A Simple Guide to Climate Change

What is the impact of climate change?

Extreme weather events are already more intense, threatening lives and livelihoods.

With further warming, some regions could become uninhabitable, as farmland turns into desert. In other regions, the opposite is happening, with extreme rainfall causing historic flooding – as seen recently in China, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

People in poorer countries will suffer the most as they do not have the money to adapt to climate change. Many farms in developing countries already have to endure climates that are too hot and this will only get worse.

Our oceans and its habitats are also under threat. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, for example, has already lost half of its corals since 1995 due to warmer seas driven by climate change.

Wildfires are becoming more frequent as climate change increases the risk of hot, dry weather.

And as frozen ground melts in places like Siberia, greenhouse gases trapped for centuries will be released into the atmosphere, worsening climate change.

In a warmer world, animals will find it harder to find the food and water they need to live. For example, polar bears could die out as the ice they rely on melts away, and elephants will struggle to find the 150-300 litres of water a day they need.

Scientists believe at least 550 species could be lost this century if action is not taken.

How will different parts of the world be affected?

Climate change has different effects in different areas of the world. Some places will warm more than others, some will receive more rainfall and others will face more droughts.

If temperature rise cannot be kept within 1.5C:

  • The UK and Europe will be vulnerable to flooding caused by extreme rainfall
  • Countries in the Middle East will experience extreme heatwaves and farmland could turn to desert
  • Island nations in the Pacific region could disappear under rising seas
  • Many African nations are likely to suffer droughts and food shortages
  • Drought conditions are likely in the western US, while other areas will see more intense storms
  • Australia is likely to suffer extremes of heat and drought

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