The Extent and Potential Consequences of Future Global Warming

As we saw in Chapter 6, the Earth's weather has probably already been affected by the enhancement of the greenhouse effect due to increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other gases. The continuing buildup of C02 in the air leads to the conclusion that we are in store for further increases in global air temperatures and other changes to our climate.

In this section, we shall summarize what projections tell us qualitatively about the climate changes to expect in the coming decades and some of their consequences for human health.

Those of us who currently suffer through severe winters each year may look forward to the warmer climate associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect. After all, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, an increase of a few tenths of a degree in the northern temperate zone was sufficient for farming to occur on the coast of Greenland, for vineyards to flourish extensively in

England, and for the Vikings to travel the North Atlantic and settle in Newfoundland.

However, the climate changes predicted for the twenty-first century and beyond do not present a uniformly pleasant prospect. The rate of change in our climate, which to date has been modest, will be dramatic by the middle of the century. Indeed, the rapid rate of global change will probably be the greatest problem with which humanity will have to contend. A more gradual transition, even to the same end result, would be much easier to handle, not only for humans but for all living organisms on the planet.

It is very difficult for scientists to model the climate—even with the assistance of the fastest computers in the world—in order to make definitive statements about what changes will occur in particular regions in the future. We know that there will be substantial changes in the climate, but we are unable to specify exactly what they will be.

Continue reading here: Predictions for Climate Change by 2100

Was this article helpful?

0 0