The climate change is here to stay and alarm signals are intensified. The month of June 2019 was the hottest in recorded history, which means that we have had temperatures above the 21st century average for 414 months in a row. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We will tell you the main consequences of a global challenge.
Consequences of climate change
We live in the Anthropocene or Age of Humans. It is a geological era affected by the activity of humanity, an interglacial period where temperatures are expected to rise due to natural causes but, above all, due to the action of humans and their greenhouse gas emissions. All of this causes unprecedented global warming –increasing the temperature of the air and the oceans– and a disruption in the natural order that advances without stopping.
This mess, moreover, is especially punishing the most vulnerable people on the planet. If urgent action is not taken, climate change could plunge another 100 million people into poverty by 2030. It is included in the SDG13 – Action for the climate: Adopt urgent measures to combat climate change and its effects. Let’s review the main consequences of climate change:
More frequent and intense extreme weather events
Heat waves, droughts, fires, cyclones or floods will be more and more pressing. It is something that has been seen in Spain with episodes such as the Gran Canaria fire. Although climate change does not explain the origin of these types of fires, the emission of greenhouse gases and, with it, the increase in temperatures, contributes to their spread and virulence.
Poor countries, the most vulnerable
Due to its location on the globe, its lower degree of development or its greater exposure to meteorological phenomena, the poorest communities are the ones that are suffering the most and will suffer from climate change. It is shocking, as they are the people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis. In fact, it is estimated that the poorest half of the planet, 3.5 billion people, is responsible for only 10% of carbon emissions. In contrast, the richest 10% generate half of the world’s emissions.
Some experts already speak of a possible “climate apartheid” that will further accentuate poverty and inequality in the world. It could create, as Philip Alston said, rapporteur for poverty and human rights, “a climate apartheid scenario in which the rich pay to escape from overheating, hunger and conflict, while the rest of the world has to suffer“.
There are 70 million people forcibly displaced in the world due to droughts, disasters, hunger.
Damage to human health
The climate change influences the social and environmental determinants of health: clean air, clean water, adequate food and safe housing. In addition, it increases the risk of transmission of vectors such as dengue or malaria, and is estimated to cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.
Food insecurity and loss of livelihoods
The propensity to natural disasters increased by the effects of climate change translates into continuous losses of crops, livestock, infrastructure and human lives. Drought and desertification have caused the loss of 12 million hectares from which 20 million tons of grain could have been obtained. Climate change reduces the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions and thus increases levels of malnutrition and malnutrition.
Difficulty accessing safe water sources
Areas affected by drought, lack of rain or evaporation of lakes and rivers will face serious problems in accessing drinking water or suitable for human consumption. There is already talk of “water wars” as one of the consequences of climate change. Even the UN believes that the fight for water will be behind many wars.
Human mobility is one of the main global challenges we face as a society, along with climate change. The environmental or climatic displaced are those people who are forced to leave their environment due to land degradation, desertification and droughts; natural disasters or competition for natural resources, to give a few examples.
Natural resources and energy
Deforestation and disappearance of ecosystems, the loss of marine-coastal resources and the depletion of natural resources are some of the impacts of climate change on the planet. Burning fossil fuels and their high carbon content produces large amounts of greenhouse gases. Renewable energies are becoming increasingly necessary to reduce their impact.