Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Beginning of the End

What is it going to take for us to finally realize that we destroying the ability of our planet to support life as we know it. At what point do we rise up and stop policy makers from continuing down a road that will ensure our certain destruction. Wars will be fought over water, not oil, religion or ideology. The harmful effects of global warming are already showing up, and within a couple of decades hundreds of millions of people won't have enough water to survive as millions of others will be flooded out of their homes as the Earth reels from rising temperatures and sea levels. Tropical diseases like malaria will spread. By 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos, their habitats gone while pests like fire ants will thrive.

Changes in climate are now affecting physical and biological systems on every continent. Changes are happening faster than scientist originally expected and the scientific community is highly confident that many current problems - change in species' habits and habitats, more acidified oceans, loss of wetlands, bleaching of coral reefs, and increases in allergy-inducing pollen - can be blamed on global warming. North America is already experiencing substantial ecosystem, social and cultural disruption from recent climate extremes, such as hurricanes and wildfires. However, the present is nothing compared to the future as we are truly are standing at the edge of a mass extinction event.

What can we expect in our near future? Hundreds of millions of Africans and tens of millions of Latin Americans who now have water will be short of it in less than 20 years. By 2050, more than 1 billion people in Asia could face water shortages. By 2080, water shortages could threaten 1.1 billion to 3.2 billion people, depending on the level of greenhouse gases that cars and industry spew into the air. Death rates for the world's poor from global warming-related illnesses, such as malnutrition and diarrhea, will rise by 2030. Malaria and dengue fever, as well as illnesses from eating contaminated shellfish, are likely to grow. Europe's small glaciers will disappear with many of the continent's large glaciers shrinking dramatically by 2050. And half of Europe's plant species could be vulnerable, endangered or extinct by 2100.

By 2080, between 200 million and 600 million people could be hungry because of global warming. About 100 million people each year could be flooded by 2080 by rising seas. Smog in U.S. cities will worsen and "ozone-related deaths from climate (will) increase by approximately 4.5 percent for the mid-2050s, compared with 1990s levels," turning a small health risk into a substantial one. Polar bears in the wild and other animals will be pushed to extinction. Many - not all - of these effects can be prevented if within a generation the world slows its emissions of carbon dioxide and if the level of greenhouse gases sticking around in the atmosphere stabilizes. The future is now and it is all up to us…what are you going to do?

Think about it.

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