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5 Ways Climate Change Is Threatening the Future of Humanity

CRISIS - Viability of Life on Earth by Jane Marsh Global Commons Aug 30th 20235 mins
5 Ways Climate Change Is Threatening the Future of Humanity

Doomsday scenarios are some of Hollywood’s greatest storytelling genres. Extreme weather conditions like massive typhoons, hurricanes, hailstorms, and tsunamis fill the plot of blockbuster movies. Of course, the protagonist and their family survive, as indicated in the script. What about the extras swept away by massive floods or people buried under rubble? They aren’t as fortunate to make it to the end scene. The same can be said for communities most impacted by the effects of climate change. The key difference is that what happens on the big screen is fictional. Real people are being affected more often by recurring extreme weather events, and death tolls rise with every new natural disaster. The worst thing about this is that they are only destined to increase in frequency and intensity as the climate crisis intensifies.

Climate Change and Global Warming Intertwined

These terms are often used interchangeably when debated on the global stage. However, there is a big difference between them. Global warming is a byproduct of climate change and is a single aspect that makes up the big picture. It is the long-term warming of the planet due to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

On the other hand, climate change refers to a wide range of drastic changes transforming the planet. Some examples are rising sea levels, shifts in plant growth, and melting glaciers and polar ice caps. These events can be traced back to the continuous consumption of natural resources like fossil fuels.

The Consequences of Human Actions

An increase in global temperatures triggers catastrophic events on a massive scale. The planet has warmed 1.1C since 1880 and is warming up quicker than anticipated. Global warming is taking its toll on the Earth, with the effects becoming more apparent every day that passes.

Humanity is facing challenges left and right due to the drastic effects of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten livelihoods in coastal areas while other communities suffer longer and more severe droughts. The situation will only get worse if the issues go unanswered. Here are five disastrous scenarios that result from climate change.

1. Lives and Livelihoods Lost

Extreme heat is a leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, with cities being the most vulnerable. The situation is exacerbated by reduced vegetation in urban areas, constant emissions from city vehicles and the absence of heat-reflecting building materials.

Worldwide heatwaves will become more frequent and longer. This poses a massive threat to people who work outdoors, like farmers, miners, and construction workers. Factory and warehouse employees are also affected by excessive heat.

Working conditions will deteriorate as outside temperatures become unbearable. People must adjust to new schedules to avoid overheating during peak hours.

2. Food and Water Problems

Droughts cause food shortages, further threatening global food security. Poorer countries battling malnutrition will have a harder time keeping up. Agriculture is taking a huge hit as climate change worsens every year. Lands that were once fit for planting will continue to degrade until they are no longer suitable for cultivation.

Rising global temperatures also pave the way for water shortages. Farm workers must look for other means to irrigate fields as water supplies run out. 

Storms and floods can also affect water quality and lead to widespread diseases. Contamination increases as runoff picks up pollutants from the streets and overflowing sewage systems.

You might also like: How Water Shortages Impact Food Security

3. Damage to Property

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas, resulting in dozens of deaths and widespread flooding. The hurricane dumped an estimated 275 trillion pounds of water, causing deformations and sinking and affecting residents and businesses.

Flooding is an ever-present threat resulting from climate change. Citizens must safeguard their homes through waterproofing to prevent costly problems caused by standing water, such as mold and mildew. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates homeowners could be looking at $25,000 in damage from 1 inch (2,5cm) of floodwater.

Category 4 and 5 hurricanes are expected to increase in the coming years due to worsening climate change. Already struggling communities will take the brunt of the economic impact brought by these extreme weather events. 

4. Growing Public Health Concerns

Growing public health concerns stem from increasing environmental stressors. In major cities worldwide, air pollution poses major health risks as it is linked to major illnesses like lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and asthma. It is estimated that air pollution kills more than 8 million people worldwide every year.

To make matters worse, severe wildfires exacerbate the effects of air pollution in many parts of the world. The hotter and drier weather caused by droughts compounds to create perfect conditions for raging fires that endanger lives.

Extreme weather events also pose additional health risks to affected communities. Warmer weather lengthens the life spans of mosquitoes and other insects that carry deadly diseases like dengue, malaria, and Zika. Severe storms can also contaminate water sources and spread diseases like diaorrhea, cholera, and Legionnaires disease. Both scenarios can lead to disastrous outbreaks and more casualties.

You might also like: Bangladesh Battles Deadliest Dengue Fever Outbreak on Record as WHO Blames Global Warming for Spike in Cases Worldwide

5. Displaced Communities and Inequity

Environmental problems directly affect the lives of people. Displaced communities and cases of inequity will increase as more extreme weather events batter the world. Everyone experiences the effects of climate change in one way or another. The quicker the world realises that, the better.

The global community should recognise the disproportionate burden caused by climate change on poorer countries. Often, nations that contribute least to the problem are the ones bearing the most brunt of the dramatic events that occur as a consequence of global warming as they do not have the right infrastructure or economic resources to prevent them or mitigate their impact.

Nations should band together to aid developing countries in their fight against climate change. Saving the environment should be a mission for places that wish to see a healthier, more sustainable world.

Climate Change Is Everyone’s Problem

The evidence is compelling, and it is everywhere. The quicker the world realises climate change affects everyone, the better. The global community must unite to address the recurring environmental issues and share resources and expertise to find solutions. Climate change is here and the time for action is now.

You might also like: Climate Finance: Are the Rich Nations Doing Enough?


About the Author

Jane Marsh

Jane works as the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co. She specialises in covering topics in sustainability, renewable energy and environmental policy.

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