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Many believe that human activities are a major cause of global warming, which may have catastrophic consequences for the climate and the environment. For example, large-scale melting of land-based ice and the expansion of the oceans as water warms could cause sea levels to rise drastically. Low-lying islands such as Tuvalu could disappear, as could large parts of the Netherlands and Florida, to name just two other areas. Millions of people could be displaced from such places as Shanghai and Calcutta, as well as parts of Bangladesh.

Even here in Lagos the situation is very terrible that atimes I wonder if people notice what is going on. The heat is fierce that I dont put on cream again because if I do I will regret it.

At the same time, rising temperatures could intensify storms, floods, and droughts. In the Himalayas, disappearing glaciers—from areas that feed seven river systems—could cause shortages of freshwater for 40 percent of the world’s population. Also at risk are thousands of species of animals, including polar bears, whose hunting grounds are largely on the ice. Indeed, reports already indicate that many bears are losing weight and some are even starving.

Rising temperatures may also foster the spread of disease by enabling mosquitoes, ticks, and other disease-carrying organisms, including fungi, to spread farther afield. “The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons,” says the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “The effects may be less dramatic in the short term . . . , but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause irremediable harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival.” Adding an even more ominous note, some scientists believe that changes attributed to global warming are occurring faster than they had expected.

What are we to make of these predictions? Is life on earth really at a crossroads? Skeptics of global warming say that such dire predictions are groundless. Others are not sure. So, what is the truth? Is earth’s future—and ours—in peril?

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