Climate change: 4 ways we feel the heat

Will countries be able to stem greenhouse gases? Already, the impact of climate change is evident. Image:
Will countries be able to stem greenhouse gases? Already, the impact of climate change is evident. Image:
It’s done. An agreement to stem the tide of climate change unites more than 190 nations, all of whom have promised to lower greenhouse emissions.

    But with or without the deal made at the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris, the world is already feeling the heat. Here are four examples:

      Sea level rise: Recurrent flooding is already an issue along the U.S. East Coast. More is to come. Scientists are measuring ice melt around the edges of Greenland, where the ice sheet is three times the size of Texas, according to NASA. That's enough water to raise global sea levels by 20 feet.

      Climate refugees: This year, scientists studying climate patterns predicted that in coming years some areas of the Middle East will heat up to the point where they become uninhabitable. But there are other problems, as well. Sea level rise is already having an effect on where people live. Three remote Alaska villages, threatened by thinning ice and rising water, have begun relocation plans.
    Researchers at the University 
Agriculture Department's 
Station call this “the 
climate refugees.”

     Air quality: In China, schools were closed earlier this month as the result of air quality. For the first time, Beijing officials issued the highest warning for smog, CNN reported. 
     While China’s smog issues are visible, Southern California residents are dealing with an invisible problem. An intense smell flooded the Porter Ranch area after the rupture of a natural gas storage well in nearby Aliso Canyon. The Environmental Defense Fund’s website explains: “Natural gas is made mostly of methane, and when it is released unburned, it has a warming power over 84 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years.”

     Loss of rainfall: The Amazon rain forest contains an estimated one-third of the world’s rain forest, and in recent decades, scientists and environmentalists have been concerned about the clearing of forest land. 
     “In many computer models of future climate, replacing tropical forests with a landscape of pasture and crops creates a drier, hotter climate in the tropics. Some models also predict that tropical deforestation will disrupt rainfall pattern far outside the tropics, including China, northern Mexico, and the south-central United States,” reports
     Western Brazil already has lost a substantial amount of its 208,000 square kilometers of forest, NASA reports. By 1978, 4,200 square kilometers (1,621 square miles) had been cleared, and by 2003 an estimated 67,764 square kilometers of rain forest (26,163 square miles) had been cleared, the space agency's website reported.That’s an area larger than West Virginia.



     Scientists warn: Sea level rise a matter of time

     NASA in Brief: Climate still warming, study finds

     Research: Deadly heat too much for humans

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