Pollutants are clogging up the atmosphere above our planet and trapping the sun's heat. That makes our planet warmer, which causes glaciers to melt, crazy weather patterns to develop, and natural disasters like wildfires.
But there are other consequences that people don't always associate with climate change. Here are six surprising facts about global warming.
It makes people more aggressive
As the world gets hotter, tempers also get more fiery. A new study
found that violent crimes and even war become more likely as temperatures rise. Heart rates tend to be elevated in warm weather, so people are prepped for a physical response to a situation. That's not to say we're headed for a violent end as Earth warms up, though. Advances in everything from technology to health have sparked a decline in conflict. It's just that global warming might be slowing that decline.
It makes asthma worse
Climate change increases the amount of smog in the air and causes plants to produce more pollen, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council
. Those combine to make breathing harder for people, which can be especially tricky for people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
More kids have asthma now than in previous generations and that's no surprise. The air is a lot worse. And The White House has used this fact to personalize the issue (i.e. you should care about climate change and live a more green lifestyle because it's actually harming children
It could sink cities
Global warming raises sea levels, and that could threaten cities in a number of states. Sea levels have risen about seven inches in the last 100 years, which is more than in the previous 2,000 years combined, according to Do Something
, a nonprofit aimed at empowering young people. And they could rise
another 19 inches by 2050. That means cities like New Orleans and Miami could start to look like Venice. Rising water levels can also put fragile coral reefs in danger. Coral relies on sunlight, which could become scarce as water levels rise.
It makes mountains taller
Mountain ranges are growing as a result of global warming. That's because the glaciers that have literally been weighing them down and pushing them into Earth for centuries are melting, according to LiveScience
. That has allowed the planet's surface to "spring back" and the mountains to rise.
Space satellites move faster
Global warming has made the atmosphere less dense. That means there's less drag and things like satellites can go faster. LiveScience
explains that global warming leads to more carbon dioxide in the air. While carbon dioxide molecules in the lower atmosphere release heat when they collide, molecules in the upper atmosphere collide less frequently and actually cool the air around them. With more carbon dioxide, more cooling occurs, which causes air to settle. That means the atmosphere is less dense and there's less drag.
It will last for centuries
Humans are producing far more carbon dioxide than plants and oceans can absorb. Limiting that production would certainly help, but the gases stay in the atmosphere for years. That means that even if emissions were eliminated entirely today, global warming would continue as a result of all the built-up carbon dioxide. That could cause temperatures and sea levels to rise for at least a century
after the emissions stop.