Global warming is associated with widespread and dangerous disruption of nature, adversely affecting the lives of millions of people worldwide. Many studies prove that global warming is a mounting and grave threat to human and plant well-being. The increased temperatures, floods, and droughts exceeding animals’ and plants’ tolerance thresholds increased the death rates of plant and animal species. The cascading effects of these weather extremes are hard to manage. However, our actions will influence how plants and animal species adapt and respond to increasing temperatures. Mainly, global warming is a life-threatening climate change phenomenon that should be solved without further delay.
To begin with, global warming makes agricultural development more challenging. For instance, weather patterns become less favourable, increasing the volatility of livestock and crop yields. Researchers project an increase in temperatures, especially in Africa and other climate change-prone countries (Entessar Al Jbawi 1). Therefore, rainfall patterns may change more often than they already are. The high temperatures will lead to reduced yields of many crops. For instance, research associates elevated carbon dioxide levels with low nitrogen and protein content in soybean and alfalfa species, thus causing low-quality production. The reduced forage and grain quality reduce rangeland and pasture capacity for livestock grazing. This will also affect the economy because many countries’ economies depend on agricultural production. Also, some adaptation aspects are adversely affected by global warming. For example, many farmers in Africa and other developing countries are susceptible to high temperatures, variable yields, and rainfall fluctuations. The exceedingly high temperature prevents crop growth. Also, extreme events such as droughts and sudden floods harm crops and reduce yield production. According to Entessar Al Jbawi, between 2010 and 2012, the high night-time temperatures across the United States Corn Belt severely impacted corn yields (2). Also, the warm winter during this period caused premature budding, which resulted in a loss of about $220 million in Michigan cherries (Entessar Al Jbawi 2).
Additionally, global warming has caused severe environmental changes which affect human health. The rising sea level causes a reduction in coastal land, increased risks of floods and drought, changes in rainfall patterns, and a threat to biodiversity. Findings by the World Health Organization show that approximately 150,000 people die yearly because of climate change-related complications (Wright and Mary 1). For example, a temperature rise in tropical regions indicates an increase in mosquitoes, increasing the risks of dengue, malaria, and other infectious diseases. In 2006, the UK faced an outbreak of bacterial lung infection attributed to global warming (Wright and Mary 2). Other countries that may experience an increase in insect-borne diseases due to global warming in the near future are Europe, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan. The sick and elderly can suffer severe health effects from abnormally high temperatures. According to Wright, Caradee, and Mary (2), the 2003 heatwave in Europe caused about 35,000 deaths. Most of these people lost their lives due to heatstroke or hyperthermia. Also, people with heart problems are susceptible to extremely high temperatures because their cardiovascular systems should work hard enough to keep their bodies cool. The high temperature causes complications for people with lung diseases and asthma by increasing the ozone concentration.
Moreover, most global ocean life is experiencing exceedingly high temperatures due to global warming. This increase is barely measurable in many marine ecosystems. However, in the near-surface waters, the dramatic impacts of the warming on marine plants, animals, and microbes are evident. The closely associated changes in seawater chemistry cause deoxygenation, leaving less oxygen for marine plants and animal species (Denchak). As a result, seawater acidifies because it contains more carbon dioxide than oxygen. The warm water coral reefs are home to numerous aquatic life and are crucial for tropical fisheries, including other human and marine systems. Therefore, if the water temperature rises beyond a threshold of 1-2 degrees Celsius above the normal range, these ecosystems become vulnerable, and the aquatic organisms might suffer high mortalities. Between 2015 and 2017, many tropical seas experienced these conditions, resulting in extensive loss of corals because the animal hosts emitted the algal upon which the organisms depend (Hoegh-Guldberg 1523). After the mass bleaching of the corals, it usually takes a minimum of 15 years to recover the reef.
Migratory marine species like fish often respond to abnormally high sea temperatures by shifting to more favourable regions. Populations move from one pole to another or to deeper waters where there are preferred oxygen levels and temperatures. Consequentially, estimated future fishery yields under various global warming scenarios indicate a reduction of 4% in every degree of Celsius temperature increase (Hoegh-Guldberg 1523). Also, the high climate change levels could cause a loss of approximately half of this century’s current fish catch levels.
Although there are numerous negative impacts of climate change on plant life, some claim that extremely high temperatures also have positive effects. For example, some researchers argue that climate change may benefit some plant species by increasing the carbon dioxide supply and lengthening their growing seasons. Grapes, for example, often do well in high temperatures. Global warming also increases the carbon dioxide level, giving plants sufficient energy for photosynthesis. However, this argument is counterproductive because even though some crops can yield more when temperatures are exceedingly high and the carbon dioxide supply is high, the overall effects of global warming on agricultural production are adverse, thus threatening food security. Besides, the benefits of carbon dioxide and temperature increases on crop production cannot be realised without sufficient water availability, soil moisture, nutrient levels, and other farming conditions.
Other global warming proponents claim that high temperatures can help decrease cold-related mortalities in some countries apart from some tropical countries. Contrarily, studies show that global warming doesn’t reduce cold-related deaths in the northern latitudes. Ebi et al. researched temperature-related death rates, mainly among the elderly. The study shows that the reduction of cold-related mortality is insignificant (Ebi et al. 1320). In other words, it is much less than what some people assume. The study also shows that statistically, the factors causing deaths during the winters and those in cities with colder winters and similar to those in the warmer winters. As such, most of the deaths during the winter are not caused by colds but the health complications related to respiratory diseases and flu.
In conclusion, global warming is the central defining problem today, and the world is at a defining moment. With the changing climatic conditions that threaten food security and ever-rising sea levels that pose the risk of flooding, the effects of global warming are unprecedented and scope in scale. They threaten human life, agriculture, and marine ecosystems. If the world doesn’t adopt drastic actions today, it will be costly and challenging to adapt to these effects in the future. As it turns out, there is a lot we can do. Americans generate approximately 21 tonnes of carbon annually, which is four times the average worldwide. Personal action cannot substitute effective government policies. We should reduce carbon generation, refrain from using dirty fossil fuels, and embrace cleaner energy sources.
Denchak, Melissa. “Are the Effects of Global Warming Really That Bad?” National Resources Defense Council.
Ebi, Kristie L., et al. “Climate change and human health impacts in the United States: an update on the results of the US national assessment.” Environmental health perspectives 114.9 (2006): 1318-1324. doi:10.1289/ehp.8880
Enter Al Jawi. “Effect of Climate Change on Agriculture.” International Journal of Environment, vol. 9, no. 1, Feb. 2020. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/ije.v9i1.27653
Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove, and John F. Bruno. “The Impact of Climate Change on the World’s Marine Ecosystems.” Science, vol. 328, no. 5985, June 2010, p. 1523. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1189930.
Wright, Caradee Y., and Mary Norval. “Health risks associated with excessive exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation among outdoor workers in South Africa: An overview.” Frontiers in Public Health 9 (2021): 678680.