Effects of climate change

Scientists, politicians and industrialists continue to debate the causes of global warming with some arguing it is a natural process that's been going on for centuries.

In February 2007, the United Nations released a scientific report which concluded that global warming is happening and will continue to happen for centuries. In 2013 the UN called for a global response to combat climate change. The report stated with 90 per cent certainty that the activity of humans has been the primary cause of increasing temperatures over the past few decades.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also stated the evidence suggests that human activity does affect global warming - specifically through the release of greenhouses gases and the use of aerosols.

There is controversy over how fast the earth is warming up. Some scientists estimate that atmospheric temperatures could rise by 1.4° - 5.8°C in the next 100 years. Others believe that they will rise more slowly. Globally, scientists believe temperatures have already risen by 0.8°C , even more in sensitive polar regions.

Whatever the causes and timescale, the effects of global warming are very serious.

The planet is warming, from North Pole to South Pole, and everywhere in between.

The heat is not only melting glaciers and sea ice, it’s also shifting precipitation patterns and setting animals on the move.

There are many documented effects of climate change, at local and global levels. These can be broadly grouped into environmental, economic and social effects.