In 2001 scientists declared that "overwhelming
odds" pointed to global average temperatures rising 4 to 7 degrees
over the coming century. As early as 2030 the planet would likely
heat up 1 to 2 degrees. By comparison, a one-degree temperature rise
was observed over the past century. (The study is funded in part by
the National Science Foundation (NSF) and appears in the July 20,
2001 issue of the journal Science.)
In 2007, a United Nations panel of 2500 scientists from 130
countries concluded that temperatures are likely to rise 5.4 degrees
(3 degrees Celsius) by the year 2100.
Much more rain is anticipated in coming decades as the ice caps
melt. Tropical hurricanes may actually become less frequent,
according to U.N. panel of scientists, but may nonetheless increase
in severity. At the same time, drier weather is anticipated in
much of the American West, especially in the SouthWest.
Agricultural patterns worldwide are being affected. For
examples, vineyards in California are adversely affected by the
Rising sea levels could mean future category 2 and 3 storms could
cause much more severe flooding than anticipated otherwise, in
low-lying coastal areas.
THE IMPACT ON PLANTS AND ANIMALS
As the planet grows ever warmer, and former cold zones give way
to rising temperatures, plant and animal species are being affected.
Wading birds such as the ringed plover now spend winters in the east
of Britain rather than on the west coast. Polar bears are in
danger of becoming extinct, as the ice shelves disappear and they
are forced to swim further distances, resulting in many drowning.
The habitat of the arctic fox is also in danger. Seal habitat
is shrinking. Harlequin frogs are dying, the result of a
fungus spurred on by the warmer weather. Krill shrimp, the
food of Adeline penguins, are decreasing because warmer ocean waters
are killing algae, in turn shrinking the penguins' habitat.
Monarch butterflies' migration path has changed. Cold water
fish and arctic reefs are in danger from warmer sea temperatures.
Already, Canadian Inuit village life is being transformed as
rising temperatures are thinning the ice and leading to a loss of
hunting and polar bears.