In December, before we entered the new year, scientists reported that 2015 was the hottest year in historical record. Crazy, right? But, why does that matter? Perhaps the weather felt no different than any other year to you. However, it matters because the Earth warmed about 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit since last year, making it the largest jump over a previous record. And although the number may be small, it is significantly high for the surface of an entire planet.
Climate change is a long-term change in the Earth’s overall temperature. Scientists have been collecting records on the Earth’s climate since 1880. The data collected proves that each year we are breaking new records by reaching a slightly higher temperature than before. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 2015 marked the fourth time that a global temperature record has been set this century.
There are many factors that play a role in increasing the Earth’s temperature, the biggest being greenhouse gasses. The gasses emitted into the atmosphere decrease the radiation that can escape to space, causing temperatures to rise.
In some places we have already begun to see the effects that warming temperatures are bringing. If we continue this record breaking streak we will experience an array of effects such as hurricanes, droughts, typhoons, flooding, heat waves and more. The Global Humanitarian Forum released a study in 2009 which found that disasters related to climate change kill about 300,000 people each year.
Although some of the impacts of climate change can be seen now, it is important to note the influences it will have in the future. Effects brought by precipitation are just one example of the importance of the impacts of climate change in the long run. Too much rain can lead to flooding disasters whereas too little can make an area uninhabitable or unproductive.
Some places are more prone to floods because of its population, landscape alterations, soil and devices to control such disasters. Landscape is altered to meet the demands of growing populations. This prevents heavy rainfall to enter the soil causing it to travel into the nearest stream. However, even though the water fills, sometimes overfills, streams it does not mean there is an increase in its flow.
Droughts are defined as the absence, rather than the presence of something. The absence of rain, of course, that then leads to the absence of crops. Droughts are prone everywhere, even in places with continuous rainfall such as London. Droughts effect agriculture, making land unproductive and sometimes even uninhabitable because the land can no longer be used for farming.