I'm sure our readers remember a time when climate change was primarily referred to as "global warming." Here in Colorado, it feels as though that simply can't be true with our colder-than-usual spring weather! Truth be told, though, that label is pretty accurate: The global temperature is rising, but the effects we're seeing are much more complex than that alone. So what else do we know about what climate change is doing to the planet?
Since the Industrial Revolution, the acidity level in our oceans has increased by 30%. Estimates predict that by the end of the century, the oceans will be upwards of 150% more acidic - putting them at a level they haven't seen for 20 million years. 20 million! Sea life has already begun to be affected, but if we keep going at the rate we are, coral reefs, shellfish, and other organisms will begin to see a heavy impact - if not total extinction.
Rising Sea Levels
While our oceans are becoming more acidic, the sea levels are also rising at an alarming rate. Over the course of the last one hundred years, we've seen the average sea level rise 4 to 8 inches with an increase of 0.13 inches per year. The rise destroys habitats for animal life, but it will absolutely impact our lives, as well. Storms, floods, erosion, and more are now very real threats to our communities. At present, more than half of the world's population lives within 40 miles of a coastline which makes half of the world's population susceptible to the consequences of higher water levels... And makes the rest of us susceptible to the aftermath of having to move half of the world's population further inland.
With all this talk of rising oceans, it's hard to imagine a world without water. When we think of drought, we may think of deserts and bereft third-world countries. However, this isn't an issue determined by civilization - this is nature, and it's knocking on our front door. More than 98% of California is now experiencing a drought. In many places, taps have officially gone dry, and the citizens are relying on bottled water not only to drink, but to bathe and flush their toilets, as well. Water scarcity makes for veritable breeding grounds for bacteria, whether in contaminated water or with infections spread because of a lack of hygiene.
The prognosis for Earth does seem grim from this standpoint, and unfortunately "global warming" feels like a misnomer with people using snowballs and uncharacteristically cold weather as "evidence" against it. Yet between 1979 and 2003, more than 8,000 people died from excessive heat exposure: More than hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, floods, and earthquakes combined. The good news is, solutions are always being proposed, but it's up to us - the global community - to actively recognize this crisis and try something new and truly take responsibility for fixing our home.
Because what we're doing now isn't working.
Do you have any facts or figures that have left you dumbfounded? Are you taking steps to reduce your impact? Let us know in the comments!