The International Writers Magazine
:Global Warming

Climate of fear
Gina Birch

f you have ever wondered what the world would be like half a century from now, then you will have considered prospective wars, ever faster changes in technology, fashion and the economy. It's a world that will definitely be very different, but how will global warming play its part in history?

The Hollywood film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ depicted it’s own views on what is to come but how accurate was the writer, producer and director Roland Emmerich?
Following years of studies, this is the weather forecast for the next fifty years.

Global warming is the gradual increase in global temperatures caused by the emission of gases that trap the sun's heat in the Earth's atmosphere. Gases that contribute to global warming include carbon monoxide emissions which are primarily caused by the use of fossil fuels for energy. This rise in global temperature is as we speak, causing irreversible climate change, both to the surface air temperature as well as the sub-surface ocean temperature. It is predicted that by 2050 temperatures will rise by approximately ten degrees Fahrenheit and therefore droughts and heat waves will become vastly more common across the globe. The higher temperatures will also mean that ice caps will melt more rapidly. The Greenland ice sheet is likely to rise in temperature by three degrees in the next hundred years, contributing to its complete and irreversible meltdown which, when it occurs, could raise the average global sea level by seven metres.

LA Twisters

New York rising damp

New York, Buenos Aires and Tokyo are all vulnerable to this rising sea level and the city of Venice could soon be seen solely by submarine. The ocean itself becoming warmer is putting coral at risk and already the bleaching of some reefs have been observed due to the excessive sea temperatures. However, it is not only the heat that is causing the coral reefs to suffer, the carbon monoxide is a direct threat as it makes the water more acidic. So will this be the end of this beautiful sea life?

Climate change is not the only effects that will be seen over the next fifty years due to the effects of greenhouse gases trapped in the ozone layer. Just like in the blockbuster film, the storms are about to get nasty, worse even than the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina this year. Research shows that global warming will contribute to the growing intensity of hurricanes in the future, by eight to sixteen percent with rainfall increasing by twelve to twenty six percent within sixty miles of the eye of the storm. (There were a record 14 hurricanes this year in the USA.) This increased heavy rainfall will cause many more floods and will raise sea levels in conjunction with the problems near and around the Arctic Circle. This slow circulation of warming water will spread diseases such as cholera and malaria to countries that have not seen the likes them before and they will not be prepared. Fish, who like very cold water will need to migrate ever further north and this will cause many territorial disputes and hardship for fishermen.

The most noticeable cause of global warming to the human eye is the smog that appears in urbanized areas and cities due to the increased carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles. This will get worse by 2050, unless electric powered vehicles become the norm and the quality of the air will drastically deteriorate. According to scientific studies, people in fifteen cities in the eastern United States will, on average, experience a sixty percent increase in the number of days when ozone levels exceed the health-based air quality standard set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and a doubling of "red alert" air quality days from two to four per summer. This will aid the extinction of hundreds of thousands of species of animal and plant life due to declining habitats as a result of rising temperatures and disintegrating air quality.

The Day After Tomorrow’ was fictional but there was an element of warning about it rather than truth, that if the carbon monoxide emissions are not decreased from the level they are currently at, the world will become unbearable. There is no one approach that can solve the problem by itself, but a collection of emission reduction methods such as hybrid cars, wind power, geological carbon monoxide storage, and re-forestation can lead to a feasible pathway to carbon monoxide stabilization. But who will stop the famers in Brazil from devasting the forests before it is too late> Who will get the Americans out of their precious SUV's? Who will be the first to use less energy and provide tax breaks for frugal engery consumption in house and home? Why doesn't every home have solar panels? There will be a future, it's choice we make now that sill dictate as to whether it will be habitable or hell on earth.
Will you take the first step?
© Gina Birch Dec 7th 2005

Gina is a Creative Arts student at the University of Portsmouth
Still images form Day After Tomorrow


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