserves around the world to melt and flow into the ocean as well as weaken coastal ice shelves causing them to fragment and fall into the water. Interestingly enough, melting an already floating iceberg has no impact on the sea level. The problem is further complicated by the fact that melting of ice is not just a result of global warming, but a cause as well. The disappearing of glaciers often reveals darkly colored earth or the blue ocean. This changing of surface color from white (snow or ice) to darker colors attracts sunlight and positively reinforces rising temperatures. Water expands as temperature rises so increasing ocean temperatures will cause the volume of the ocean to increase raising the sea level.

What Will Happen?
The vast majority of the world’s ice resides on Greenland and Antarctica. And it has been estimated that the complete melting of the Greenland and Antarctica ice would cause the sea level to rise seven and seventy-three meters respectively. The world with an eighty meter sea level rise would look vastly different. The big question to ask now is at what rate is the sea level going to rise? And the quick answer to that question is a whopping “It depends”. It depends on how the industrialized countries of the world work to solve the problem by cutting emissions and using green technologies. Even with constant predictions about the future habits of society, scientists differ on the rate of sea level rise. Studies show that the oceans have risen 10-20 centimeters in the past century. Future estimates peg the sea level rise over the next century from half of a meter upwards of seven meters. In any event, cities from Los Angeles to Calcutta will have a significant problem on their hands.

Other Consequences of Global Warming
While sea level rise is probably the most talked about outcome of global warming, there are many other results of similar severity. Mountain glaciers feed rivers and supply fresh water to villages downstream. Without these glaciers, villagers will have no water supply. Changes in climate will cause animals to alter their desired habitat. Some estimates predict the extinction of millions of species. Warmer waters mean move violent storms and hurricanes. Heat waves will help spread disease. And the list of possible consequences goes on.

Global warming is real and happening today. While we may not live long enough to see catastrophic disasters occur, we will definitely see changes in our environment. And we bare the responsibility of correcting this problem while there is still time. We only have one planet and it is up to us to take care of it. Please take a look at our Hazard Map to see what the world would look like at various inudation levels.

Landon Silla
Manager of Information and Technology
CyArk Hazard Map showing 25 meter inundation level