Discovery Science: Earth – Climate Change – The Effects of Climate Change

Earth Science: Climate Change – The Effects of Climate Change

Our blue planet is gradually growing warmer, with far-reaching consequences for human life and the environment. The full extent of these consequences cannot yet be calculated.

Climate change has begun, and it will continue throughout the 21st century. Under the most favorable circumstances, according to calculations based on the latest models, temperatures will increase by 3.24°F (1.8°C) by 2100, while in the worst-case scenario they will rise by some 11.52°F (6.4°C).

Much of the divergence in the calculated scenarios depends on the future emission levels of greenhouse gases. At the same time, the unpredictability of feedback effects among the climate system’s various components makes accurate forecasting extremely difficult.

Experts currently point to a likely rise in temperature of about 3.6°F – 5.4°F – (2-3°C), with substantial regional differences. The most pronounced warming is expected to occur in the Arctic region. There, sea ice will disappear during summer, and Greenland’s ice cap will melt away completely. Sea levels are predicted to rise between 7-23 inches (18-59 cm), flooding many coastal areas and threatening the existence of some low-lying island nations.

Worldwide, inland glaciers will melt, permafrost will thaw, deserts will expand, vegetation zones will shift, and tropical windstorms will increase in strength. In North America, heat waves and forest fires will be more common, while farmlands in South America will become drier and saltier. In Western Europe, precipitation will increase in winter and decrease in summer.

Around one billion people will suffer from drinking water shortages, and more than one-fourth of all plant and animal species will be threatened with extinction.


Involvement in the worldwide mobilization against climate change is a contribution to world peace. With this justification, the Nobel Prize Committee honored the activities of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the UN’s climate council (IPCC) in 2007 with the world’s most prominent political award, the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the same year the documentary film An In- convenient Truth, which starred Gore, won an Oscar. The film’s message: Humanity has only a few more years to prevent climatic catastrophe. Yet it can be done, if each individual takes personal responsibility for the effort.


GREENHOUSE EFFECT In 1896, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first calculated the warming effect on the Earth due to rising atmospheric CO., levels.

CLIMATE MODELS In 1967, Japanese meteorologist Syukuro Manabe performed the first climate model calculations reflecting increases in CO concentrations

WORLD CLIMATE CONFERENCE The first world conference on climate at which scientists discussed the greenhouse effect took place in Geneva in 1979.