Climate change, or global warming, is an extremely important issue which is covered in GCSE Geography. This is one of four quizzes on the matter and it looks in particular at some of the consequences of global warming.
Global climate change is still sometimes referred to as global warming. The change is an overall rise in the Earth’s temperature, but some localised areas may see a drop in temperature as sea currents and air currents shift and change. That might not sound too bad, but there will be some dire consequences when the Earth's temperature rises. The most obvious effects will be melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels. Some areas will see an increase of extreme weather events, including heavy rain. This will lead to flooding and decreased water quality as the floods will contaminate clean water resources. Climate change will affect the poles and the tropics the most, but how will things change closer to home?
The consequences of global warming in Europe are not much better. It is expected that southern and central Europe will see more frequent heat waves, leading to more forest fires and droughts. The Mediterranean zone is already showing signs of becoming drier and its ecosystems changing - it's also becoming more vulnerable to droughts and wildfires. Those that live in Northern Europe (like us in the UK) will see wetter conditions and an increased risk of winter flooding. Four out of every five Europeans live in cities, but cities are difficult to move and need to be defended often using expensive hard engineering solutions. Beyond that, the buildings are often designed for the previous climate and it may be difficult to adapt these to the changing weather systems.
Wildlife is a leading victim of rapid climate change. The speed in which the climatic conditions are changing is preventing animals moving or adapting quickly enough for the species to survive. Artificial fixing of boundaries also prevents natural adaption to changing conditions. For example, as sea levels rise coral reefs would normally adapt by increasing the growth on the shallower side. But with fixed shipping channels and beach boundaries the slow movement of these colonies of organisms is prevented. Rising winter temperatures are preventing reptile brumination (their equivalent of hibernation) at the correct level, increasing the number of deaths over winter, and wetter summers may prevent numerous species from raising their young.