Climate Change Impacts (Reasons for concern)
Climate change impacts the physical environment, ecosystems, and human societies. Human activities are the primary reason causing these climate change impacts. Extreme weather events and glacier retreats are a few examples of climate change.
Both humans and wild animals are facing new survival problems. Climate disasters such as drought, heatwave, forest fire, storms are very frequent now. Millions of people and wildlife are losing their lives every year.
Climate change is estimated to result in an extra 250 000 fatalities each year between 2030 and 2050.
By 2030, the direct health damage costs are about to reach between USD 2-4 billion per year. This cost excludes expenses in health areas like agriculture and water and sanitation.
The amount to which countries cut greenhouse gas emissions. Adapting to climate change will determine the future impact of climate change.
With greater levels of global warming, civilizations and ecosystems will likely reach a point where they can no longer adapt. This will also damage long-term viability.
Without proper aid to planning and respond, Countries with poor health facilities and infrastructure. Developing nations – are least prepared to cope with the upcoming threats.
Vulnerabilities and Impacts
Agriculture and global climate change are two phenomena that are intertwined. Changes in average temperatures, rainfall, and climatic extremes can all have a negative impact (e.g., heat waves).
Here are some of the most prevalent effects of climate change on agriculture:
- Precipitation patterns are shifting, with prolonged intervals of both heavy rain and drought.
- Increased average temperatures, hotter summers, and warmer winters. This can disrupt plant cycles. It results in early blossoming, decreased pollination, and frost damage.
- Forest fires are the main concern of habitat loss these years.
- Increased flooding flash away forests, damages crops, pollutes water and causes soil erosion.
Climate change pressures, when combined with other stresses on ecological systems (e.g., land degradation, pollution). This poses a serious threat to certain unique ecosystems, as well as the extinction of some endangered species.
Climate change is expected to have a detrimental impact on all four pillars of food security. This includes not just the amount of food available but also how easy it is to get food (prices). The quality of food and the stability of the food system are also included.
Higher air temperatures lead plants to lose or happen more water, like how people sweat more when it’s hot outside.
Because of the heated climate, water tables are dwindling. Freshwater resource reduction can have a significant influence on our environment and lifestyles.
See also – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_vs._fuel
Climate Change Impacts on Society (Displacement and migration, Human settlement and Health)
Human susceptibility and exposure to climate change differ by economic sector and will have varied consequences in various nations. The wealthiest industrialized countries, which have released the most CO2, have the most resources and are hence the least vulnerable to global warming.
As global temperatures rise, so does the number of fatalities and illnesses caused by diseases. Pollution due to the burning of fossil fuels is a key driver of global warming as well as the cause of a huge number of yearly fatalities, with some estimates as high as 8.7 million extra deaths in 2018.
Droughts in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central and southern North America, Central America, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa are anticipated to worsen, forcing a high number of people to migrate.
The direct effects of extreme weather, such as injury and death, as well as indirect effects, such as undernutrition caused by crop failures or a lack of access to safe drinking water, are among the human impacts.
For example, emigrating as a result of a severe weather event might increase physical illness and psychological suffering.
Desertification and low soil fertility are anticipated to drive migration from rural regions to towns and cities in emerging countries.
WHO plan in tackling health impacts due to climate change – https://www.who.int/initiatives/cop26-health-programme
Impact of Climate Change on Marginalized Sections
Climate change affects certain populations. Such as those who rely on agricultural or coastal livelihoods. Also, Those who are already vulnerable and discriminated against.
On a national level, residents in low-lying, tiny island nations and developing countries. These will be among the hardest affected, as they currently are, because their areas are located near power plants and refineries. Poorer communities of color in North America live in poisonous air.
Indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable groups to climate change. They live in marginal areas and fragile ecosystems. That is particularly susceptible to changes in the physical environment. Because of their tight interrelationship with the natural world. And also a history of expropriations and forced evictions in certain cases.
Besides, more than 60% of the nations have hilly terrain, making them far more vulnerable to mudslides and flooding.
Food is a weapon for conflicting parties, who can shut off the food supply. They also disrupt food production and distribution infrastructure and steal food aid.
Agricultural productivity declines, limiting food supply. This may isolate many rural households from their livelihoods. With increased levels of poverty, many families are unable to buy the food they need, or they get it at inflated rates.
Risk of Irreversible Changes
Climate change impacts lead parts of the Earth system into a new state, such as the loss of ice sheets or the destruction of too many forests. The climate system exhibits threshold behavior or tipping points.
Tipping points are the most ‘dangerous’ aspect of future climate change, as they can lead to irreversible societal consequences.
Physical modeling and data from Earth’s distant history are used to investigate tipping points.
When these feedbacks push sections of the Earth system into a new state, such as the uncontrolled loss of ice sheets or the destruction of too many forests, the climate system shows threshold behavior or tipping points.
According to one estimate, the Amazon rainforest, which is called the lungs of the earth, might start a 50-year phase of collapse into a savanna around 2021.
There are several examples of climate change consequences on the environment that are potentially irreversible, at least through many human generations.
The melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, as well as alterations to the AMOC, are examples of large-scale singularities. Species extinction would have an irreversible influence on biological systems.
Climate change may result in the extinction of distinct cultures in social systems. Humans living on atoll islands, for example, are at risk from rising sea levels, warmer sea surfaces, and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
Climate Change Modeling
Climate change models are based on current knowledge of atmospheric physics and chemistry. Allows simulations of the consequences of greenhouse gas accumulation centuries into the future.
General circulation models (GCMs) mimic the flow of mass and energy. From one section of the atmosphere to another using a set of mathematical equations. They split the atmosphere and ocean into a series of three-dimensional cells. Each of which distributes mass and energy to its neighbors based on the results of internal equations.
These models are like those used to forecast weather, except they are run on a larger (global) scale and for centuries rather than days.
The models themselves come in a variety of forms, ranging from those that replicate the atmosphere, seas, ice, and land. For a single area of the world or component of the climate system to those that simulate the whole planet’s atmosphere, oceans, ice, and land.
The results of these models advance climate research by allowing scientists to better understand how human activity affects the Earth’s climate. For the past five decades, these advancements have served as the foundation for national and international climate policy choices.
The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.
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