To most people, the idea of global warming is abstract-something that will impact other people in other places. The problem with such thinking is that it’s not based in reality. Most scientists agree, global warning will almost certainly impact every person alive over the next decade and beyond.
In the near term, most scientists agree that the greatest impact on the average person in the coming years will be economical. As the planet heats up, weather patterns will change causing serious changes in how and where food is grown. As shortages develop, prices will rise, and those that can’t afford it, will find themselves going without. Some aspects of this have already been seen-food prices are at an all time high, and several noted economists have claimed that food prices were the real cause of the latest recession, and are now keeping the country from fully recovering. When food prices rise, people have less money for purchasing other consumer goods.
The second greatest impact on the lives of the average person will likely be weather related. Global warming doesn’t mean it’s always going to be hotter, it means the planet will be a few degrees warmer which is enough to change weather patterns, sometimes drastically. Many examples have already been seen, record heat waves and tornadoes in the U.S., record snowfall and flooding in Europe, Asia and South America, more typhoons and hurricanes, etc. Many meteorologists are predicting that things are only going to grow worse as global warming continues. For the average person, this will mean more strong storms where they live happening more often. For some it will mean being victimized by tornados or other damaging storms as well.
Looking a little farther into the future, National Geographic Magazine recently reported that most scientists agree that ocean levels will rise to the point that towns, villages and cities near the sea, the world over, will be severely impacted. Some cities such as New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York and Miami will be forced to erect ever higher retaining walls or face constant flooding such as was seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The point they are trying to make is that most people in a position to know have begun to say such changes will happen, not that they might.
Another area of impact from global warming will almost certainly be the increased spread of disease. Most biologic pathogens prefer warm weather-the warmer and wetter the more they spread. As temperatures rise and weather changes, some predict worldwide pandemics and localized outbreaks of diseases such as typhus, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, here in the United States.
All in all, scientists around the world have stopped arguing about the cause of global warming and instead have begun to band together to sound the warning. It’s too late to stop it from happening, but not too late to make plans for making the best of a bad situation.