As new discoveries are made, technology advances, and populations grow and move. The world is increasingly affected by globalization, consumption, and waste production—especially by the developed countries (such as the United States)—and the effects are felt worldwide. Unsustainable practices and uses of natural resources through activities such as deforestation, degradation of water sources, greenhouse gas emissions, mismanagement of rangeland and invasive species, and environmentally unfriendly agricultural practices affect the environment and human health on a global basis. The activities of these developed countries also have negative effects on the developing countries through sea-level rise, drought, flooding, severe weather, and altered rainfall regimes and climate patterns.
Because individuals' decisions on whether or not to be environmentally responsible in the magnitude of the "carbon footprint" they create as it contributes to the global effect, it is important to understand how global warming is affecting different regions around the world—it is important to understand the global scale of this problem. This chapter provides an overview of the effect global warming is having around the world today as well as what is expected in the future.
As reported in the New York Times on June 11, 2008, an organized group of industrialized countries (the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia) called the "Academies of the Group of 8 Industrialized Countries," as well as Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa, issued a statement on June 10, 2008, calling on the industrialized countries of the world to lead a "transition to a low-carbon society" and to aggressively move to limit impacts from changes in climate that are already under way and impossible to stop.
The statement was officially posted by the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, which also urged the "Group of 8" to halve global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 and "take maximum efforts" to obtain that goal. Possible solutions to achieving the goal would be as follows:
• adopting new energy technologies;
• changing human behavior and the demand for energy;
• investing in renewable energy research;
• continuing research on carbon sequestration;
• conducting large-scale reforestation;
• exploring "artificial geo-engineering" to stabilize the climate.
Each region worldwide will have to confront the multitude of serious effects from global warming and climate change.
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