What to Know About Climate Change – Latest Research and Findings

By Mobel 11 Min Read

What to Know About Climate Change: The Latest Research and Findings

Climate change has become an issue around the globe, from record floods to scorching heat waves, and is having devastating impacts on those most susceptible. Its effects have no mercy and impact lives everywhere, particularly those most at risk of its consequences.

Causes for these changes are well understood: humans emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Climate change is happening.

Human activities have long had an effect on Earth’s climate, particularly with regard to fossil fuel consumption, which produces greenhouse gas emissions that trap the sun’s heat and increase temperatures on planet Earth.

Scientists can assess the effects of climate change by studying patterns such as wildfires, floods, and droughts. Studies reveal that these events are becoming more frequent and intense as warmer air holds more moisture, resulting in heavy downpours that cause flooding or “compound events” like heat waves followed by severe drought. Houston experienced devastating flooding caused by this kind of weather pattern in 2017 and 2019.

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Although some still maintain that climate change remains a matter of scientific uncertainty, over 97 percent of publishing scientists acknowledge human contributions as the primary cause and that climate change poses risks for humanity. Evidence includes both direct observations as well as indirect indicators like carbon dioxide concentration levels escalating faster than natural levels or forms (isotopes) of carbon found in the atmosphere, showing how significant amounts come from old fossil fuels instead of new living sources.

Global warming has already caused real harm and will only become worse without significant reductions in greenhouse gases. Without action to stem climate change, temperatures are expected to increase along with sea levels rising, stronger storms occurring more frequently, less reliable rainfall patterns, and acidified oceans—changes that will disproportionately impact poor and vulnerable communities worldwide.

These impacts are felt most acutely by those with less wealth, who tend to live closer to the coast or in rural areas and possess fewer resources for protecting against climate-related disasters. People in these situations are more vulnerable than ever before when heat waves strike or floods or fires erupt; more likely than their wealthier counterparts to die during heat waves; forced from their homes due to floods or fires; have trouble accessing food, water, and energy sources after an event occurs; and face difficulty recovering afterward. TNC works hard to break this silence regarding climate change while equipping people to act upon it through training.

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It’s caused by humans.

Scientists generally accept that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Since the mid-20th century, Earth’s temperature has steadily been increasing as a direct result of humans adding heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons to its atmosphere, amplifying its natural greenhouse effect and slowing heat loss to space.

Warming is occurring faster than ever, leading to drastic changes to Earth’s landscape and weather patterns on a global scale. These climate shifts have direct consequences for animals, such as plants and insects, that depend on suitable environments to survive; water supplies, including rainfall, rivers, lakes, and oceans; as well as food sources. Climate change also directly affects animals living in polar regions who rely on sea ice shelter.

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Many animals have reached, or will soon reach, their limits when it comes to living conditions and climate. Habitat destruction threatens their existence, or they must adapt quickly to changes in conditions; all are key threats in today’s changing environment.

Human activity is driving these changes, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. The increased level of carbon dioxide is warming up our planet, impacting everything from sea level rise to more severe weather events.

Scientists can attribute warming to human activity through a comparison between current climate changes and those predicted by sophisticated models of Earth systems. Scientists have discovered strong evidence of human influence in their data, such as increasing CO2 levels over time, unprecedented warming events, and an atomic signature left by fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas known as their carbon isotope footprint.

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The evidence is so persuasive that even former climate deniers like Nobel Prize-winning physicist Willie Soon have come around after taking another look at it. A survey of 88,125 peer-reviewed papers shows that 97.1 percent agreed with this statement that Earth is warming due to human activities.

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It’s affecting animals.

Animals from across the globe are grappling with climate change as its rapid effects impact habitats and ecosystems they rely on, like birds nesting trees or water sources for wildfire-prone areas, while we continue to emit heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Climate change affects animals everywhere, whether in the arctic tundra of Russia or Africa’s jungles.

Climate change’s impacts vary significantly by species and region, but most animals will see their food and water sources diminish significantly, which often leads to malnutrition, disease, or even death in certain cases. Furthermore, animal travel becomes longer or faster in search of suitable environments, putting them at greater risk of injury or death during these journeys.

Warming temperatures in the Polar Regions have led to rapid melting and shrinkage of Arctic sea ice, an essential habitat for wildlife such as polar bears, Pacific walruses, and several seal species (bearded, harp ribbon, and ringed seals). These animals must move faster to find new, suitable living spaces as their normal home disintegrates.

Global warming temperatures are leading forests and grasslands around the globe to burn up or die off, leaving animals without shelter or food, and increasing heat-trapping gases to adapt faster than before. We humans continue to pump heat-trapping emissions into the atmosphere that further intensify these effects.

Warming temperatures are also altering seasonal life cycle events known as “phenology,” such as snowmelt, plant emergence and flowering, animal migration patterns, and snowdrift. Sometimes these changes cause animals to reconsider their survival strategies or chances at successful reproduction.

Higher ocean temperatures are making life harder for marine animals with shells or skeletons such as crabs, oysters, and coral. Corrosive ocean water wears away their bodies, forcing them to work even harder at repairing themselves.

Climate change’s devastating consequences are being felt by millions of people displaced due to extreme weather and drought conditions. Wildlife habitat destruction means these people don’t have access to freshwater supplies, food sources, or natural pesticides that provide natural protection.

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It’s affecting people.

Climate change impacts can be felt everywhere, from air quality to drinking water quality, leading us to reconsider family planning choices, putting homes at risk of flooding, and leading to food shortages in certain locations. Climate change also disrupts how we work as it disrupts supply chains and produces unpredictable weather patterns, impacting supply chains negatively while negatively affecting health, with heat-related deaths on the rise and insect-borne diseases spreading quickly across their ranges.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report shows that global warming is already negatively impacting physical, mental, spiritual, and community health and well-being, particularly among low-income communities, vulnerable nations and island states, as well as minority and Native American communities.

Oceans are bearing the brunt of climate change, absorbing more than 93% of the excess heat trapped by human-caused greenhouse gases and contributing to melting ice sheets and coral reef death around the world. Temperature-sensitive fish and marine life have altered migration patterns to find cooler waters, causing key food webs to unravel, and as global temperatures increase, disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks have spread globally, exposing millions more people to malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus infections, Lyme disease, and other deadly insect-borne illnesses caused by mosquito bites and ticks, leaving many vulnerable in their wake.

Temperature increases are also depleting energy resources and decreasing crop yields, making it more challenging to provide for families, particularly for poorer communities that rely heavily on agriculture and rural livelihoods as sources of sustenance. This puts food security at risk.

Wildfires and ozone-forming smog caused by burning fossil fuels expose people to harmful pollutants that exacerbate asthma and heart disease, while long-range transport poses particular threats for older adults, infants, and those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular conditions.

Extreme weather events are forcing more and more people off of their land, resulting in forced relocations that often create trauma and social unrest, along with decreased access to safe drinking water, education, health care services, and jobs, compounding both displacement and poverty, with the latter suffering more severe effects.

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