Just as colonialism determined much of Asia’s past, adapting to profound disruptions from climate change will determine the region’s future, said Rajendra Kuma Pachauri, a co-chairman of the climate panel who has spent the past 26 years working on the issue.
“We have no choice but to start mitigating for climate change today,” he said.
#1 A Bumpier Ride?
Researchers in Britain have found that climate change could cause increased turbulence for transatlantic flights by between 10 and 40 percent by 2050.
#2 Not A Drop To Drink
A 2012 study from the U.S. Forest Service found that without “major adaptation efforts,” parts of the U.S. are likely to see “substantial future water shortages.” Climate change, especially for the Southwest U.S., can both increase water demand and decrease water supply.
#3 An International Tragedy
Research by British government found that climate change may have contributed to a famine in East Africa that killed between 50,000 and 100,000 people in 2010 and 2011. At least 24 percent of the cause of a lack of major rains in 2011 can be attributed to man-made greenhouse gases, Met Office modeling showed.
#4 A Mighty Wind
The dramatic and rapid loss of sea ice in recent years has consequences beyond the Arctic. Scientists have found the melting shifts the position of the Jet Stream, bringing cold Arctic air further south and increasing the odds of intense snow storms and extreme spring weather.
#5 An Itch You Can’t Scratch
Research indicates that increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide result in larger poison ivy plants. Even worse, climate change will mean that the plant’s irritating oil will also get more potent.
#6 Worsening Allergies
The spring 2013 allergy season could be one of the worst ever, thanks to climate change. Experts say that increased precipitation, along with an early spring, late-ending fall and higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide may bring more pollen from plants and increased mold and fungal growth.
#7 Gators In The Yard
North American alligators require a certain temperature range for survival and reproduction, traditionally limiting them to the southern U.S. But warming temperatures could open new turf to gators with more sightings farther north.
#8 Melting Blitz In South America
High in the Peruvian Andes, parts of the world’s largest tropical ice sheet have melted at an unbelievable pace. Scientists found that significant portions of the Quelccaya Ice Cap that took over 1,600 years to form have melted in only 25 years.
#9 Wine To Go?
Along with other agricultural impacts, climate change may have a dramatic effect on the world’s most famous winemaking regions in coming decades. Areas suitable for grape cultivation may shrink, and temperature changes may impact the signature taste of wines from certain regions.
#10 Home Sweet Home
Thanks to climate change, low-lying island nations may have to evacuate, and sooner than previously expected. Melting of the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets has been underestimated, scientists say, and populations in countries like the Maldives, Kiribati, Tuvalu and others may need to move within a decade.
#11 Trouble On The Ice
Warmer winters in northern latitudes could mean fewer days for outdoor hockey. An online project called RinkWatch aims to collect data on the condition of outdoor winter ice rinks in Canada and the northern U.S. and educate people on the impacts of climate change.
#12 A Damper On Your Raw Bar?
Experts speculate that warming oceans may have played a part in a strain of herpes that has killed Pacific oysters in Europe in recent years.
#13 The Color-Changing Bears
As Arctic ice melts and polar bears see more of their habitat disappear, the animals could lose their famous white coats. Researchers have already witnessed polar bears hybridizing with their brown cousins, but note that it would take thousands of years from them to adapt themselves out of existence.
#14 Less Time On The Chair Lift
Climate change means warmer winters in northern latitudes and a shorter ski season. By 2039, more than half of the Northeast’s ski resorts will not be able to maintain a 100-day season, according to the New York Times.
Ski areas will be less likely to receive regular snowfall, and warmer daily low temperatures mean fewer opportunities for snowmaking.
#15 Sour Apples
Apples produced in one Himalayan state of India are already losing their taste and even turning sour, experts say. Increased rainfall and erratic weather in the region mean less than ideal conditions for famously-sweet Kashmiri apples.
#16 A Tough Time For Mushers
With climate change already impacting northern latitudes, warmer winters in Alaska could mean less than ideal conditions for the famous Iditarod sled dog race. “It definitely has us concerned,” a musher and Iditarod spokeswoman who’s already breeding dogs with thinner coats told The New York Times.
#17 A Cold Cup Of Coffee
Climate change may dramatically shrink the area suitable for coffee cultivation by the end of the century and cause the extinction of Arabica coffee plants in the wild. Starbucks has already declared that “Addressing climate change is a priority.”