12 Strange And Unexpected Side Effects Of Climate Change

Will penguins take more selfies in warmer weather? Natalia Khalaman/Shutterstock

Robin Andrews 22 Apr 2017, 17:57

Climate change is a catalyst of chaos – sea levels are rising, ice caps are being destroyed, and more powerful natural disasters are on the prowl. Chances are, though, that you aren’t aware of plenty of things that this man-made phenomenon is going to exacerbate.

Let’s take a brief sojourn into the very near future to see what wackiness a warming world will deliver.

1 – You’ll get sick more, and maybe get diabetes

A recent survey showed that less than a quarter of the Americans that accept the science of climate change acknowledge that it’ll also make illnesses worse. Unfortunately, study after study has shown that if the environment is warmer, diseases will prosper.

Mosquitos carrying viruses will reach higher latitudes, contaminated water will become more common, those with pre-existing conditions will have a more strained immune system, air pollution will linger for longer, and those with allergies will suffer earlier and for lengthier periods of time.

People in warmer environments are also biologically unable to dispense of their blood sugar efficiently. So, for each degree of warming, an extra 100,000 Americans per year will get type 2 diabetes.

2 – Siberia’s going to turn into a gigantic, flammable trampoline

Boing, boing, boom. BBCExplore via YouTube

The frozen soil across much of the Siberian Arctic is full of microbes that, under warm and low-oxygen conditions, love producing methane by breaking down all the organic matter trapped there. As that part of the world is warming twice as fast as anywhere else, decompositions rates are kicking up a gear, and plenty of that methane – along with a fair amount of carbon dioxide – is escaping into the atmosphere.

A lot of it’s getting temporarily trapped in underground pockets of wet earth, though. This means that, at present, there are approximately 7,000 sites around Siberia where the soil is legitimately bouncy and, if you have a lighter and a death wish, exceedingly explosive.

3 – The North Pole will end up in Europe

Just to be clear, this refers to the geographic North Pole, not the magnetic one. (That one’ll be just fine.)

As you probably know, the world is spinning on a rotational axis, which goes from the top end of the planet to its bottom. However, thanks to humanity warming the world so quickly, a lot of ice is melting and, consequently, a lot of new water is moving around the world quite quickly.

This has upset the mass balance of Earth, and the planet is adjusting by changing the angle of its rotational axis. This means that the North Pole has been migrating eastwards towards continental Europe at an annual rate of about 10 centimeters (4 inches) since 2000, and eventually, it’ll end up in Paris.

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