Environmental Issues Climate change

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are changing the Earth’s climate. The mid-range estimate for the next twenty years is an average global warming of 0.2ºC per decade, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This equates to a potential total increase of over 1.3ºC by 2040 compared to 1850-1900.

As a result, the frequency and intensity of storms is likely to increase, more areas will be affected by drought, and there will be hotter and more frequent heat waves in temperate zones. In some areas climate change will alter entire ecosystems (including agricultural systems), with grave consequences for biodiversity. Low lying coastal regions, deltas (which tend to hold large population concentrations and productive agricultural and natural systems) and coastal fisheries are particularly at risk.

Although all regions of the world will be affected by climate change, the poor in tropical countries will suffer the brunt of its impact, as they tend to live in the most exposed and least protected areas.

Action to mitigate climate change is also occurring more slowly than many people hoped it would, while the growth of greenhouse gas emissions is accelerating. If this trend continues the threshold for dangerous climate change – generally accepted to be 2 ºC – will be crossed, increasing the probability of severe, unpredictable and disruptive impacts.

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