Some effects on both the natural environment and human life are, at least in part, already being attributed to global warming. A 2001 report by the IPCC suggests that glacier retreat, ice shelf disruption such as the Larsen Ice Shelf, sea level rise, changes in rainfall patterns, increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, are being attributed in part to global warming. While changes are expected for overall patterns, intensity, and frequencies, it is difficult to attribute specific events to global warming. Other expected effects include water scarcity in some regions and increased precipitation in others, changes in mountain snowpack, and adverse health effects from warmer temperatures.
Increasing deaths, displacements, and economic losses projected due to extreme weather attributed to global warming may be exacerbated by growing population densities in affected areas, although temperate regions are projected to experience some minor benefits, such as fewer deaths due to cold exposure. A summary of probable effects and recent understanding can be found in the report made for the IPCC Third Assessment Report by Working Group II. The newer IPCC Fourth Assessment Report summary reports that there is observational evidence for an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic Ocean since about 1970, in correlation with the increase in sea surface temperature, but that the detection of long-term trends is complicated by the quality of records prior to routine satellite observations. The summary also states that there is no clear trend in the annual worldwide number of tropical cyclones.
Doesn't this scare the bejesus out of you? It does me, because 2020 is not that far away - 13 years away in fact - and I'll still be around (hopefully). It really makes me stop and think about the ways in which I contribute to global warming, as insignificant as it may seem for one person's actions, take that times several million, or billion, and we've got a problem.
- Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner. Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
- Cover your pots while cooking. Doing so can save a lot of the energy needed for preparing the dish. Even better are pressure cookers and steamers: they can save around 70%!
- Use less hot water. It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.
- Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.
These are just a few of the things we can do to help cut back on global warming. There's lots of information out there, valuable tips and ways we can do something. And it's our responsibility to do something; anyone living on this planet owes it to themselves, to their families, to each other to make a difference before we don't have a choice. Let's start now.