Atmosphere And Weather

Global Warming and its Effect on Society



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My top ten list of things you probably didn't expect from global warming.

The first six months of 2006 have been the warmest in the United States since 1895. You have probably heard news accounts of global warming causing intense storms, flooding, droughts, heat waves, and troubles for polar bears. The addition of gigatons of carbon dioxide into our atmospheric mix is also having some effects that you might not have heard of, some weird and some frightening. So, without further ado, here's my Top Ten list of some of the most unexpected things to show up in my "Google Alerts" about global warming:

10. Acid Oceans: The ocean is becoming more acidic, which will dissolve corals and other animals that secrete hard skeletons.

9. Adapting Corals: Some bleached corals, earlier thought to be dying or dead, seem to be adapting to warmer water by hosting more heat-tolerant symbiotic algae.

8.Early Blossoms: Plants in Colorado's Rocky Mountains are responding to earlier snow melts by blossoming earlier, but their pollinators don't seem to be on the same schedule, potentially causing a problem.

7. Itchier Poison Ivy: When exposed to higher levels of CO2, poison ivy grows faster and bigger, and produces more of its rash-causing chemical, urushiol.

6. Less Rain in Antarctica: Predictions that a warmer Antarctic would increase precipitation in the region, compensating for the melting of 36 cubic miles of ice annually, don't appear to be holding up.

5. Market Bloom: In 2005, the worldwide market for carbon credits went from essentially nothing in 2004 to around $11 billion, and seems fast on its way to doubling once.

4. Happy Jellies: Jellyfish are loving our warmer, more polluted, fished-out oceans, showing up unexpectedly en masse in Europe in summer of 2005, from Scotland to Spain, bringing a nuclear power plant in Japan to a halt when they clogged the cooling water intake, filling up the seas off Namibia and South Africa, and stinging northern Atlantic beachgoers from Cape Cod to Norway.

3. Rough Roads Ahead: The Alaska Dept of Natural Resources now only allows oil and gas exploration and extraction equipment to travel across the frozen tundra 100 days per year, down from 200 30 years ago.

2. Less Wining: Grapes used in premium wines do not photosynthesize well in temperatures above 95 degrees. As much as 81 percent of "wine country" could be wineless by the end of the century, though optimists look forward to fine British wines.

And finally, the number one thing I certainly never expected to see from global warming:

1. New Tourism Opportunities: Tourists in the Swiss Alps have a new past-time-watching enormous boulders and crumbling rocks crash down the alps, as the glaciers and permafrost that held the alps together thaw and disappear.

Whether you believe that humans are a significant contributor to global climate change or not, the climate, it is a-changin'. It's time to stop arguing about where the deck chairs should go, and time to start shopping for beachfront property in Churchill, Manitoba!



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