SOLUTIONS to ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES
lie in the optimism and activism of the youth.
THE SIGNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Changing Rain &
Rising Sea Levels
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?
Temperatures have risen during the last 30 years, and 2000 to 2009 was the warmest decade ever recorded. Heat waves happen when a region experiences very high temperatures for several days and nights. On average, the world is already getting 2 percent more precipitation now than it did 100 years ago: 6 percent more in the United States. Since the 1970s, droughts have become longer and more extreme worldwide, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. The top layer of the ocean is now getting warmer at a rate of 0.2°F per decade. Many glaciers in Alaska and other parts of the United States have shrunk dramatically. If people keep adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, the average sea level around the world by the end of this century could be anywhere from 7 to 23 inches higher than it was in 1990. Sea level could rise even more if the big ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica melt faster.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE?
You’ve heard of grim timelines: if global warming continues, the Great Barrier Reef will be bleached by 2030; glaciers in the Swiss Alps, on Kilimanjaro, and in Glacier National Park will disappear in under 40 years; an Arctic ice melt will leave the North Pole bare and polar
bears extinct. These changes are already well under way all over the world. Temperature and weather extremes are being felt across the globe and greatly affect these animals. Humans are causing global
warming, and the effects are devastating. Global warming can be slowed down and potentially stopped with practical actions that yield a cleaner, healthier atmosphere. The question is: will we act soon
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Heat waves can be dangerous, causing illnesses such as heat stroke, or even death. Warmer temperatures can also lead to a chain reaction of other changes around the world. That's because increasing air temperature also affects the oceans, weather patterns, snow and ice, and plants and animals. A drought means there's less water available for drinking, watering crops, and other uses. Warmer oceans affect weather patterns and cause more powerful tropical storms, and can impact many kinds of sea life, such as corals and fish. Warmer oceans are also one of the main causes of rising sea level. As glaciers and the giant ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica melt, they add more water into the ocean, which causes sea level to rise. Rising sea level is a threat to people who live near the ocean. Some low-lying areas will have more frequent flooding, and very low-lying land could be submerged completely. Hurricanes and other storms can cause flooding; damage buildings, roads, and other structures; harm crops; and put people's lives in danger.