Yes. Scientists regret early use of the term “global warming”, because it sounds like a good thing in cold parts of the country, and every time there’s a major blizzard, climate change deniers come out of the woodwork and use this as “evidence” global warming is a hoax.
The real danger from climate change is increased variability, not just increased temperature. Add energy to a system, and you create turbulence, turbulence in the form of more extreme storms, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and wind-driven wildfires. Climate change also compromises habitat for species that have already been reduced to a fraction of their former range, threatening mass extinctions.
Rising sea levels from the breakup of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets are a danger to coastal plains and cities, where significant numbers of people live. There’s also a significant danger that the pace of climate change could accelerate dramatically once the carbon locked up in the tundra starts decomposing and releasing CO2 and methane in greater and greater quantities.
Finally, climate change acidifies ocean water, threatening mollusks and coral reefs, which can’t form protective shells in acidic water. The rate of ocean acidification is unprecedented, and so rapid these ocean organisms will have a hard time adapting. Coral reefs are important not just for the species diversity they support, but because they dissipate the energy of waves and storms that threaten our coastal areas and cities.
The above answer is excellent, but I’m not sure “afraid” is the right word. I feel it conjures the arguments made against global warming, which often contend that the scientific community is trying to “scare us” into believing. There’s no question, as balconyfarmer describes, that much of the postulated changes associate with global warming (and climate change) are frightening. But instead of being afraid, I believe that people should become as informed as possible about global warming, and then take action appropriately.
I agree that the first answer is very good, however “afraid” is not the word I would use either. I believe that we all need to be ready to adapt to any climate change that occurs regardless of whether it was man made or “natural”. We need to take steps to be informed and make good decisions going forward in terms of our effects on the environment overall as well as being able to be prepared for those changes that we may be able to possibly alleviate some of the worst threats to ourselves and others.
Maybe not paralyzingly afraid, though it would behoove us a little i think to fear the consequences. We shouldn’t let fear cloud our judgement, but apathy and ignorance is a proven wrong approach. We stand the risk of increased natural disasters, diminished resources, and flourishing disease. We have everything to lose by ignoring global warming and everything to gain through caution.
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