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How Climate Change is Affecting the World's Ecology

The world’s climate has been changing, and it will continue to change for the remainder of the 21st century and beyond. These climate changes are transforming ecosystems on an extraordinary scale and pace. The following is an in-depth look into how climate change is causing this cascade of impacts upon the entire ecology of the world.

Warmer Surface and Water Temperature

During the past century, a rapid increase in world temperatures has been recorded, both on the Earth’s surface and in oceans. Since 1850, the average surface temperature has risen about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit as a whole. Unfortunately, if emission levels of greenhouse gases continue at their current rates, several models show that the globe will be between 4.3 and 11.5 degrees warmer by 2100 than in 1990. Shockingly, this extremely rapid climate change is expected to be ten times faster than the global warming after the last ice age. As one can imagine, these changes will have a tremendous impact and place great stress on the world’s ecosystem.

Rising Sea Levels

Increased water temperatures have already caused glaciers and land ice to melt, which adds more volume to the oceans. In addition, the seawater is beginning to expand in volume as it gets warmer. As a result, the global average sea level has risen by 0.12 inches every year since the 1990s. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to be at their high rate, models demonstrate that sea levels could rise two feet or more by the year 2100.

Changing Water Cycle

Climate changes have a complex impact upon water supply and demand in the short term. Since temperatures are rising, winter precipitation is beginning to fall increasingly as rain rather than snow, which affects the seasonal rhythms of rivers and streams. Warmer spring temperatures also cause the snow up in the mountain tops to melt faster and earlier than usual. Climate change means that some areas will experience more days with heavy rain, while other places will experience frequent, long-lasting droughts. Higher evaporation rates cause plants, animals, and people to be thirstier as well, thus increasing demands for water. Projections are showing that in most cases the dry areas of the world will get even drier, and wet areas will get wetter.

Escalating Risk of Extinction

Among all of the impacts resulting from climate change, extinction is the most permanent. Once a species is lost, it can never be revived. Since most species depend on the interactions of an array of features within their ecosystem, changes in the environment can be catastrophic to their survival. The number of extinctions currently from climate change may be small; but, if the level of warming occurs at the expected rate, about 20 to 30 percent of species could be at risk of extinction. In other words, the world would lose some 300,000 to 600,000 species as a direct result of climate change.

Overall, climate change is happening on a global scale and, depending upon which group of scientists you believe, it may be primarily caused by human actions. Fortunately, humans are capable of changing their behaviors in order to reduce future climate changes and help wild species adapt. Humans may have the power to reduce the aforementioned changes, so that the natural world and ecosystems on which we depend are saved.

How motorists can help reduce pollution

considerate driverOn certain days, you can feel like you're driving in a fog. Actually, you are. The fog, however, is not water droplets in the atmosphere. This fog is automobile droplets in the atmosphere; dust and dirt and gasoline emissions that are clogging our roads and ruining our air. Each time a car hits the road, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons flow out through the tailpipe into the atmosphere. They make you cough, they damage your lungs, and they bring on diseases such as asthma. They also form acid rain and build up greenhouse gases.

What can we do about it? The government can pass clear air bills, and some of that helps. Yet, most of the pollution comes from the millions of automobiles that pack our roads north to south, east to west and burn billions of gallons of gasoline. What can we - the motorists - do to help clean up our air?

One way to clean up the air is simply not to drive so much, or car pool. That sounds easy, but it isn't always practical. Sometimes, lots of times, we just have to drive. Do you have to drive a car 365 days a year though? Sometimes you can cut your motoring substantially by buying monthly car insurance. Also, if we have to drive, let's make it as clean a drive as possible. If you're about to buy a car, make sure you buy the most efficient automobile you can afford. That will le4ads to fewer emissions. You might consider a hybrid electric-gasoline model. Make sure you get regular oil changes and regular checkups. A cleaner car leads to less noxious smoke. Get a tight-fitting gas cap; that leads to lighter emissions. Keep your tires inflated at the proper pressure. Improve fuel economy by removing such wind-resistant items as luggage or boat racks.Now you have a cleaner car, which helps toward cleaner air. How about helping even more by keeping it off the road? Walk or ride a bicycle for short trips or just use the phone and don't take the trip at all. Combine several errands into one. Make one day a car-stays--in-the-garage special. Take a bus or train if you can. Before you begin any lengthy trip, make it as efficient as possible. Plan ahead.

If everyone followed these simple tips, one day we'd all be driving in a fog-free world - except, of course, for the water droplet kind.

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