With considerable attention focused on the effects of global warming in the 21st century, many people are interested in predictions of future climate change. Although many, if not most, scientists agree that the current trend of global warming will affect the climate, predictions are far from uniform in nature. In fact, the scientific predictions for future climate change vary widely in all directions, leaving a confused and concerned public unsure of what to expect in the coming years.
It is natural to assume that a warming trend would result in warmer temperatures around the world, but the matter is far from that simple. Indeed, most climate change scientists offer varying future climate change models based on exactly how much warmer the Earth’s temperature becomes by the year 2100 and beyond. Most predicting climate models are based on the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and take into account varying degrees of decreasing CO2 levels over the 21st century. Although almost all widely accepted models suggest that the overall temperature will rise, the amount and resulting effects vary greatly between scenarios.
According to the average of many future climate change predictions made at the dawn of the 21st century, the global temperature rise will be 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. Although a 3 degree change may sound minor, scientists insist that the resultant effects could be catastrophic for both humans and the planet as a whole. Loss of polar ice, massive flooding, increased desert climate, and severe storm increases are all commonly invoked outcomes of this seemingly small change.
Assuming that the average increase is correct, over the 21st century there is likely to be a severe increase in polar ice melt. This melting may lead to an increased sea level, inundating coastal regions around the world and potentially resulting in the loss of current coastal cities and inhabited islands. The sea is also expected to warm dramatically, causing devastation to marine wildlife and greatly increasing the production of hurricanes, typhoons, and severe marine storms.
Another devastating effect of many future climate change models is the spread of deserts around the world. Desertification is the result of a loss of nutrients in the topsoil of land, causing once-fertile areas to become unusable for agriculture. Not only will severe desertification destroy many temperate and tropical ecosystems, it may also seriously decrease human food supply as traditionally agricultural land becomes a wasteland.
Future climate change predictions are justifiably frightening, and seem to predict a long and difficult future ahead of the human race. Most scientists suggest that the best way to avoid or lessen many of the painful consequences of global warming is to immediately reduce carbon dioxide emissions dramatically. Switching to alternative, clean burning fuels, investing in alternative energy technology, and taking part in global efforts to educate people about sustainable practices may help prevent numerous disasters in the future. According to some experts, the best response to future climate change is preparation and prevention. Although many scientists agree that global warming effects are unavoidable, many experts believe that slowing their progression and lessening the impact to the planet need to become major priorities of both governments and world citizens alike.