What climate change effects you should expect to see in this century? The envonriment impact on our lives is already a global issue and some symptons of global warming are already showing up for most countries.
What cause climate change
The cause of climate change is an imbalance in the emission of greenhouse gases.
In short, our atmosphere is protected by the ozone layer. This layer has two fundamental roles in the dynamics of the planet Earth:
1 – It prevents solar radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface with its full force. If the ozone layer did not exist, it would be impossible to have life on the planet due to the strong exposure to the sun.
2 – The protection of the ozone layer prevents the amount of heat that reaches our surface from returning to the vacuum of space completely. If the layer did not exist, nights on Earth would reach temperatures below 273°C.
This is how all species, including mankind, have had the opportunity and privilege to exist on this planet.
However, this greenhouse that allows life on Earth is very delicate to vary. When a volcano erupts, for example, our atmosphere receives a large amount of CO2. But such super eruptions are very rare. Follow the next paragraphs to understand the global warming causes.
CO2 emissions by volcanoes vs. emissions by humans
For example, the Mount St. Helens eruption emitted about 10 million tons into the atmosphere in just 9 hours. However, at current levels, mankind’s lifestyle produces that same amount in only 2.5 hours – according to information from the USGS.
And what is the problem with CO2? Well, there are several types of gases in the atmosphere on planet Earth, but our focus here is on greenhouse gases.
CO2 and climate change
Greenhouse gases (GHG) are so called because they have a unique ability to trap some of the radiation they receive from the sun. They literally store heat.
The main greenhouse gases, as you can imagine, are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).
When a volcano erupts, as we mentioned, the result is a large concentration of these gases in the atmosphere, which tends to get warmer because of this “superpower” of GHGs.
Here is the problem: mankind is much worse than a volcano for climate change.
Since the 1800s, when we discovered the steam engine, we have been burning fossil fuels to generate energy. Energy that powered the first Industrial Revolution and that is responsible for the gasoline in your car.
In order to increase our production of energy and consumer goods, mankind has emitted unimaginable amounts of CO2 in the last 200 years, generating the phenomenon that we call global warming.
Climate change is basically the practical effects that this global warming has generated, such as the melting of the polar ice caps, changes in the rainfall cycle, warming of the oceans, rising sea levels, and much more.
Climate change and health
Climate change leaves all of humanity vulnerable to a series of diseases that can be lethal.
Our health is at risk, and health-related public policies will have to prepare a large budget to treat the population that will suffer the consequences of global warming. Here are some examples raised by the World Health Organization (WHO):
Malnutrition and Dehydration
Global warming is already hurting food production around the globe. Agriculture depends heavily on the predictability of the weather, and as extreme and unexpected events are becoming more common, food availability tends to decrease.
In addition to less food, with a fragile soil, without adequate hydration (because of the change in the rainfall cycle) will certainly result in food of low nutritional quality. The same will happen with humankind, that will not have enough fresh water to drink due to large droughts.
Less food and less nutritious food. Without these complications, hunger is already one of the biggest challenges of the modern world. How do we deal with the impacts of poor nutrition on the world’s population?
Consequences of extreme events
Tsunamis, droughts, forest fires (because of dry weather), floods, days of lethal heat. All these events are going to be magnified because of climate change. They will not only happen more intensely in the coming years, but more frequently.
Unfortunately, extreme events leave a trail of death and destruction in their wake. We know that every natural disaster leaves irreparable losses, and we are not talking about material losses.
Nobody is prepared for the effects of all these events happening in many places at the same time.
Infections and other diseases
Due to the low availability of nutrients, the immune system of the human species tends to be weakened.
Every person on the planet will be more susceptible to bacteria- or worm-related diseases. Not only will we be more likely to get diseases, but we will also have fewer resources in our bodies to fight off these diseases, which means that some infections that were once easily treatable may become more lethal.
Vector-borne diseases also have a great chance of facing an exponential increase. With a more humid and warmer climate (thanks to global warming and heavy rainfall in some regions), the proliferation of mosquitoes is likely to get worse.
Many of these insects are vectors of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, zika virus, yellow fever, malaria, leishmaniasis and more.
In an extremely connected world, we all know that an epidemic can easily become a pandemic. After the experience of the last few years, we know that humanity does not have the expertise to deal with health crises on a global scale.
What climate change effects in economy we’re facing?
No human being can survive without water. Because of changes in the rainfall climate, many places will experience longer droughts. The economic problems of this are countless.
To give you an idea, there is a gigantic demand for water for food production.
One pound of beef demands 1,799 gallons of water in its production. When we talk about pork, it takes 576 gallons of water for one pound.
More generally, the meat industry needs 4,387 km² of water annually to maintain food production around the world.
Without enough water, it is not possible to produce the amount of food needed for a population of 8 billion people.
Even if the energy source in your region is coal, it takes a lot of water to keep the machinery running.
According to the Department of Defense National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), electricity production uses about 12 million gallons of water per hour.
The situation is much worse when we focus on countries that use hydroelectric power.
Countries like Brazil base their energy matrix on hydroelectric power. By 2020, about 64% of all the power produced in the country was through water.
Can you imagine the impact of a country of more than 200 million inhabitants practically without electricity? That’s why it could be crucial to check solar panel for your home.
Agribusiness is one of the major contributors to climate change. We know that the energy sector is the great villain of global warming; considering electric power and gasoline, 73% of the carbon footprint of the United States is in this sector.
But livestock is just as dangerous.
Livestock is responsible for 37% of all U.S. methane emissions. Even if the emissions are smaller than the thousands of tons of carbon emitted by the electricity sector, methane has an impact on climate change 80 times greater, because it has the power to trap much more heat in the atmosphere.
The irony is that agriculture and agribusiness are the biggest dependents on the environment. The entire production of grains, such as corn and soybeans, widely used in most products around the world, depends on the predictability of the climate.
Without predictability, a market that is sustained by future profit (it raises money to produce and pays after the sale) has no way of staying alive.
Flooding caused by storms or the complete loss of a crop due to droughts will have a direct impact on the world’s production of food and consumer goods.
In the economic projections, one must also take into consideration the wildfires that are sure to happen due to extremely dry weather, such as the fires that happened to west coat in 2022.
This, of course, will make the cost of food more expensive for everyone, increasing social inequality, especially in developing countries.
Humanity has reached a population of 8 billion people. This in itself is a complex problem for the distribution of water, food, consumer goods, and energy around the planet.
With the effects of climate change, this problem becomes even greater. Sea level rise is already a reality in 2023 and is expected to get much worse by 2030.
Several territories will disappear with rising sea levels, for example Venice in Italy, the Maldives Islands, Santa Catarina in Brazil, and Miami, which may cease to exist by 2100.
The flooding of these and hundreds of other regions will cause many material losses and loss of life, and will force a wave of migration of millions of families, who will certainly need to start their lives from scratch elsewhere.
How many cities in the world are prepared to house the millions of people who will be displaced in the coming decades?
How can we ensure that all these people will have jobs and housing?
Take into consideration all the effects of climate change already mentioned in the previous items. This dystopian scenario, which will very soon become our reality, will bring up a social scenario that is just as worrying.
People without jobs and homeless. The cost of food at levels never before seen. Water rationing. Power shortages. The increase of homeless people and a vicious cycle in the economy: the fewer people with purchasing power, the fewer products and, consequently, the fewer jobs.
The worsening social inequality caused by global warming has the potential to raise crime rates to new heights across the planet.