Implications of climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is made up of over 1,300 scientists. They believe that a global temperature increase of 2°C is the critical level before irreversible damage and harm comes to many populations.

It is evident the effects of global climate change are very serious and it has already had noticeable effects on the environment.

Effects of climate change

Arctic sea ice melts

  • Increased temperatures are causing ice caps to melt. As a result, habitats for animals including polar bears and emperor penguins are shrinking. This threatens the survival of these species.
  • As ice caps and glaciers melt, sea levels rise. They have risen 24cm since 1880. Further increases will make many coastal areas uninhabitable, including the Shetland Islands in Scotland, and Japan
  • Global warming also affects weather patterns, leading to more intense heatwaves, and droughts, which causes crop failure
  • Rising sea temperatures causes water to expand which increases flooding causing the extinction of species
  • More extreme weather, such as hurricanes impacts on human life
  • Tourism problems are increasing, as there is less snow in some mountain resorts but more heat in other areas, eg the Mediterranean
  • As temperatures rise, tropical diseases like malaria are spreading to previously unaffected areas.

In the UK, climatologists understand our climate is changing with the highest temperature and rainfall levels recorded in recent years. These extremes have increased the risk of more floods, water shortages and extreme weather conditions.