by Paola Salomon
According to Craig Welch (2015) there are five reasons that we need to take action on climate change. The first is the negative impact of global warming on the West Antarctic ice sheet. Since late 19th century the ocean temperature has risen, melting “a significant section of ice in the Amundsen Sea in the Southern Oceans.” Antarctica’s South Dakota-sized Thwaites Glacier has dwindled in the last decades, and once this glacier melts completely it could destabilize other areas of the West Antarctic ice sheet, causing even a more massive melt. In this case, sea levels will rise 16 feet more, affecting hundreds of millions of people. The second reason to take action is the melting permafrost. This icy frozen crust of shrubs and grass found throughout the Arctic can potentially transform the landscape into a feedback loop. The concern here is that the permafrost has “kept billions of tons of carbon trapped for thousands of years,” and if it were to melt there would be a huge release of carbon dioxide in addition to other more-potent methane causing a greater effect in climate change. The third reason is the spread of diseases. It has been proven that warm weather has increased the range and number of midges, ticks, and mosquitos, which human disease, such as dengue fever and those that kill livestock and wildlife. Food has also been threatened as crop-damaging pathogens are spreading north. Also waterborne human viruses may be spread. These problems are causing animals and plants to migrate to new areas and encountered new species, which can spread existing diseases and create new pathogens. The fourth reason is the altering of ocean food webs. Warmer water temperatures, directly affect the species, and the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, increases ocean acidity. This affects the ocean’s ecosystem. For example, it harms oysters in the Northwest, which threating king crabs in Alaska, and damages sea snails – “an important link in ocean food webs.” The last reason that we must take action on climate change is population. In 2015 the global population is 7.3 billion, and it is estimated that by the end of the century there would be 11 billion people in the world. This of course, will lead to other problems such as diseases, lack of water and migration.
Craig Welch, National Geographic. Graphics by Chiqui Esteban, National Geographic. Graphics by Mónica Serrano, National Geographic. Published December 4, 2015.