Global Warming: What Are The Effects and What Can We Do?

by Rebecca Spevack on February 18, 2014

Photo by Steen Ulrik Johannessen

Photo by Steen Ulrik Johannessen

The cold weather lately probably does not make you overly concerned about global warming, however it is “the single biggest environmental and humanitarian crisis of our time,” (NRDC).  Many people believe that global warming affects temperature and nothing more, however its potential effects are extremely far-reaching and drastic, impacting things such as rainfall patterns and crop yield (Nadakavukaren, 2011, pp. 299-302).  Global warming has the potential to cause an average rise in precipitation, but it is not evenly distributed (Nadakayukaren, 2011, 299).  Places with a lot of precipitation will have an increase in rainfall resulting in flooding, and places with a low amount of precipitation will have a decrease in rainfall resulting in water shortages (Nadakavukaren, 2011, p. 299).  This change in rainfall will have severe repercussions, especially in developing countries that are less able to adapt.  Another potential effect of global warming is an increase in extreme weather events, including extreme warm temperatures and tropical storms.  Extreme heat not only causes discomfort, it also means high energy costs for air conditioning, and increases in mortality.  An increase in the number and severity of tropical storms is also a problem, and could have devastating effects on populations that live near the coast (Nadakavukaren, 2011, p. 300).

Another potential impact of global warming is rising sea levels, which could have extreme effects on populations living near the coast and on island populations.  Some scientists believe that the sea level could rise up to 39 feet, which would cause flooding in poor areas such as Bangladesh.  Diminishing crop yields is also a potential impact of global warming, but like a change in rainfall, it is not evenly distributed.  In the United States, it is projected that the northern region will have an extended growing season leading to prosperity of crops, but the southern region will experience diminished crops.  It is also projected that livestock production will diminish due to rising temperatures, which could impact global food supply.  A final potential impact of global warming is on human illness.  The high temperatures have effects on morbidity and mortality, and also on the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria.  These diseases are usually seen in tropical regions, and can have detrimental effects when they are introduced to different areas (Nadakavukaren, 2011, pp. 301-304).

These impacts have the potential to cause devastating effects to the population and the earth.  Many people have taken initiative to mitigate these effects; the National Resources Defense Council discusses five solutions for combatting global warming.  The first solution is to set limits on global warming pollution.  Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA established emission and fuel economy standards for cars; this act should cut fuel use and emissions from new cars in half by 2026.  The second solution is to invest in green jobs and clean energy, which would not only create sustainable jobs for millions of Americans, but also not increase the federal debt.  The third solution is to drive smarter cars, such as hybrids or plug-in hybrids, which would use less oil and save people money.  The fourth solution is to create green homes and building.  New and existing homes can be modified to save energy, which would save people money and reduce emissions.  The fifth solution is to build walkable communities near public transportation, which would reduce the amount of driving that people had to do for their commute (NRDC).  The potential impacts of global warming seem incredibly daunting, but by becoming educated about the topic and implementing solutions, we can mitigate these disastrous effects.


Works Cited

Global warming solutions. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Johannessen, S. U. (Photographer). (2014). Global Warming and Climate Change [Web

Photo]. Retrieved from

Nadakavukaren, A. (2011). Our global environment: A health perspective. (7th ed.).

Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc.


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