The Environment And Its Current And Projected Aspects

With the growing scientific and public awareness regarding the ongoing global warming, predicting the future of the global environmental conditions is considered mainly through climate change. There are undoubtedly other aspects such as air and water pollution, habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, a drain of natural resources, and biodiversity loss (Marengo et al.; Trisos, Merow & Pigot). However, most of these aspects can be studied through the lens of global warming since its effects are ubiquitous and all-encompassing. This essay will compare some of the current and projected aspects of the environment, considering several potential scenarios. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC refers to these as emission scenarios, which drive model projections of changes in the climate system. These projections account for solar activity and volcanoes’ background forcing (IPCC). Comparing current and future global surface temperatures, circulation patterns, weather phenomena, ecological communities’ composition and distribution, and crop harvests shows the debilitating impact of global warming on the future environment.

Before assessing specific environmental changes, it is vital to compare the current and future greenhouse gas emissions effects. Currently, anthropogenic activities already threaten the environmental situation, but increasing global warming will exacerbate these threats in the future (IPCC; Trisos et al.). According to IPCC, global surface temperatures will continue increasing until at least the mid-century in every scenario. Unless nations drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures in 100 years will be over two degrees warmer than currently (IPCC). The changes resulting from the increase include the increasing frequency of extreme temperatures, ocean warming, droughts, more intense tropical cyclones, and ice cover reduction (IPCC). Moreover, 100 years from now, the water cycle will be profoundly disrupted, including aspects like variability, precipitation, and the severity of catastrophic weather events (IPCC). Carbon sinks in the ocean and on land currently absorb CO2 from the atmosphere; however, under increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, they will be less effective (IPCC). Some changes caused by the past and future emissions are to some extent reversible now but will not be in the XXII century.

However, global cycles disruption will result in environmental changes much sooner than 100 years. The present environment has extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, or typhoons; a century later, their frequency and severity will increase (IPCC). For instance, Bachmeister et al. predict a global tropical cyclone activity reduction in 100 years. However, the frequency of intense tropical cyclones is expected to increase in the future compared to the current state (Bacmeister et al.). The enhanced extreme weather will substantially affect food security, with agricultural production most likely to suffer (Leng & Hall). There are currently 53 countries with a serious or alarming hunger index, out of which 27 are already experiencing a decline in consumable food calories due to climate change (Ray et al.). Presently, an average 1% reduction in calories was found, varying by continent and crop (Ray et al.). In 100 years, Ray et al. project a much more drastic decline in crop yields due to the future climate conditions. Therefore, the number of countries that experience sub-optimal crop yields and resulting food insecurity is expected to increase 100 years from now.

Observations from around the globe indicate that current climate change is already driving substantial fluctuations in biodiversity. Presently, some regions such as the Amazon play a vital role in regulating global atmospheric circulation and contributing to the water, energy, and carbon cycles (Marengo et al.). However, in 100 years, the increasing likelihood of multi-year droughts brought by deforestation and warming temperatures may push the Amazon beyond the recovery point (Marengo et al.). Trisos et al. predict that future disturbance of ecological communities due to climate change will be abrupt. Shifts in species’ distribution ranges are expected to change current habitat availability (Hermes et al.). Currently, not all taxonomic groups are severely affected; however, in less than 100 years, omnipresent declines could commence rapidly in the tropical oceans and spread to tropical forests and higher latitudes (Trisos et al.). For some species, such change will entail extinction; however, the distribution of pathogens like mosquito-borne dengue may rise, affecting twice as many people as now in the XXII century (Messina et al.). Overall, future habitat changes paint a very different picture for biodiversity and human health 100 years later.

To conclude, the state of the environment will differ drastically 100 years from now. The majority of widely considered impacts are attributed to anthropogenically-driven climate change. Global warming effects are already evident through such indicators as global biodiversity changes, reducing crop yields, and increasing temperatures. However, in a century, the adverse impacts will be more widespread and severe, including disruption of water and air cycles, worsened catastrophic weather events, a decline in food security worldwide, and more. Loss and fragmentation of habitat could drive abrupt drops in global biodiversity 100 years from now. Simultaneously, climate change would allow for the wider spread of pathogens such as dengue in the XXII century. Overall, the current state of the environment is concerning, but the hundred-year future will be considerably worse unless urgent action is taken.

Works Cited

Bacmeister, Julio T., et al. “Projected Changes in Tropical Cyclone Activity under Future Warming Scenarios Using a High-Resolution Climate Model.” Climatic Change, vol. 146, no. 3–4, 2018, pp. 547–60. ProQuest, Web.

Hermes, Claudia, et al. “Projected Impacts of Climate Change on Habitat Availability for an Endangered Parakeet.” PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 1, 2018, p. e0191773. PubMed Central, Web.

Leng, Guoyong, and Jim Hall. “Crop Yield Sensitivity of Global Major Agricultural Countries to Droughts and the Projected Changes in the Future.Science of The Total Environment, vol. 654, 2019, pp. 811–21. ScienceDirect, Web.

Marengo, Jose A., et al. “Changes in Climate and Land Use Over the Amazon Region: Current and Future Variability and Trends.Frontiers in Earth Science, vol. 6, 2018. Frontiers, Web.

Masson-Delmotte, Valérie, et al., editors. “Summary for Policymakers.” Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 6th ed., Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Messina, Jane P., et al. “The Current and Future Global Distribution and Population at Risk of Dengue.” Nature Microbiology, vol. 4, no. 9, 9, 2019, pp. 1508–15., Web.

Ray, Deepak K., et al. “Climate Change Has Likely Already Affected Global Food Production.PLOS ONE, vol. 14, no. 5, 2019, p. e0217148. PLoS Journals, Web.

Trisos, Christopher H., et al. “The Projected Timing of Abrupt Ecological Disruption from Climate Change.Nature, vol. 580, no. 7804, 7804, 2020, pp. 496–501., Web.