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11 ways the world (as we know it) could end

By: Laura Moss on Feb. 16, 2011, 10:20 a.m.
arid landscape

Photo: imagedepotpro/iStockphoto

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Global warming

Whether you believe in man-made warming or not, there’s no denying the planet is getting hotter. In fact, 2010 tied 2005 for the warmest year on record with global temperatures 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. And there are some who say that we’re running out of time to stop irreversible climate change — in fact, by some calculations we’re less than a decade away.

According to climate scientists, once a critical greenhouse gas concentration threshold is passed, global warming will continue even if we stop releasing gases into the atmosphere. If this occurs, the Earth’s climate will become more volatile, resulting in catastrophic weather patterns. Plus, as temperatures rise, food will become scarce, air quality will worsen and diseases will spread. The World Health Organization estimates that 150,000 people are already killed by climate change-related issues each year, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that global warming poses as much of a threat to the world as war.