It’s now considered to be common knowledge that global warming could, or will, one day cause the polar ice caps to melt. And if that happens, coastal cities all over the world will become covered with water. But that’s not the only change that global warming can cause…or maybe already has caused. What does global warming really look like?
Going to Extremes
You don’t need a bunch of scientific charts and graphs to know whether it’s hot outside. And lately, winter hasn’t been hot. Deep snows, freezing ice, extreme low temperatures and hail don’t feel much like global warming .
Remember the polar vortex? Many doubters pointed to these extreme cold temperatures as proof positive that global warming isn’t happening at all. Some even went far enough to call global warming a “hoax.”
Putting it into Perspective
Weather that affects the United States doesn’t necessarily touch other parts of the world. Remember that the entire U.S. accounts for less than 2 percent of the total surface area of Earth. That’s a really small amount. So while the U.S. is getting chilled by Arctic air , Australia is sweating under record high temperatures.
But in fact, there is some evidence to suggest that global warming is actually responsible for the extreme winter weather in recent years. The Arctic is heating up faster than any other part of the planet. Sunlight warms up the cold ocean water, and more sun is touching the water because so much of the arctic ice has melted. All this warmth causes the jet stream to both shrink and work less efficiently. When the jet stream, a current of warm air, doesn’t work the same way then arctic air escapes the North Pole. And when that cold air converges on the United States, it becomes a polar vortex.
The research isn’t ironclad, it’s still just a theory, but it is evidence that global warming may be our reality. And if this is the current reality of global warming , the future begins to look somewhat grim.
Living with Climate Change
As the Earth’s temperature rises , not only will the ice caps melt. All of the glaciers could melt, the tundras will warm and many coastlines will vanish. But that’s not all. The extreme heat will create extreme weather in many forms. Many more storms will rock the planet. Seasons will disappear (most notably, spring and fall). And the excess of ocean water will make fresh water more difficult to find.
Global warming looks like extreme weather, less water and vanishing cities. In the long term, it could change the planet dramatically. Animals will begin to change and adapt, humans included. The species that cannot survive the changes will die. For some, living with long-term climate change will not be possible. That all looks…pretty frightening.