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The youngest generation not only will be affected the most from the consequences of climate change, we already have been affected the most.

If we continue business as usual and do nothing to reduce our emissions, the predictions are scary. BUT, if we seriously reduce emissions now, we have a chance to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

 

The average global temperatures could be about 9 degrees higher in 2100 than in 2000. That’s equivalent to the difference in climate between New York and Mississippi! [2} The last ten years, 2000 to 2010, were the hottest ever recorded[1] and the months of 2010 were the hottest 12 months in a row of any in history.

As the world warms, ice caps and glaciers melt, which is happening literally before our eyes. Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as anywhere else, and the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than any model predicted. The North Pole could be completely ice-free by 2040.[3] The melting causes early snowmelt and droughts, meaning dramatic water shortages in the American West. (4).
As icecaps melt, sea levels rise. One hundred million people live within three feet of mean sea level. If Greenland were to melt completely, (which according to scientists, it’s entirely possible within the next century), sea levels would rise 23 feet, consuming New York city, much of Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, and all of the islands in the South Pacific. (5)
Some species are already losing their homes and food sources as a result of climate change – like the polar bears, for example. Scientists say two-thirds of all polar bears could disappear by 2050. They’re not the only living things in danger. If we do nothing, over HALF of ALL species will be extinct within a century.The warmer the climate, the more evaporation of water: drought results. This means large-scale food and water shortages. This is bad news for all farms, from Africa to California, which depend on water and healthy soils.

There is so much excess carbon in the ocean the chemical makeup is changing, becoming more acidic and threatening the lives of sea creatures and entire coral reefs “bleach” and die. If CO2 emissions continue rising at their current levels, scientists warn, most regions of the ocean would be totally uninhabitable to coral reefs by 2050. (6)
When it is hotter, there is more water vapor, which creates more extreme storms. Hurricane Katrina, crazy floods in Pakistan, droughts and wildfires in Australia, devastating droughts in Russia and huge blizzards all across the U.S. and other extreme weather events used to happen only every hundred years are now happening regularly (7).
Insects like mosquitos thrive and reproduce in warm, wet weather. Mosquitos spread infectious diseases from person to person – like malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis. If we do nothing, the number of people globally at risk from malaria could increase by 220 million – 400 million over the next 100 years. (8)

For more information check out these references:
  • [1]From National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) “State of the Climate” report, which drew on the findings more than 300 climate scientists in 48 countries who measured 10 separate planet-wide features, including air and sea temperatures, humidity, Arctic sea ice, glaciers, and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams-state-of-the-climate/
  • [2] Paul Krugman, “Building a Green Economy,” The New York Times. April 7, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/magazine/11Economy-t.html
  • [3]http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/science/earth/02arct.html
  • (4) http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/f101.asp
  • [5] http://www.aarpmagazine.org/lifestyle/global_meltdown.html
  • (6) Cornelia Dean, “Rising Acidity is Threatening Food Webs of Oceans, Climate Panel Says.” Jan 30, 2009. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/31/science/earth/31ocean.html?_r=2&ref=world
  • [7]http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/0804_050804_hurricanewarming.html Jason Gale and Bill Varner, “Global Warming Increase Malaria, Dengue Fever, UN Says.” Nov 27, 2007. Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aMKZ0M6en19o&refer=japan