Human life depends on natural resources and climate change is affecting everything: from food to mineral extraction to technology devices, which need energy sources to stay connected. With the imbalance of seemingly simple day-to-day mechanisms, such as the rainfall cycle for agriculture, all sectors of society will have to adapt.
Climate change impacts
Climate warming has been in the spotlight of public opinion for some years now.
Today, the consequences of global warming are no longer a possibility of a dystopian future.
In fact, they are a scientifically proven reality that we have to live with on a daily basis.
The effects of global warming can be seen in the increase in the planet’s average temperature, which rises year by year.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main scientific reference entity on the subject, the last century was the hottest on Earth since the end of the last glacial period.
Created in the context of the United Nations (UN), the IPCC registered an average increase of 0.7ºC in the 20th century.
Main global warming impacts
In extreme cases, entire populations will be forced to migrate in search of places with greater availability of water and productive land.
With rising sea levels, the erosion of coastal cities will force coastal populations to move elsewhere. Island nations are at risk of disappearing altogether if global warming continues at the same pace.
The effects of global warming are also felt in agriculture because of longer dry spells, with some regions receiving less rainfall than expected, and other more frequent extreme events, such as more intense rains and colds.
We can’t forget that climate change has a severe impact on human health.
Climate change and health
Dou know that the famous GHG (Greenhouse Gases) can cause an increase of of respiratory diseases?
This is a worldwide problem, the air pollution levels we have today are responsible for 7 million deaths per year, according to medical societies and the World Health Organization.
Gases from combustion involving motor vehicles, industrial processes, and thermal power plants that use fossil fuels weigh heavily on this account.
The rise in the planet’s temperature results in deaths caused by extreme heat waves, such as the one that hit France in 2019 and killed about 1,500 people, half of whom were over 75 years old. Temperatures reached 46°C, a record high in the country.
Data showed a 9.1% increase in summer deaths compared to the national average.
According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), higher temperatures are also related to a 2% increase in mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Just remembering, the greenhouse gases are:
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
- Nitrogen Oxide (NxOx)
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
- Methane (CH4)
How climate change is affecting economy
Depending on the city where you live, the rise in temperature will even interfere with jobs.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), climate change will result in job losses due to extreme events, damage to public and private infrastructure, impacts on working conditions and occupational safety (interfering with health conditions and productivity at work), and forced migration due to reduced income.
In a warmer planet, activities performed outdoors, such as civil construction and agriculture, will have to adapt to climate changes. Furthermore, those who stay inside offices will depend on air conditioning to keep the environment comfortable.
Likewise, storms and floods affect urban infrastructure, cause chaos in transportation, and often claim human lives. Severe droughts compromise the water supply in cities and make business impossible.
As we can see, the practical implications of climate change are vast and numerous, and pervade different aspects of life in society. At the same time, human life depends on the balance of the planet’s ecosystems and their biodiversity, which are also impacted by climate change.
The harmful and growing impacts on glaciers, oceans, nature, economies, and human living conditions affect present and future generations. Hence the urgency of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the climate crisis.
Climate change predictions
The data in the IPCC’s 2007 document, recorded an average increase of 0.7ºC in the 20th century – information that has since been reproduced in several other studies.
It also predicts an even greater rise in temperatures in the 21st century, which could reach 4°C by the end of this century if nothing is done on a global scale.
The panel warns that never before in human history has such a huge warming been recorded in such a short time.
According to an IPCC report published in October 2018, an increase of just 2°C in temperature would mean an extinction of 99% of coral reefs, 16% of plants, and a rise in sea level of 0.46 meters by 2100, caused by melting glaciers.
The most recent document, from 2019, brings important observations and recommendations.
According to the IPCC, facing the climate catastrophe requires fast and unprecedented measures, limiting the planet’s warming to 1.5º C in relation to the pre-industrial period.
If this barrier is overcome, there are risks of:
- More frequent fires, droughts and floods, destroying regions and leading to the advance of poverty in the world
- Loss of land due to rising sea levels, leading to climate refugees
- Advance in tropical disease vectors due to higher temperatures
- Damage to agriculture, putting food security at risk
- Serious risk to ecosystems and biodiversity.
International agreements to combat global warming
Nations have sought mutual cooperation through treaties and agreements, although in some of them actions are still not enough.
- Paris Agreement: its main objective is to curb global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Agenda 2030: list of goals and obligations to guide countries towards sustainable development, eradicate extreme poverty, and promote peace
- Rio +20: promoted by the UN, this series of conferences sought to reaffirm the environmental commitment of member nations
- Rio +10: a series of measures aimed at environmental preservation, with a focus on developing countries
- Montreal Protocol: an event focused on defining measures to minimize the impacts on the ozone layer
- Kyoto Protocol: aimed at mitigating the impact of environmental problems and climate change on the planet.