June 28, 2009

Energy and climate change

Human consume energy by burning organic sources (oil, coal, gas, biomass) and other human activities have changed the chemical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, which in turn will influence the behavior of global climate patterns such as:
  • Wetter winters and drier summers with longer, hotter and more frequent heat waves.
  • Weather and climate changes that could require farmers to raise different crops.
  • Dairy cattle with heat exhaustion and growing pest populations.
  • Poor air quality and higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, an air pollutant that causes severe health problems.
  • Warmer and more shallow river waters – conditions that could hurt populations of cold-water fish like trout.
  • Dropping lake water levels (even on the Great Lakes), stranding docks and marinas, and greatly increasing dredging maintenance costs for harbors.
  • Dropping water tables in underground aquifers, due to increased water demands and reduced surface recharge.
  • Denser algae blooms and lower oxygen levels in ponds and lakes.
  • More frequent floods, droughts, forest fires and damaging storms.
  • Changes in tree species that could damage the forestry industry and wildlife populations.
  • Increases in disease-carrying insect populations.
Overall, the atmosphere and the world’s oceans are warming, leading to major changes in air circulation and ocean currents. Some countries may experience warming, while others may see cooling. Drought may descend on wet areas, while dry regions become unnaturally wet. Storm patterns may change drastically in some areas, resulting in catastrophic hurricanes, monsoons, tornados, floods and blizzards. As the ocean warms, the water expands and raises sea levels, which will submerge low-lying coastal areas and islands, affecting millions of people. Scientists don’t agree on how quickly the atmosphere is warming or on all the consequences, but it is safe to say that we’re in the midst of a dangerous and costly experiment in weather modification.

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