Why should CO2 be reduced?
The main argument for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is that excessive human-produced (anthropogenic) CO2 could be gradually increasing the Earth’s greenhouse effect. While about half of this anthropogenic CO2 can be reabsorbed by vegetation or dissolved in the oceans, with the potential to impact marine plants and animals through acidification, the other half that accumulates in the atmosphere could lead to changes in global temperature. Some scientists have predicted potential consequences associated with these changes, such as the melting of the polar ice caps and more frequent, intense weather events.
The melting of polar ice caps and glaciers could have a number of impacts across the globe:
Melting of the polar ice caps is one possible
of potential climate change.
- Sea-level rise could put coastlines around the globe at risk of being inundated. Sea level rise could cause a large disruption of large populations on coastlines in locations around the globe.
- The ice caps are made of freshwater and adding an increased concentration of freshwater to the salt water in the oceans would dilute them. This is called ocean desalination. Desalinating the oceans could affect ocean currents, which regulate global temperatures. North-East America, as well as Western Europe could be impacted by cooler temperatures.
- Temperature increases in the Arctic Circle could create ever-changing environments for several indigenous species, putting them at risk of extinction.
- Ice caps are white and reflect sunlight back into space. Losing this large, reflective area on the Earth’s surface could cause global temperatures to change.
Other potential consequences associated with global climate change could include more devastating hurricanes and the spread of disease. Although some areas will receive more precipitation than normal, temperature increases may result in lengthened and more intense droughts in areas like sub-Saharan Africa.