Home > How the Earth Works > The Earth as a Greenhouse (3) What Will Happen If the Earth Keeps Getting Warmer?

How the Earth Works

The Earth as a Greenhouse

(3) What Will Happen If the Earth Keeps Getting Warmer?

Global warming creates many problems, and not just that the air gets too hot. In fact, we are already experiencing some of these problems right now.

One problem is that global warming results in more typhoons, hurricanes, and storms. Do you know how water circulates? It falls down from the clouds as rain, then it flows into rivers and oceans, then it evaporates into the sky, and finally it falls down as rain again. The amount of water that evaporates from the oceans increases when temperatures rise.

The coast of Tuvalu. If sea level rises more, the whole country may sink into the sea.

Photo by mrlins. Some rights reserved.

If all of the ice in the Arctic Ocean should melt down, polar bears may have nowhere to go.

Photo by Gerard Van der Leun. Some rights reserved.

When it rains more, it floods more often. As everyone knows, hurricanes and floods can cause tremendous damage. Houses get blown or swept away, roads and bridges are destroyed, and many people die.

Also, as temperatures rise, ice melts. Indeed, the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps have been melting away in recent years. Polar bears in the Arctic and emperor penguins in Antarctica are in trouble. If they could talk, they'd be saying, "Help us! Our home is getting smaller and smaller and our food supply is getting smaller too."

When Antarctica and Greenland and glaciers around the world melt, more water will flow into the seas, making sea levels rise. If global warming continues at its current rate, sea levels will rise by about 20 to 60 centimeters. This means that places with a low elevation, like the island nation of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, will probably sink into the sea.

As the Earth's climate continues to change, the types of trees, grass, animals, and other organisms near you will also change. Farming, too, will face major problems. What will happen to our food?

Global warming will cause (and in fact, is already causing) a variety of problems. Think twice the next time someone tells you, "It just means we'll feel a little hotter."