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Melting Glaciers, Changing Ecosystems – The Consequences of Global Warming

Updated on June 16, 2011

Define Global Warming

Define global warming.

This isn’t a statement, or a question – this is, rather, an order. Define global warming.

Can you?

I’m sure you know the facts, the statistics of this now fully engrained term; I’m sure you know some of the causes of global warming, the warning signs, and perhaps even a few consequences. But can really – can you truly – define global warming.

You can’t.

The next question: why not?

The answer is because global warming, albeit it can now be found in a dictionary, and quick search on Google will give you a quick answer, is because global warming is an action caused by nature. And nature, although we’ve been trying for hundreds of years, is something we can’t define. Sure we can name organisms, mammals, animals; we can study plants, trophic levels, and ecosystems; understand food chains and atmospheric systems; but nature is dynamic always changing, a balancing act that either is balanced or not.

The only way to define such a thing that seems to be always moving, wavering in and out of place, is to surround it – you have to corner it and make sure it has no out. The way to do that with knowledge? Figure out its surroundings by asking questions.


What’s the meaning of global warming?

How do we stop global warming?

Can we stop global warming?

Is global warming real?

What are the effects of global warming?

The list of questions goes on and on and that can be a good thing or bad thing – whatever way you want to look at it.


Global Warming Statistics

  • Two of the hottest years on record have occurred recently, one in 1998 and one in 2005
  • There has been a dramatic increase in the intensities of storms, most notably hurricanes and tornadoes. This is a direct cause of climate change; the balance of nature is becoming unstable and thus the unstable weather.
  • In the last 100 years the average temperature on earth has risen approximately 0.7 degrees Celsius.
  • The largest contributor to greenhouse gases, one of the main reasons of global warming, is the United States (25%)
  • Temperatures will continue to rise even if emissions stop right now – damage has already been done.
  • Ocean currents are moving farther south, effecting colder regions the most.
  • The most dramatic cause of global warming may be the increase in ocean levels; this could threaten many coastal cities.

Reasons for Global Warming

Let’s first look at global warming in its simplest form:

Global warming is the slow increase of temperature worldwide (A study in 2007 saw that in the 20th century temperatures rose approximately 0.74 degrees Celsius on average). The causes for global warming are mainly due to human activity. We have a constant need for fuel and energy and we attain that fuel from mostly resources that are not renewable, such as coal and other fossil fuels. These fossil fuels, when converted into energy, create an abundance of carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere; as more of this carbon dioxide becomes present it acts like a glass in a greenhouse. Heat can get into the planet (like the rays of the sun entering a greenhouse) but are unable to escape and thus the area heats up.

Global warming, although much more scientifically advanced then stated above, is like the greenhouse effect. One could say that the meaning of global warming is the heating of the globe via the burning of our resources.

The reasons for global warming go beyond just the creation of carbon dioxide; anything, such as water vapour, that becomes in excess in the atmosphere creates unnecessary shielding.


The biggest consequence of global warming is the melting of ice.
The biggest consequence of global warming is the melting of ice. | Source
The ice sheets in the north and south are full of mysteries; explorers search like they are finding a new land.
The ice sheets in the north and south are full of mysteries; explorers search like they are finding a new land. | Source

Consequences of Global Warming

Global warming, to some, is a hoax. Numbers created by overzealous scientists; a fear tactic to bring society together in amidst certain adversary.

Time to ask the obvious question: does global warming exist?

You know the global warming statistics; you know what defines global warming by looking at the fundamental causes. But do you know the consequences?

To answer that question all you have to do is look to the ice. By that I don’t mean the ice you have at home in put in your drinks; no I mean the real ice, the big, powerful ice that took down the Titanic. The ice that makes glaciers and fuels are basin’s of clean drinking water; the ice that spans miles, fields continents; the ice, which some may say, rules nature itself.

The effects of global warming in Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic are the most profound and are by far the biggest effects of global warming on humans. Do you want to know what is happening to the ice? Because if you do the answer won’t just answer the one question, but will answer a multitude of them.

The answer: the ice in Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic is melting.

I’ll say it again. The ice is melting.

Ice which has been frozen for millions of years, which has moved at a snail’s pace towards the oceans, is suddenly melting and is suddenly moving. If the true or false of global warming is based of logic, then consider this scenario:

Ice sheets and ice shelves have remained untouched for thousands of years. They barley change in their composition from year to year and the speed at which they move is so small it barely registers. Then all of a sudden the term global warming is created and climate change is discussed everywhere. The basis of this new theory is that we are heating up the Earth and the consequences of this could one day be drastic – but, some naysayers tell you, won’t happen for thousands of years. Then one day the ice, which hadn’t been melting, and was moving so slowly, suddenly began to melt. People didn't notice it at first. Then suddenly an ice shelf disappeared; then another. The ice sheets were moving much faster.

Ever heard of Occam's razor? It’s a scientific theory that states: “All things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the right one.”


More Global Warming Statistics

  • Billions of gallons of water have already been melted in Antarctica and the arctic due to global warming.
  • Temperatures are not just rising. Ocean currents are changing as well. The intricitcs of the atmosphere and the ocean are unknown – warm currents are suddenly moving farther north, melting ice.
  • When an ice shelf melts it greatly effects the ice sheet that lay behind it. The ice sheet will move towards the ocean at a much faster speed.
  • An ice sheet, like the one in Pine Island Glacier, can cause ocean levels to rise a few inches.

Once ice breaks off into the ocean it's as good as gone.
Once ice breaks off into the ocean it's as good as gone. | Source

The Skeptical Environmentalist

Bjørn Lomborg is the author of the skeptical environmentalist and focuses on the severity of the global warming.

The truth is that it's not something we should panic about, although it is something we should concern ourselves with.

It's a good book that should be an even better movie.  The movie will be called 'Cool It'. 

Take Action Against Global Wariming

Effects of Global Warming in Antarctica

It’s in my opinion that the most important thing to know right now about global warming are the consequences that are taking place right now. The consequences of the future are easy to dismiss; its easy for anyone to think, ‘we’ll fix the problem by then so that will never happen.’ It’s an easy thought to push aside, to rationalize yourself away. It’s a different story, however, when the consequences are right in front of you. It makes you cringe, gives you a feeling of regret; it’s a feeling like losing something and knowing you’ll never get it back.

The consequences of global warming in Antarctica are the most severe and the most present – they are happening now and they will be happening tomorrow.

What’s happening is this:

Antarctica is home to the most ice on the entire planet; its ice sheet covers an entire continent. For millions of years that ice has remained unmoved and frozen. It rests on the continent that is surrounded by the sea and there is always the fear that one day that ice will into the ocean. Luckily the ice is protected by what is called an ice shelf. An ice shelf is a wall of ice which lies between an ice sheet and an ocean. It slowly moves toward the ocean but at speeds which are barely measurable; it a shield of sorts, protecting the ice sheet from moving into the ocean.

Recently scientists have noticed some changes in both the ice sheets and the ice shelves. Pools of water have started to form on top of the ice,a direct result from global warming – which has caused temperatures to rise in dozens of regions in both the Arctic and Antarctica.

The speed of both the ice shelves and the ice sheets has increased significantly, some ice moving at speeds ten times the norm.

The grand ice sheets of the north and south have always been somewhat of a mystery to scientists of the world. Their castle like structures, labyrinth-like insides are nearly impossible to penetrate. There have been some advances recently: satellite imagery has allowed us to view the ice year by year and study change, and drilling technology has allowed us a glimpse at the interior. But the ice has always carried so many unknowns.

The greatest unknown – and the one that may be the biggest consequence of climate change – is what would happen to an ice sheet if the ice shelf suddenly disappeared. With the rise in temperatures, as well as the rise in ocean temperatures around the ice, there was concern that maybe an ice shelf could melt into the ocean; since they were, in fact, weak and fragile compared to ice sheets it was possible.

Then, one day, it happened. A relatively big ice shelf in Antartica broke out into the ocean and began to disappear; suddenly a great big ice sheet that had been protected for years was suddenly vulnerable.

There were two theories of what would happen next:

  1. .Nothing would change. The ice sheet was on rock and therefore would move at the same speed it always did towards the ocean.
  2. The ice shelf was like a cork, preventing the water – or ice in his case – from rushing forward.

The answer, as it seems all the answers towards global warming in Antarctica, came fast. The ice sheet instantly starting moving a lot faster.


An Ice Shelf is what prevents an ice sheet from falling into the ocean.
An Ice Shelf is what prevents an ice sheet from falling into the ocean. | Source
Melting of the ice caps (ice sheets) is the greatest consequence of global warming.
Melting of the ice caps (ice sheets) is the greatest consequence of global warming. | Source

Can We Stop Global Warming?

Time to answer the questions we asked earlier.

What’s the meaning of global warming?

The meaning of global warming is the unruly rise in temperature worldwide. The ten hottest years on record have occurred in the last fifteen years; if that’s not a warning sign then i don’t know what is.

How do we stop global warming?

Reduce emissions of any gases that can harm the atmosphere. One of the biggest producers of this harmful gas are vehicles. The burning of the oil creates an abundance of carbon dioxide which is one of the main culprits of what is known as the greenhouse effect.

Is global warming real?

Proof is in the ice – or the lack of. Billions of gallons of ice have already melted into the ocean, something we will never be able to recover. The damage and consequences have already occurred and this, I believe, is the most important information on global warming to know of. One can dismiss the future as something that hasn’t happened yet or something in which can be prevented. But the past, our history? The melting of ice in Antarctica and the Arctic are the most definite answer that global warming does exist.

What are the effects of global warming?


Rising temperatures worldwide, climate change resulting in more natural disasters, the melting of the ice shelves which in turn cause the increase in speed of giant ice sheets.

Now the biggest – and most important – question:

Can we stop global warming?

As of now we can’t. The amount of damage we have already done to the atmosphere and the lack of change we have already implemented, as well as the multiude of ice that has already melted, are irreversible. The landscape of Earth has already changed and the major consequences are yet to be seen – if there is any. The point is that although there have already been consequences of global warming they have yet to far reaching. This means, I hope, that we still have a chance. We have to act quickly, though. The balance has already reached the end on one side already.

It’s only a matter of time until nature tries to balance itself right again.


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    • PoliticsNOW profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      She is also from the south and a republican Judith Curry the author of that article. There is NO way you can tell me over six billion people buring MILLIONS of tons fossil fuels is not having an effect on the environment. In my area we had a 50 year flood, 100 year flood, 250 year flood and a 500 year flood in the PAST 3 YEARS! Stop listening to the people who are making BANK denying climate change. By the way more snow is because of more water in the atmosphere. HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TEMP! FishFearMe. Just so you know.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It looks like there's another side to the story. But I guess that would be an inconvenient truth, to coin a phrase. Why am I surprised that Global Warming alarmists never admit to or show the argument counter to their own hysteria? Oh, yeah. the other side just may be right, which in my opinion, it is.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congratulations Vanchen on 100 Hubs. Excellent Hub on Global warming. Looking forward to the next 100


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