An IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report including an update on predicted effects of global warming by geographical regions has been released in April 2007. This report does confirm the cause and effects of global warming, which have already been know for years. Further below we summarize the effects of global warming by geographical area (Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, North America, Polar regions, small islands). Source of data is the summary for policymakers of the report "Climate Change 2007" provided by IPCC (1).
The report urges mankind to start acting quickly. But even very rigorous measures to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases can only mitigate severe effects on our environment. Among the general consequences of global warming are:
- Increasing number of deaths as a consequence of heat waves, floods, droughts, tornadoes and other extreme weather conditions.
- More and larger fires in woods.
- Within a couple of decades, hundreds of millions of people will not have enough water.
- Reduction of the biological diversity on Earth: 20 to 30 percent of all species are expected to be extinguished. This will have severe consequences on the respective food chains.
- The increase of the sea level is expected to force tens of millions of people per year to move away from coastal areas within the next decades.
- Melting of glaciers: Small glaciers will disappear entirely, larger ones will shrink to about 30% of their current size.
- Change in agricultural yields will force many people (in particular for warmer countries) to migrate into other areas of the world. Hundreds of millions of people are facing starvation by the year 2080 as an effect of global warming.
- Come back of diseases like malaria into areas, where they have previously been extinguished.
Expected effects of global warming on Australia and New Zealand
- As a result of reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, water security problems are projected to intensify by 2030 in southern and eastern Australia and, in New Zealand, in Northland and some eastern regions.
- Significant loss of biodiversity is projected to occur by 2020 in some ecologically-rich sites including the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland Wet Tropics. Other sites at risk include Kakadu wetlands, south-west Australia, sub-Antarctic islands and the alpine areas of both countries.
- Ongoing coastal development and population growth in areas such as Cairns and Southeast Queensland (Australia) and Northland to Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), are projected to exacerbate risks from sea-level rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms and coastal flooding by 2050.
- Production from agriculture and forestry by 2030 is projected to decline over much of southern and eastern Australia, and over parts of eastern New Zealand, due to increased drought and fire. However, in New Zealand, initial benefits to agriculture and forestry are projected in western and southern areas and close to major rivers due to a longer growing season, less frost and increased rainfall.
- The region has substantial adaptive capacity due to well-developed economies and scientific and technical capabilities, but there are considerable constraints to implementation and major challenges from changes in extreme events. Natural systems have limited adaptive capacity.
Expected effects of global warming on North America
- Moderate climate change in the early decades of the century is projected to increase aggregate yields of rainfed agriculture by 5-20%, but with important variability among regions. Major challenges are projected for crops that are near the warm end of their suitable range or depend on highly utilised water resources.
- Warming in western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowfall, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources.
- Disturbances from pests, diseases, and fire are projected to have increasing impacts on forests, with an
extended period of high fire risk and large increases in area burned.
- Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of heat waves during the course of the century, with potential for adverse health
impacts. The growing number of the elderly population is most at risk.
- Coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly stressed by climate change impacts interacting with development and pollution. Population growth and the rising value of infrastructure in coastal areas increase vulnerability to climate variability and future climate change, with losses projected to increase if the intensity of tropical storms increases. Current adaptation is uneven and readiness for increased exposure is low.
Expected effects of global warming on Latin America
- By mid-century, increases in temperature and associated decreases in soil water are projected to lead to
gradual replacement of tropical forest by savanna in eastern Amazonia. Semi-arid vegetation will tend to be
replaced by arid-land vegetation. There is a risk of significant biodiversity loss through species extinction in
many areas of tropical Latin America.
- In drier areas, climate change is expected to lead to salinisation and desertification of agricultural land.
- Productivity of some important crops are projected to decrease and livestock productivity to decline, with
adverse consequences for food security. In temperate zones soybean yields are projected to increase.
- Sea-level rise is projected to cause increased risk of flooding in low-lying areas.
- Increases in sea surface temperature due to climate change are projected to have adverse effects on Mesoamerican coral reefs, and cause shifts in the location of south-east Pacific fish stocks.
- Changes in precipitation patterns and the disappearance of glaciers are projected to significantly affect water availability for human consumption, agriculture and energy generation.
- Some countries have made efforts to adapt, particularly through conservation of key ecosystems, early warning systems, risk management in agriculture, strategies for flood drought and coastal management, and
disease surveillance systems. However, the effectiveness of these efforts is outweighed by: lack of basic
information, observation and monitoring systems; lack of capacity building and appropriate political,
institutional and technological frameworks; low income; and settlements in vulnerable areas, among others.
Expected effects of global warming on Europe
For the first time, wide ranging impacts of changes in current climate have been documented: retreating
glaciers, longer growing seasons, shift of species ranges, and health impacts due to a heat wave of
unprecedented magnitude. The observed changes described above are consistent with those projected for
future climate change.
- Nearly all European regions are anticipated to be negatively affected by some future impacts of climate change and these will pose challenges to many economic sectors. Climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in Europe's natural resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash floods, and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to storminess and sealevel rise). The great majority of organisms and ecosystems will have difficulties adapting to climate change.
- Mountainous areas will face glacier retreat, reduced snow cover and winter tourism, and extensive species losses (in some areas up to 60% under high emission scenarios by 2080).
- In Southern Europe, climate change is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydropower potential, summer tourism, and in general, crop productivity. It is also projected to increase health risks due to heat waves and the frequency of wildfires.
- In Central and Eastern Europe, summer precipitation is projected to decrease, causing higher water stress. Health risks due to heat waves are projected to increase. Forest productivity is expected to decline and the
frequency of peatland fires to increase.
- In Northern Europe, climate change is initially projected to bring mixed effects, including some benefits such as reduced demand for heating, increased crop yields and increased forest growth. However, as climate change continues, its negative impacts (including more frequent winter floods, endangered ecosystems and increasing ground instability) are likely to outweigh its benefits.
- Adaptation to climate change is likely to benefit from experience gained in reaction to extreme climate events, by specifically implementing proactive climate change risk management adaptation plans.
Expected effects of global warming on Asia
- Glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding, rock avalanches from destabilised slopes, and affect water resources within the next two to three decades. This will be followed by decreased river flows as the glaciers recede.
- Freshwater availability in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia particularly in large river basins is projected to decrease due to climate change which, along with population growth and increasing demand arising from higher standards of living, could adversely affect more than a billion people by the 2050s.
- Coastal areas, especially heavily-populated mega-delta regions in South, East and Southeast Asia, will be at
greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and in some mega-deltas flooding from the rivers.
- Climate change is projected to impinge on sustainable development of most developing countries of Asia as it compounds the pressures on natural resources and the environment associated with rapid urbanisation,
industrialisation, and economic development.
- It is projected that crop yields could increase up to 20% in East and Southeast Asia while it could decrease up to 30% in Central and South Asia by the mid-21st century. Taken together and considering the influence of rapid population growth and urbanization, the risk of hunger is projected to remain very high in several developing countries.
- Endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise in East, South and Southeast Asia due to projected changes in hydrological cycle associated with global warming. Increases in coastal water temperature would exacerbate the abundance and/or toxicity of cholera in South Asia.
Expected effects of global warming on Africa
- By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change. If coupled with increased demand, this will adversely affect livelihoods and exacerbate water-related problems.
- Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries and regions is projected to be severely compromised by climate variability and change. The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential, particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition in the continent. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020.
- Local food supplies are projected to be negatively affected by decreasing fisheries resources in large lakes due to rising water temperatures, which may be exacerbated by continued over-fishing.
- Towards the end of the 21st century, projected sea-level rise will affect low-lying coastal areas with large populations. The cost of adaptation could amount to at least 5-10% of GDP. Mangroves and coral reefs are projected to be further degraded, with additional consequences for fisheries and tourism.
- New studies confirm that Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate variability and change because of multiple stresses and low adaptive capacity. Some adaptation to current climate variability is taking place, however, this may be insufficient for future changes in climate.
Expected effects of global warming on small Islands
- Small islands, whether located in the Tropics or higher latitudes, have characteristics which make them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, sea level rise and extreme events.
- Deterioration in coastal conditions, for example through erosion of beaches and coral bleaching, is expected to affect local resources, e.g., fisheries, and reduce the value of these destinations for tourism.
- Sea-level rise is expected to exacerbate inundation, storm surge, erosion and other coastal hazards, thus threatening vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities that support the livelihood of island communities.
- Global warming is projected by the mid-century to reduce water resources in many small islands, e.g., in the Caribbean and Pacific, to the point where they become insufficient to meet demand during low rainfall periods.
- With higher temperatures, increased invasion by non-native species is expected to occur, particularly on middle and high-latitude islands.
Expected effects of global warming on Polar Regions
- In the Polar Regions, the main projected biophysical effects are reductions in thickness and extent of glaciers and ice sheets, and changes in natural ecosystems with detrimental effects on many organisms including migratory birds, mammals and higher predators. In the Arctic, additional impacts include reductions in the extent of sea ice and permafrost, increased coastal erosion, and an increase in the depth of permafrost seasonal thawing.
- For Arctic human communities, impacts, particularly resulting from changing snow and ice conditions, are projected to be mixed. Detrimental impacts would include those on infrastructure and traditional indigenous ways of life.
- Beneficial impacts would include reduced heating costs and more navigable northern sea routes.
- In both polar regions, specific ecosystems and habitats are projected to be vulnerable, as climatic barriers to species' invasions are lowered.
- Already Arctic human communities are adapting to climate change, but both external and internal stressors challenge their adaptive capacities. Despite the resilience shown historically by Arctic indigenous communities, some traditional ways of life are being threatened and substantial investments are needed to adapt or re-locate physical structures and communities.
On this site, you can find further information about the cause and effects of global warming , statistics and graphs about emissions of carbon dioxide or current and predicted energy consumptions. You can also find some simulations of the future emissions of carbon dioxide to show how the effects of global warming could be mitigated . We further provide information about potential solutions and warn from pretended solutions like e.g. nuclear power. The true cause of global warming is our thoughtless attitude to Nature. We seem to have forgotten that we are only part of a larger whole.
The bottom line is that we all will have to reduce our energy consumption down to a level which can be supplied by renewable energies. A sustainable living is the only long-term solution.
(1) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.