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

 

Greenpeace activists find interesting ways

Image | February 7, 2008 at 12:31

Greenpeace activists find interesting ways to make cricket fans aware of climate change.

Greenpeace activists find interesting ways

Image | February 7, 2008 at 12:31

Greenpeace activists find interesting ways to make cricket fans aware of climate change.

Cricket, Cinema and Climate Change

Feature story | February 7, 2008 at 5:30

Everyone knows that Cricket and Cinema are possibly the two greatest uniting factors in India. When we heard that a cricket match was going to be played by movie stars in Chennai, we knew that it was the perfect place to talk about climate change.

Greenpeace demonstrates outside the Auto

Image | January 11, 2008 at 19:06

Greenpeace demonstrates outside the Auto Expo 2008 in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi about the impact of the Indian automobile industry on global warming. With the Indian car industry poised for a boom, the Co2 emissions from this sector will grow...

Greenpeace demonstrates outside the Auto

Image | January 11, 2008 at 19:06

Greenpeace demonstrates outside the Auto Expo 2008 in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi about the impact of the Indian automobile industry on global warming. With the Indian car industry poised for a boom, the Co2 emissions from this sector will grow...

Greenpeace demonstrates outside the Auto

Image | January 11, 2008 at 19:06

Greenpeace demonstrates outside the Auto Expo 2008 in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi about the impact of the Indian automobile industry on global warming. With the Indian car industry poised for a boom, the Co2 emissions from this sector will grow...

2007 review

Feature story | January 8, 2008 at 16:29

Like many of you around the world, we also like to take time at the beginning of the new year to look back at the one just passed, to toast its high points and to regret its lows, to take stock and to look forward to the possibilities and...

Bali climate talks back from the brink, but substance missing

Feature story | January 2, 2008 at 20:09

The world turned here in Bali today as the conference booed and jeered US attempts to block a successful outcome.

On the Global Day of Action against Climate

Image | December 8, 2007 at 5:30

On the Global Day of Action against Climate Change over thousand Bangaloreans joined Greenpeace at the M Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium to spread awareness about the issue, while wathching thier favourite cricketers play.Climate change is one of the...

On the Global Day of Action against Climate

Image | December 8, 2007 at 5:30

On the Global Day of Action against Climate Change over thousand Bangaloreans joined Greenpeace at the M Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium to spread awareness about the issue, while wathching thier favourite cricketers play.Climate change is one of the...

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