Global warming and the consequences brought about by it are evident at present. Climate change, plant and animal extinction, crop failures, and natural disasters have caused a massive catastrophe on Earth.

Scientists are confident that global average temperature will continue to rise extensively for years, mainly as a result of greenhouse gases production. More than 1,300 scientists estimate an average global temperature rise of about 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

About 1700 scientists around the globe delivered an alarming “warning to humanity” in the year 1992. The report suggested that humans were on a “collision course” with the natural world.

The estimations of scientists and researchers in the past have been manifested and will continue to go on at an accelerated speed should we keep considering global warming a myth. Here you will find the ten popular predictions made by environmental experts regarding the consequence of global warming.

1. Changing Precipitation Patterns

Changing Precipitation Patterns
Photo by: Max

Since the 1950s, extreme precipitation has resulted in heavy and elongated monsoons in many parts of the world. Scientists speculate that this pattern will continue increasing with the temperature rise.

As the climate gets warmer, it will increase the evaporation rates of water, causing a speedy water cycle. This rapid rhythm, in turn, will result in higher precipitation. We can expect the global average precipitation to go up by one to three percent for each degree rise in global temperature.

Technically, we are looking forward to a rainier monsoon and snowier winters. These changes will not be distributed equally across the globe. As a result, some places will be flooded beyond imagination, while others will go into severe water scarcity. It will also bring about a series of intense storms.

The implications of changing precipitation have destructive impacts on both human health ecosystems. For instance, Nashville received almost 20 inches of rainfall in just three days. And the state sustained a loss of over one billion dollars.

2. Ice-free Arctic: Melting of snow and ice at an extensive rate

One of the most accurate predictions for the future is the heavy melting of snow-capped mountains and arctic snow. Today, the volume of melting ice glaciers and other ice structures is much higher than winter precipitation.

The Arctic is witnessing the temperature rise twice as rapidly as the rest of the globe. As the Global Ice Viewer predicted, we can expect to experience the ice-free Arctic Ocean in the summer before mid-century. According to a 2016 research published in Current Climate Change Reports, Europe, North America, and Asia have witnessed less snow cover between 1960 and 2015.

The melting of permafrost will prove to be a more significant threat. It causes the release of an extensive amount of methane which is more hazardous than carbon dioxide. Permafrost holds around 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, twice as much carbon dioxide currently trapped on Earth’s surface.

As the permafrost melts, it is projected that the global temperature will go up by approximately 0.6 degrees. According to a prevalent report by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, Northern Hemispheres have lost about 10% permafrost today than what was there in the 1900s.

3. Spread of pathogens

Permafrost holds numerous bacteria and viruses frozen in time. In 2016, an infected reindeer from decades ago thawed after an intense heatwave. This calefaction led to an outbreak of anthrax in Siberia, and numerous people were hospitalized.

Anthrax was a long-gone disease, probably thought to be extinct more than 75 years ago. And what led to the recurrence? Well, global warming!

We never know what sort of pathogens are hidden in the permafrost, and hopefully, we won’t have to encounter them. But with the current rise in global temperature, this revelation of epidemics seems unavoidable.

4. Rising Sea Level: Sea levels will increase as much as 8 feet by 2100

Sea levels have gone up by a striking 8 inches since 1880. At this rate, ocean waters will continue to rise for centuries, with rates much higher than the current expansion standards. According to the IPCC Report- 2013, human activities are blamed for rising sea levels and environmental changes since the 1950s.

There are two ways in which global warming will impact the rise of sea levels. First, water expands on heating, and its volume increases. Second, the melting of snow mountains and glaciers will add to the water in oceans, significantly raising the sea levels.

Since 2016, at least eight islands have been engulfed by the Pacific Ocean, and the sad part is that the trend is very likely to increase. Just as in Kiribati, entire nations could end up deep into ocean beds.

5. Risks to Life in Water: Widespread Ocean Acidification

Oceans are estimated to act as carbon dioxide absorbers as the levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere. Hence, increasing the acidity of seawater extensively. This augmentation might sound like a good thing, but it has severe implications for marine life.

Carbonic acid is formed when CO2 is dissolved in water. This reaction is the same process that happens in soda cans. When you open a can of Dr. Pepper, the pH of two is quite acidic.

According to the EPA, seawater acidification has increased by about 25% since the industrial revolution in the 1700s. Henceforth, the ocean waters will dissolve the calcium carbonate shells of sea creatures such as oysters, corals, and many more.

Ocean acidification
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations and ocean pH values. Atmospheric CO2, shown in red, is measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Seawater pCO2 (green) and pH values (blue) are from the ocean to the north of Hawaii (Station Aloha). As CO2 accumulates in the ocean, the water becomes more acidic (the pH declines). (Source)

Thousands of marine species that depend upon the coral reef ecosystem are at risk of extinction. And, let us not forget the estimated 1 billion people in the world who rely on reefs for income. Few marine biologists believe that with these increasing levels of ocean acidification, most of the coral reefs will dissolve by the end of the century.

6. Extreme Weather Shifts: Frost-free and growing seasons will lengthen

Extreme weather
Photo by: Ian Schneider

While we have been experiencing some of the hottest weather in the Southern part of the world, the Northerners continue to experience extraordinarily harsh and long winters. Climate change is the current reality that has already presented itself with large future projections.

Extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, drought, heatwaves, and rainstorms will increase frequency and intensity. The polar jet stream can cause tropical and northern air movement, causing sudden cold snaps in different locations.

Lightening frequencies have increased tremendously. If global warming trends continue, it has been predicted that lightning strikes will go up by 50% within the United States by 2100.

7. Impacts on Ocean Currents: Hurricanes that are stronger and more intense

 ocean currents
Photo by: Zoltan Tasi

The pattern of ocean currents is projected to stop within the next few decades. But what does that imply?

The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and has been absorbing twice the sun’s heat than the land surface. Should global warming impact the ocean’s current, we cannot imagine the intensity of the disaster.

Thermohaline circulation is the large-scale ocean currents caused by the difference in temperature and salinity disrupted by global warming. The salinity is changed by alteration in precipitation and melting of ice.

The ocean currents carry warmth from tropical climates to colder ones. Should the ocean currents stop any time soon, the average temperature of Europe would go down by 5 to 10 degrees Celsius. And not to forget about the destruction that the hurricanes will bring about in these regions.

Henceforth, we might as well be prepared for ocean heatwaves and extreme droughts in coastal areas.

8. Increase in the frequency of Natural disasters

Increase in the frequency of Natural disasters
Photo by: Tanya Grypachevskaya

Global warming has amplified the risks and occurrence of natural disasters (tsunami, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and avalanches). The rising air and water temperatures have led to extensive wind and storms, prolonged droughts, unexpected wildfires, and excessive flooding in many regions.

The rising temperatures are fueling hurricanes, typhoons, and extreme rains. Natural disasters have increased three times in the last thirty years, forcing more than 20 million people to flee their homes each year.

Volcanologists worry about the steadiness of more than 10% of active volcanoes currently covered in ice. Soon, when the ice melts away, we can look forward to a series of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, even in the most unexpected locations.

Similarly, heavy floods and landslides will serve as fertile ground for a few more devastating earthquakes in the Himalayan regions. Additionally, melting glaciers are close to setting off successions of avalanches.

9. Risk to Life on Land

Photo by: Gwen Weustink

While humans have learned to adapt, changes in temperatures and climate alter plants and wildlife habitats. This sudden change in living conditions can lead to a mass extinction of various species of life on land.

According to the EPA, migratory insects and birds reach their summer grounds weeks earlier than they did in the 20th century. Numerous birds and animals are already migrating towards the north or higher altitudes due to intolerable heat.

Due to such migrations, many species go extinct due to food scarcity and difficulties acclimation to new surroundings. If global warming goes up by 2 degrees Celsius, 8% of vertebras, 16% of plants, and 18% of insects are estimated to lose more than half of their geographical range.

As reported in the Nature Climate Change journal, if the same global warming trend continues, it is estimated that the Earth will lose about one-third of animals and one-half of plants by 2080.

10. Social Inequality Increases: Increase in the gap between rich and poor

The effects of global warming on the natural world can and will be theatrical. However, the change in human society and development is predicted to be even more tragic.

Although the growing seasons in some regions will expand, the impacts of drought, extreme weather, water shortage, and crop failures will rule out any of its advantages. Hunger and famine are projected to create a disaster in the international food market sparking a worldwide riot.

Between 1980 and 2011, floods affected more than 5.5 million people and caused over €90 billion of economic loss. Poverty and hunger are yet another peril brought about by global warming.

Although global warming implies the same impact for all, the severity of this implication and the burdens says a different story. Residents of developing and under-developed countries are four times more likely to be uprooted from their residence than the people in first-world nations.

To conclude

None of these predictions are likely to be fulfilled within the next few years. However, the fact that we cannot retreat from these consequences once the course is set in motion is chilling enough.

Humans have been spotting horrifying aftermaths of global warming for the last few years. However, we are still lagging in understanding the full extent of these present destructions. Every extra bit of rising global average temperature increases the long-lasting and irreversible risk associated with our ecosystem.  

Global warming is already disrupting many lives, and its future consequences are not so far from today. Henceforth, it is high time to act upon our mistakes and save the Earth and ourselves.

It is now or never!

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!