No one knows how much warming is "safe". What we do know is that climate change is already harming people and ecosystems. Its reality can be seen in melting glaciers, disintegrating polar ice, thawing permafrost, changing monsoon patterns, rising sea levels, changing ecosystems and fatal heat waves.

Scientists are not the only ones talking about these changes. From the apple growers in Himachal to the farmers in Vidharbha and those living in disappearing islands in the Sunderbans are already struggling with the impacts of climate change.

But this is just the beginning. We need to act to avoid catastrophic climate change. While not all regional effects are known yet, here are some likely future effects if we allow current trends to continue.

Relatively likely and early effects of small to moderate warming:

  • Rise in sea level due to melting glaciers and the thermal expansion of the oceans as global temperature increases.

  • Massive release of greenhouse gases from melting permafrost and dying forests.

  • A high risk of more extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and floods. The global incidence of drought has already doubled over the past 30 years.

  • Severe regional impacts. Example: In Europe river flooding will increase and in coastal areas the risk of flooding, erosion and wetland loss will increase substantially.

  • Natural systems, including glaciers, coral reefs, mangroves, Arctic ecosystems, alpine ecosystems, Boreal forests, tropical forests, prairie wetlands and native grasslands, will be severely threatened.

  •  The existing risks of species extinction and biodiversity loss will increase.

  • The greatest impacts will be on the poorer countries least able to protect themselves from rising sea levels. There will be spread of disease and declines in agricultural production in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

  •  At all scales of climate change, developing countries will suffer the most.

Longer term catastrophic effects if warming continues:

  • Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting. Unless checked, warming from emissions may trigger the irreversible meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet in the coming decades, which would add up to a seven meters rise in sea-level over some centuries. New evidence showing the rate of ice discharge from parts of the Antarctic means that it is also facing a risk of meltdown.

  • The slowing, shifting or shutting down of the Atlantic Gulf stream current is having dramatic effects in Europe, disrupting the global ocean circulation system.

  • Catastrophic releases of methane from the oceans are leading to rapid increases in methane in the atmosphere and the consequent warming.

Never before has humanity been forced to grapple with such an immense environmental crisis. If we do not take urgent and immediate action to stop global warming, the damage could become irreversible.

The latest updates

 

COP17 - Week one round up

Blog entry by Jess Miller | December 6, 2011

For a week now government negotiators working on the plan for ‘Long Term Co-operative Action’ on climate change have been scattered across a conference  center in Durban, South Africa negotiating over the wide range of issues not...

Politicians need to listen to the people, not the polluters

Blog entry by Tzeporah Berman | December 5, 2011

Corporations who bear the most responsibility for contributing to climate change emissions - and then profiting from those activities - are campaigning to increase their access to international negotiations like the upcoming COP17...

Tigers reach coal ministry's office

Image gallery | December 1, 2011

Tigers reach coal ministry's office

Image gallery | December 1, 2011

Tigers reach coal ministry's office

Image gallery | December 1, 2011

Indian Guide to Greener Electronics version 11

Publication | November 9, 2011 at 11:00

Greenpeace released a new and upgraded version of its Guide to Greener Electronics wherein Wipro retains the top slot followed by HCL Infosystem in the Indian version. The international version ranks the IT manufacturing company HP at the top...

Deniers exposed. Confirmed again: climate change is real.

Blog entry by Anna K | October 24, 2011

In an amusing turn of events today, a scientific study funded largely by climate skeptics has shown that the established scientific consensus on climate change is, in fact, correct. It comes as no surprise to Greenpeace that the...

Good news: Google comes clean on energy use

Blog entry by Tom Dowdall | September 9, 2011

Google has finally released information on exactly how much energy it takes to provide searches, email, Youtube videos and all other Google services. For years Google has claimed this information was a “trade secret”, despite many...

Shell less than transparent about worst UK oil spill in a decade

Blog entry by Bex | August 18, 2011

As I write, Shell is working to contain an oil spill off the Aberdeenshire coast that is already, reportedly , the worst spill in UK waters for over a decade. As well as indulging in some shameless greenwashing (Shell is choosing...

Saving the last tree

Blog entry by Brikesh Singh | August 9, 2011

It was about 9:00 pm and I had been sitting on the half dead Raintree, 25 ft from the ground for over 7 hours. The sound of djembes being played with all the excitement had disappeared with the sunset, the candle light vigil was...

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