From the North Pole to the South Pole, there is change in the air. The planet is warming up. Science fiction authors tell sometimes of what will happen with a warmer world—but that future isn’t so far away. Many changes are happening right now. This rising heat is melting sea ice and destroying glaciers. It’s changing the way animals live and the way our weather works. Slowly but surely, a warmer world will make its effects known. But what will that world be like?
In the near future, sea levels are expected to rise over 7 inches, and by the end of this century, with continuous melting at the poles, those levels could add between six to eight inches more to seas around the world. Freak weather will become far more common with storms, hurricanes and other catastrophes looking ever more likely. Plants will bloom earlier than the insects that pollinate them. Droughts will become far more common. Fresh water will become rarer, and disease will run rampant with the onset of mosquitoes carrying malaria.
The ecoystems of the world are going to change drastically with animals on the move. Those that can adapt, will—those that cannot adapt will die. Polar bears have already been showing signs of becoming skinnier, and it has already been said that if the sea ice disappears, the polar bear will become extinct.
These are just some of the changes we will face in the future. But we already facing changes on a day-to-day basis. Researchers have tracked the decline of the Adélie penguins on Antarctica, where their numbers have fallen from 32,000 breeding pairs to 11,000 in 30 years. Some butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have moved farther north or to higher, cooler areas. Spruce bark beetles have boomed in Alaska thanks to 20 years of warm summers. The insects have chewed up 4 million acres of spruce trees.
So it isn’t just science fiction authors who have ideas about a warmer future. It’s today, tomorrow and every day until the end of Earth’s life.