We believe that global warming is a real phenomenon. The science behind it is irrefutable and supported by data recorded over the past century. Despite the general consensus among scientists that global warming exists, there are many people that refuse to acknowledge or connect the overwhelming evidence to the current climate crisis. The debate between the scientific establishment and global warming deniers has been going on for years, with no end in sight. Unfortunately, making significant progress may be hindered unless we can find common ground, stand together and act now.
Those who wish to deny climate change and global warming fall into three basic categories:
Some people do not believe that global warming is actually happening despite overwhelming evidence. In some cases, these individuals or groups point to cold weather experienced for a limited time or in a specific region as evidence that global warming is not a fact. This argument depends on anecdotal reports and outlier climate events for its support. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has debunked this theory, pointing out that warmer overall temperatures do not prevent blizzards and record cold temperatures. We believe, and scientists agree, that micro-events of colder-than-usual temperatures do not contradict the evidence for global warming.
Others accept that the average temperatures around the globe are steadily increasing. They deny, however, that this increase is the result of human activities. Instead, they attribute the rise in average temperatures to other factors, including natural cycles of heat and cold that have occurred throughout the course of human history. Many people who support this theory cite the Medieval Warm Period as a time before industrialization when temperatures were reported to have risen significantly. Others argue that the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is attributable to natural processes that have little or nothing to do with human industrial activities. This is not accurate, however. Scientists are in agreement that the current warming trend across the globe is the result of human activity.
A third group of climate change deniers believe that global warming is happening and that it is probably the result of human activities. They do not, however, believe that the effects of global warming are as serious or dangerous as scientists and researchers indicate. Instead, these individuals argue that global warming is producing many positive effects and that those who say otherwise are simply broadcasting a message of doom that has little connection with reality. According to this theory, animals and plants will adapt to the changes in average temperatures and will emerge relatively unscathed from global warming. We can see, however, that this is not the case. The effects of global warming on people and on plants and animals are provable and real. From the shrinking population of polar bears to the potential for mass fish die-offs caused by ocean warming, we believe that the evidence is clear and incontrovertible that global warming is taking a toll on the world's wildlife.
There is plenty of real scientific evidence that supports the existence of global warming and its negative effects on the environment. Taking a closer look at the effects of global warming on the plants, animals and people who inhabit various ecosystems can provide a clearer picture of the true impact of this issue on the world in which we live.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence that global warming is a real phenomenon and that it is having a negative impact on people, animals and plants around the world. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has compiled a list of the most compelling evidence for global warming. We have compiled examples of this evidence for you to consider:
The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), a division of NASA, tracks average temperatures around the globe. According to a 2017 report by GISS, 2016 was the warmest year on record since 1880, the first year in which temperatures were officially measured and tracked. The year 2016 was the third year in a row to break previous records for average surface temperatures on Earth. Average global temperatures have risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, which constitutes a truly significant increase in these temperatures.
The temperature of the ocean is rising dramatically. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the top 328 feet of the ocean's surface has increased in temperature by 0.6 degrees since 1969. Given the size of the ocean, this is an extremely large shift in its overall temperature that has already had an impact on many marine species. According to the World Wildlife Federation, plankton, polar bears, walruses, seal, penguins and many other species of animals and plants have already felt the effects of this change in ocean temperature. Plankton, in particular, serve as a food source for fish and marine animals, which then serve as food for seals. Polar bears depend on a high population of seals as part of their regular diet. Polar bears and penguins are also endangered by the shrinking of ocean ice caused by rising temperatures. This has led to starvation and a lack of safe habitats for many animals that live in polar regions.
Ocean levels are also rising, putting many island and coastal areas at risk. NOAA indicates that the global mean sea level has increased by between eight and nine inches since 1880. The year 2019 broke the existing record for global mean sea levels, which could pose serious threats to low-lying coastal and island communities. BBC News reports that Venice, Italy, is in the process of sinking because of climate change and higher ocean levels around the world.
The National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) measures the surface area of ice and ice pack at the poles of the Earth. According to NSIDC data, the extent of area covered by ice during winter in the Arctic Circle has decreased by about three percent each decade since regular measurements began between 1981 and 2010. The Antarctic has also experienced lower-than-normal ice coverage in the years 2016 through 2018. Most research indicates that the extent of area covered by Arctic ice has been in decline since about 1950. Higher average temperatures are responsible for the melting ice at the poles of the Earth.
NSDIC also monitors glaciers around the world. In Greenland, Antarctica and other areas of the world, glaciers have been receding and vanishing because of higher temperatures in the areas in which they occur. NSDIC estimates that the current high rate of glacier loss began in the late 1970s. The U.S. Geological Survey cites some of the effects of melting glaciers as the loss of habitats and water sources for animals and impacts on fish that depend on cold water to survive.
The loss of ice is also associated with higher temperatures around the world. Ice in glaciers and at the poles can reflect the sun's rays and reduce the heat trapped at the surface of the Earth. When it melts, however, it exposes bare ground that absorbs sunlight and heat far more effectively to increase the rate of global warming. In this way, the cycle of global warming continues and intensifies to put all of us at risk.
To put this into perspective, The World Counts has released figures indicating that 750 billion tons of ice melt every year as a direct result of global warming. This adds up to the equivalent of 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of water resulting from ice melting during every single second across the globe.
Changes in the temperature of the oceans and mean sea levels have made hurricanes more serious and severe. Yale Climate Connections attributes significant increases in the severity of hurricanes over the past 20 years to increased moisture in the air and rising sea levels caused by global warming. In 2018 and 2019, for example, the Office for Coastal Management of NOAA reported 28 weather disasters in the United States that cost more than $1 billion. Between 2015 and 2019, an average of nearly 14 weather and climate disasters occurred each year.
As global warming intensifies, the number of deaths attributable to hurricanes is also increasing. NOAA's National Hurricane Center reports that Hurricane Dorian claimed the lives of between 74 and 200 people in the Bahamas in 2019. In 2018, Hurricane Florence caused 51 deaths in the United States. Hurricane Michael was responsible for 16 more deaths during the same year. Britannica.com notes that human lives are not the only ones lost in these severe storms. Birds, sea turtles, marine wildlife, coral reefs, and trees are also destroyed by hurricane-force winds and the storms that produce them. We must act now to restore the natural balance and to protect vulnerable species from the threat posed by these increasingly severe storms.
Even in areas where hurricanes do not pose a threat, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and NOAA point to higher humidity levels around the world as evidence that higher air temperatures are allowing the atmosphere to retain more water through evaporation. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas that traps heat near the surface of the earth. More water vapor means more heat trapped in this area and higher temperatures overall.
NOAA also notes that human activities have had a measurable impact on greenhouse gas levels that contribute to global warming. Nearly all climate scientists agree that global warming is directly linked to pollution caused by humans. This level of general consensus is rare and reflects the certainty of the scientific community on this issue.
The effects of global warming are already being felt in many parts of the world. NOAA has identified changes in water resources as a major threat to people in South America and in the western portion of the United States. As snowpack melts earlier and with greater speed, it takes away some of the water needed for agricultural and daily consumption in these areas. This can also affect food supplies for people living in water-deprived areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released information indicating that deaths from heatstroke, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and related issues increase during heat waves, which are becoming ever more common in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
The arguments presented by climate change deniers are weak and without scientific merit. As we have shown, the evidence of global warming is abundant and clear. Only by acting now to reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases can we prevent catastrophic consequences for ourselves and the animals and plants that share our world.