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

 

5 things you didn’t know about Volkswagen

Blog entry by Saraa | August 2, 2011

Last week we showed you evidence of VW actively lobbying in the US against the laws we need to protect our planet. Here are some more facts about Volkswagen that the company doesn't put on its billboards. 1. Only 6 per cent of...

Sankey road protest-No trees No future

Image gallery | July 19, 2011

Sankey road protest-No trees No future

Image gallery | July 19, 2011

Sankey road protest-No trees No future

Image gallery | July 19, 2011

Will Sunil Mittal commit to clean energy?

Blog entry by Abhishek Pratap | June 22, 2011

Finally the day had come. It was time to meet Bharti Airtel’s senior management to discuss their diesel phase out and adoption of clean energy plan for its business operation. They had agreed to meet us and discuss these demands after...

Being foolish for a smart future

Blog entry by Reema Ganguly | June 21, 2011

“I’m a fool for forests,” chimed Darsheel Safary. His shining eyes and naughty smile beamed into the camera. It took him less than five minutes to absorb the script and without a fuss we had a perfect take. “Support Greenpeace and save...

Indian oil deal funds Arctic destruction

Blog entry by Hozefa Merchant | June 7, 2011

The powers that be in our government and the corporate influence behind it,  are all canoodling behind the scenes. They’ll soon announce a deal that’ll give Cairn Energy 9 billion US dollars to fund its Arctic destruction plans. ...

Climate's phone connection

Blog entry by Abhishek Pratap | May 26, 2011

I got my first mobile phone almost six years ago. It was a second-hand Nokia 3310 passed on to me by my elder brother. At that time, I was working in the far-off western border of Kutch, for the protection of children’s rights. The...

The Arctic is melting faster than expected

Blog entry by Michelle Frey | May 6, 2011

The Arctic is melting faster than expected and could contribute 2-3 feet more in global sea levels by 2100 than earlier thought, experts state in a new report. The report shatters predictions made four years ago by the authoritative U...

Daily News: On Nuclear Debate

Blog entry by Angela S | March 16, 2011

Top News: Our thoughts remain with people of Japan today as the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reached another critical phase. Radiation is feared to have leaked after apparent hydrogen blasts at two more reactors. The...

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