Saturday, November 11, 2006

Consequences of Global Warming

It doesn't matter whether we continue to bicker and debate about the causes and economic impacts of global warming or we actually start putting into practice solutions that will begin to dial down the amount of greenhouse gases we leak into the atmosphere -- the world is going to get warmer no matter what. The real question is how much warmer the globe will get, which will be influenced, in part, by the timing and veracity of the solutions put into practice. German's Der Spiegel has a portion of each week's content translated into English, and this week's cover story about global warming/climate change. Here's a tidbit about what will happen with a rise of each degree (in Celsius, of course):

Rise in temperature by:


The cumulative acidification of the oceans permanently damages maritime ecosystems, endangering fish and the fishing industry. Himalaya glaciers completely disappear endangering the water supply of a quarter of the Chinese population. Rising sea levels threaten small islands as well as urban centers such as Lisbon, New York or Tokyo.


Half of the arctic tundra vanishes. Half of the world's wildlife sanctuaries can no longer protect the wildlife within them. In Africa, crops yields drop by 15 to 35 percent. Up to 300 million people in coastal areas are affected by flooding.


Heavy droughts afflict southern Europe every 10 years. Up to 170 million people fall victim to floods and hurricanes annually. Between 150 and 550 million more people go hungry than do today. Crop yields in the higher latitudes, on the other hand, are more fruitful than ever.


Southern Africa and the Mediterranean regions possess 20 to 30 percent less water. Forty to 60 million more Africans than today contract malaria. Fifteen to 40 percent of all species are threatened with extinction, such as polar bears, caribou and many amphibians. The melting of the ice crust in Greenland is irreversibly set in motion.


Eighty percent of the world's coral reefs suffer regularly from bleaching. The disappearance of smaller glaciers in the Andes threatens the water supply of 50 million people. In the tropics, 300,000 more people than today die of dysentery, malaria or malnutrition. Crop yields in the higher latitudes, on the other hand, improve. The melting of the ice caps means deepwater resources in the artic are easier to access.


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