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Environmental Effects of Global Warming

Environmental Effects of Global Warming

In order to talk about global warming, we must first learn what causes the greenhouse effect. A lot of the rays from the sun are absorbed by water vapor that is naturally in our atmosphere. Water vapor accounts for "80 percent of natural greenhouse warming. The remaining 20 percent is due to other gasses that are present in very small amounts1". Carbon dioxide is also a big absorber of the sun's heat rays.

Global warming will not just make sea levels rise, it will also affect sea life. Corals "are intolerant of temperatures just a few degrees warmer than usual7". Small increases in the temperature can kill corals. There have been problems with corals dying in the past few years because of increased water temperatures. Other marine life may migrate northward or southward because the waters are warmer. The warm water would make them think that they were in their natural habitat, when they were actually migrating toward the poles. Food would be scarce in their new habitat.

Patterns of the circulation of sea water are disturbed by global warming. Cold water moves along the sea floor towards the equator and warm water around the equator moves toward the poles across the surface of the ocean. It is known as thermohaline circulation. It is a very important process concerning ocean life. This circulation process brings oxygenated water to the sea floor. If this did not happen, "water along the sea floor would become depleted of the oxygen organisms need to survive8".

Fish, such as salmon, are also sensitive to the temperature of the water. During the summer when the water is warm, salmon have a higher metabolic rate. During the winter months, their metabolism slows down, which is good because less food is available. With global warming and increased water temperatures, salmon would have a higher metabolic rate, even if it were during the winter. Less food would be available for them and many salmon would die.

Another impact of global warming will be that some diseases are likely to be spread more easily. Mosquitoes are a major carrier of tropical diseases. Malaria outbreaks are usually confined to "where the minimum winter temperature reaches no lower than 16 [degrees Celsius]," according to the World...

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