5 Global Warming Facts: Learn About the Causes and Effects

meat wine brown bearIt’s hard to watch television, read the paper, or go online without coming across facts about global warming prevention. You may already feel like you’ve got the basics down. Some of the more interesting global warming facts may have escaped your attention, though, as they don’t get quite as much coverage. The more time you spend digging into global warming causes and effects, the more you’ll realize that climate change goes beyond some of the most catastrophic (and newsworthy) problems associated with it. Global warming will transform your life at basic levels that we’re just beginning to understand.

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Global warming causes you may not have known about

You’re likely aware that many of your daily activities — driving your car, cooling and heating your home, operating electronic devices — produce greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide. You may not, however, be aware of some other major global warming causes that you encounter regularly. For instance,

  • The meat on your plate: Deforestation, especially of tropical rainforests, is one of the major causes of global warming, and residents of countries such as Brazil and Costa Rica often destroy these forests to create grazing space for cattle. Choosing to eat less meat, and purchasing the meat you do eat from local sources, should be a part of your plan to lighten your own carbon footprint.
  • The food and yard wastes you throw away: When you send food wastes, grass clippings, and other organic materials to the landfill, they’re much more likely to end up producing methane because they’ll decompose in an anaerobic (or oxygen-free) environment. Composting those wastes, whether by sending them to a large-scale operation, or adding them to your own compost pile or bin, will allow for oxygen-rich decomposition… which prevents methane emissions, and “closes the loop” by creating material you can use for garden and plant fertilizer.

What effects will global warming have on the planet… and on people?

You’ve likely read about some of the actual and potential catastrophic effects of global warming, such as increased severe weather events, desertification, and water shortages. We’re already seeing the consequences of such problems: a recent report on the effects of global warming from the Global Humanitarian Forum “indicates that more than 300 million people are seriously affected by climate change at a total economic cost of $125 billion per year.”

In addition to large-scale humanitarian crises, climate change will have effects you may not have heard about, including

  • Harming wine production: Do you enjoy a glass of wine every now and then? It turns out that grape production is the “canary in the coal mine” for agricultural effects of global warming. Temperate zones that have produced some of the world’s great wines are already seeing significant changes in harvest times and the quality of the grapes grown. French wines, American pinot noir, and light and dry wines are all at risk.
  • Making it more likely you’ll be attacked by a bear: Huh? Seriously: changes in climate have affected animals’ normal patterns of migration and hibernation. In Russia, for instance, brown bears have become unusually aggressive during winter months, and it’s likely because they’re not able to hibernate as long as usual because Spring is coming earlier. Don’t you get cranky when you haven’t had enough sleep?
  • Make your allergies and/or asthma worse: Do you suffer from pollen allergies or asthma? Make sure you’ve got your meds on hand: increases in allergy and asthma attacks because of longer seasons for pollen production are just one potential health risk posed by global warming.

Global warming will affect all of us

Global warming isn’t just something that’s happening “out there”: rather, it will likely affect you in terms of your health, your access to resources, and your pocketbook. If you’re interested in finding out about more potential effects of a changing climate, check out the Center for American Progress’ “The Top 100 Effects of Global Warming.”

Image credits: Marshmallow, procsilas, and jenny downing at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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