Ever since 1906, the planet has been growing warmer. The average temperature has increased by over 0.9 degrees Celsius, even more at Earth’s poles. The effects of global warming are appearing all around us right now. It is melting glaciers, disturbing natural precipitation patterns and taking away many animals’ homes.
A common misconception many seem to have is that global warming and climate change are synonyms, when in fact they are not. Scientists have used the term ‘climate change’ to refer to the complex shifts now affecting our planet’s weather and climate systems. Not only does this include rising temperatures but also extreme weather events, changing wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other impacts.
Scientists have noted these effects of climate change:
- Ice is melting worldwide, especially at Earth’s poles. For instance, in Montana’s Glacier Natural Park, the number of glaciers has decreased from 150 or more to less than 30.
- Sea levels are rising, thanks to the amount of melting ice. Global sea levels are rising 3.2 millimeters a year, and the rise is occurring at a faster rate in recent years.
- Rising temperatures are negatively impacting wildlife and their habitats. Vanishing ice has been the cause of many species going near extinction.
- As temperatures change, many species are on the move. Some butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have migrated farther north or to higher, cooler areas.
- Rain and snowfall has increased across the globe, on average. Yet some regions are experiencing more severe drought, increasing the risk of wildfires, lost crops, and drinking water shortages.
Photos showing global warming effects: