Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weird Weather and Global Warming …..AKA Climate Change...Saturday, October 24. 2009

I am sure we all have heard the term “Global Warming” hundreds of times by now. Living in Canada when someone says the term global warming during a deep freeze in February, I tend to frown, but actually global warming is a serious matter. However, the term “climate change” is better suited for the weather patterns and eco-systems changes that seem to be occurring with more frequency these days. If global warming meant warmer Canadian winters and no other ramifications, I would be saying, “Bring it on”. However, global warming, which is now often refered to as climate change, means much more.

The Arctic is the measuring stick for climate change. The Arctic is an extremely sensitive region, and it's being greatly affected by the changing climate. Most scientists consider what's happening now in the Arctic as a hint of things to come. Average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere on the planet. Arctic ice is getting thinner, melting and rupturing. Extreme changes are occurring in the Artic region, affecting the ice both in the open ocean and the ice, which is attached to the coast. With this occurring the ocean levels will rise and currents will become affected. Scientists state that much more rain is anticipated in many areas in coming decades as the ice caps melt. Rising sea levels could mean severe flooding in low-lying coastal areas in the future. Increasing sea temperatures in the Atlantic and Pacific have increased the environmental stress on the coastlines of Canada and the United States as well as other areas. There are even a few scientists that believe that changes in weather and climate can rip the earth’s crust apart, resulting in volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides. Over the past few years there seems to be more frequent earthquakes, however it is not yet certain if climate change is to blame.

An example recently of strange weather patterns saw the second weekend of October 2009 having 40 record lows in the US Midwest, including Denver, Colorado, which saw snow and a record low of 17 Fahrenheit. In the Canadian prairies, snow and record cold arrived for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, just a few weeks after record high temperatures. In previous months there have been wildfires in California caused by dry weather. In other parts of the US there have been floods and excessive rain. These are a few examples in North America. Other parts of the world have been hit with violent weather with devastating consequences. One example was a deadly typhoon that slammed into China's coastal provinces and Taiwan in August 2009 that killed hundreds and displaced more than a million people at that time. In third world countries these types of storms are especially tragic because poorer countries do not have the means to recover as quickly from devastating storms.

It is not only the weather we need to be concerned about in regards to climate change. The change in our climate will affect plant and animal life. Our eco-system is interconnected in a way that when one species of plant or animal life is affected, it filters down to other ones. Warmer temperatures in one part of the world can bring different species to that section. In addition to that, it can also wipe out certain species in an area that is affected by changing weather patterns. Insects may travel further north and bring certain diseases with them to previously immune areas. The polar bear is one of the most used symbols of climate change and the effect it has on animals, however, climate change can potentially affect thousands of animal species. There is already undeniable evidence that animals, birds and plants are being affected by climate change in their dispersion and behavior. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced, climate change could lead to a quarter of land animals, birdlife and plants to become extinct. Climate change is certainly not the only danger to animals as humans have already destroyed many of the natural migrations of animals by increased urbanization and poaching. When animal and plant species are wiped out of their habitant, it filters down the food chain of other species including humans. We all depend on animals for our survival in one way or the other. With the earth’s population fast approaching seven billion, a shortage in food along with fresh drinking water, which is also a effect from climate change, will have devastating effects around the globe.

There is a lot of debate in the past few years about global warming. Some people think it is overblown and that it is not that serious. That leads people to ignore many environmental issues and continue with their wasteful ways. The fact is that global warming is more than having a warmer climate everywhere. I will say it again, being a Canadian with Canada having one of the harshest winters on the planet, I am all for a warmer climate here. (I don’t like the cold and have often wished in the winter months that I were at a beach in Florida.) But it is much more serious than that. There are more frequent weather extremes, which sometimes can result in colder temperatures. There are animal and plant species that are becoming extinct. There are more frequent storms and floods in some areas and droughts in others. I am not a scientist myself or am I an expert on climate change. I don’t know the extent of climate change but I do believe it is real and it is a serious issue that everyone needs to not only be aware of, but also take action on. While people debate on the extent and causes of global warming and climate change the planet is suffering damage that every day becomes more irreversible. I believe the proper term for global warming is climate change, which gives the true meaning to what is happening around the globe.

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