The world is facing so many immediate problems, racism, poverty, lack of education, refugees, and even global conflicts right now in 2017.
All of these have impacts that society immediately notices which is part of the reason why they are being addressed with such urgency. An even bigger issue is not being addressed by society. Each year nearly 10 gigatons of carbon are emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activities. This seemingly harmless act is changing, at an alarmingly fast rate, the environments that society relies on for food, recreation, and even business. Although some claim that climate change is not a threat to mankind that requires quick action, the majority of evidence supports that the phenomenon presents a significant danger to the human race which calls for immediate action to prevent serious damage.
When people hear the term climate change, they often think of the ice caps melting and assume polar bears are the only animals that have to worry. Most people do not consider the impact that climate change has on global economies, coastal communities, or worldwide food supply. Numerous negative impacts result from this environmental concern, but due to gradualness of changing conditions, society can easily overlook them. Oversight of the problems results in a lack of urgency in taking steps toward fixing the issue, which is necessary to ensure a better future for generations to come.According to the majority of scientists, the various impacts of climate change will create a significant negative impact in global economies. To begin, one negative impact humanity is already feeling is that decreased pH levels in ocean waters are impairing the ability of shellfish to reproduce which harms the shellfishing industry. Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist and climate policy manager with the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, states that rising sea level and increasing ocean acidity in the United States West Coast waters are changing the economy and environment for the worse.
Rising sea level in Washington estuaries is introducing new predators and less suitable waters for salmon to sustain their populations. The increase in ocean acidity of just .1 pH has been definitively linked to declines in hatchery production at oyster farms near Oregon’s Netarts Bay. This is due to the fact that Oyster Larvae struggle to produce shells in the lower pH waters and salmon are watching their once safe habitat become filled with predators.
The hundreds of businesses that make their living off of these creatures will soon be out of work (Cleetus). Serious ramifications from the slight decrease in pH are causing economic damage in the shellfish industry. Although only observed along the US West Coast, similar effects are occurring around the globe.
Secondly, one of the impacts of climate change is that it expands the region prone to wildfires and increases the risk of a wildfire occurring, which in turn can result in damage to a large amount of infrastructure. By lengthening the wildfire season, 12.7 billion dollars of property are put in the path of a future wildfire. That property destruction would be in addition to the cost of fighting the fires which can be upwards of one billion dollars on its own. Oregon has already set goals of reducing heat-trapping emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, but their action alone will not be enough to prevent the avoidable disaster.
By lowering emission levels the wildfire season will be shortened and the area prone to wildfires will shrink. By lowering emissions wildfires can not be eliminated but the scale of them can be brought down significantly (Cleetus). Oregon is taking immediate action in an attempt to save the billions of dollars and millions of lives. The economic risk that climate change poses is a significant danger to the human race and without immediate action it will only continue to grow. Perhaps most importantly, damage to infrastructure caused by the impacts of climate change can cost billions of dollars to repair or replace. The importance of society adapting to rapid sea level rise, temperature change, and systematic weather events is undeniable.
With over one billion dollars of infrastructure located within the first two miles of shore just in the US alone, adaptation is a need. This significant portion of land is home to millions of Americans who will have to find a new place to live if nothing is changed (Bahadur). With such a large physical infrastructure value at risk, society needs to evaluate whether or not the risk of not acting on global warming is worth the potential loss. Nearly everyone is impacted in one way or another by the effects of sea level rise as human displacement will soon be inevitable. All of this shows that the negative impact of climate change on global economies is devastating.For every year that humanity does not begin to act on mitigating climate change, damage to global economies and various environments increases exponentially.
Should carbon emissions not be capped, the impacts of climate change will create indirect loss of crops and human life. Valentin Foltescu, a scientist in the United Nations Environment Programme Science Division claims that, “If we wait to mitigate our pollutant emissions there will be negative, and potentially irreversible, impacts across the globe. Humans have the potential to reduce methane emissions by 25% and black carbon emissions by 75%, within the next 25 years. The technologies required to eliminate pollutant emissions are accessible and if quickly implemented can: avoid an estimated 2.4 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution annually by 2030, and prevent as much as 52 million tonnes of crop losses per year. A global effort to reduce climate change causing pollutants, starting now, can keep global warming below 2°C” (Foltescu). Society has the essential technologies to combat climate change and mitigate the global warming crisis. Emissions can be reduced to a safe level where adaptation will be manageable.
Without changes, the United States will be faced with billions of dollars in crop loss and infrastructure damage and the premature loss of millions of lives. Coastal populations also will be forced to deal with rapidly increasing sea levels, either adapting or relocating in order to survive. According to New York City’s website, the impacts of Hurricane Sandy represented only a fraction of the climate change risks New York City could face in the future.
Officials there are looking at future storms even stronger than hurricane Sandy, intense heat waves, extreme downpours, and severe droughts. In 2013, the New York City Panel on Climate Change produced local projections for climate change detailing these risks. Due to New York City’s dense urban environment temperatures could increase by up to seven degrees than those in surrounding areas. Those, studies show that New York City could see up to 30 inches of sea level rise by the year 2050 which would drown the 100 year floodplain that New York City’s population of up to 800,000 reside on. Should this area be flooded, billions of dollars of damage will be done and billions more will be needed to repair or rebuild. The only possible way to avoid this is to focus global efforts on the mitigation of climate change (Cohen). The potential infrastructure damage posed to coastal towns and cities is undeniable. Coastal populations will be forced to leave their homes for good in the near future should mitigation techniques not be implemented.
Equally alarming, the global food supply could potentially plummet due to the impacts of climate change. In 2016, 25 United States military and national security experts, warned that climate change poses a significant risk to The United States national security. They claimed this mainly on the basis of food security stating that a depleted food supply will create public unease.
Similarly, the Overseas Development Institute claims that areas suffering more impacts see increases in crime and poverty (Bahadur). The potential disaster affecting food security is unavoidable with global warming continues at its current rate. Humans can not adapt at a fast enough rate to maintain economic and political stability. The need to establish a sufficient food supply for the global population is necessary in order to prevent civil unrest.
The damage being created by the negative impacts of climate change is only growing and putting more people at risk.The risk that climate change poses to coastal infrastructure and industry is a significant threat to those living in low elevation coastal zones. The population that lives near or on the coast will be most exposed to the immeasurable and countless impacts of climate change. In an analysis of the global population residing in the Low Elevation Coastal Zone, the group found an unproportionally large percentage of global population residing in the most dangerous place regarding the impacts of climate change. This is the zone that sea level rise would flood if it reaches current prediction levels. The group states that although only two percent of the world’s land area it contains 10 percent of the world’s population and 13 percent of the world’s urban population.
This number is completely out of proportion and it is due mainly to the benefits of coastal living. One Other alarming fact the group presents is that the lesser developed countries have a greater percentage of their population residing in the low elevation coastal zone. This is alarming because these underdeveloped areas do not have the same flood prevention technologies and emergency resources that the modernized world has.
The article states that in order to prevent this from happening the world needs to immediately begin applying mitigation attempts, migration and settlement modification (McGranahan). The significant global population that resides in these zones at risk is a representation of the need for immediate action to prevent global disaster. Without any intervention these people will be forced to abandon their homes, towns, and even cities.
This risk is one of many for the global coastal population and it serves as a primary motivation to act now in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. Even in the small town of Narragansett, Rhode Island the impacts of climate change are creating increased flooding and extreme precipitation events. “Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay water level is higher than it used to be This in turn leads to more common flooding, especially on moon tides or king tides. The flooding of roads and property is a growing problem with not many solutions. We’re also seeing more frequent and intense precipitation events that add to the already increased risk of flooding” (Hamblett).
Damage to local infrastructure due to climate change is a serious problem in coastal Rhode Island communities. With increasing sea levels and more frequent storms, the cost of infrastructure damage is continually increasing. New England is also seeing a shift in ecology, altering local markets and ecosystems. “There are people like fishermen and farmers who are feeling the effects of climate change more than anyone else. Those folks need to be engaged in the discussion for change, people like the maple syrup farmers in New Hampshire and the fisherman in Galilee are seeing things change before their eyes. The impacts of climate change are altering the environments these people work in making it hard for them to do their job efficiently and effectively. It’s very hard for them to understand what’s going on and keep up with it” (Hamblett). The impacts of climate change are already being felt in both local and regional industries.
The changes are happening so fast that the people in these industries can not adapt to the changes quick enough. This results in loss of production and therefore loss of profit. Climate change presents a serious risk to both the industries and infrastructure of coastal communities that are the most exposed to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is affecting farmers globally and is altering the stability of the world’s food supply.
The impacts of climate change will negatively impact the livestock industry that a very large portion of the human race relies on for food. Livestock is of serious importance to modern society. With over 50 percent of agricultural receipts having purchased some form of livestock, humans have become rather reliant on livestock.
The effects of climate change poses a significant threat to this industry. Over time, heat stress can increase vulnerability to disease, reduce fertility, and reduce milk production. This combined with the increased risk of drought and disease will leave the United States in a very bad situation when it comes to meeting the national food demands of the world’s ever growing population (EPA). Outside of ecological and and infrastructure damage, the risk posed to the United States’ national health is great enough that action should be taken as soon as possible. With increased temperatures bacteria and disease spread easier in both human population and the food supply.
If the food supply is short other regions of the world will suffer also. Yet another significant impacts is that, global yields of particular crops will drop significantly, diminishing the stability of the global food supply. The United States farmers account for a significant portion of global food supply in certain areas such as grain. Although technological advances have allowed for an increase in the total yield, there have been numerous occasions where environmental factors brought on from climate change have reduced crop yields.
With some harvest falling 25 percent below expected, the global market and food supply is at serious risk. For example, in 2010 and 2012, high nighttime temperatures affected corn yields across the U.S. Corn Belt, and premature budding due to a warm winter caused $220 million in losses of Michigan cherries in 2012 (EPA). The United States farmers account for a significant portion of global food supply in certain areas such as grain. Although technological advances have allowed for an increase in the total yield g, there have been numerous occasions where environmental factors brought on from climate change have reduced crop yields. With some harvest falling 25 percent below expected, the global market and food supply is at serious risk.
For example, in 2010 and 2012, high nighttime temperatures affected corn yields across the U.S. Corn Belt, and premature budding due to a warm winter caused $220 million in losses of Michigan cherries in 2012. However, A slight increase in Carbon Dioxide levels could potentially result in an increase in production of major C3 crops.One report claims that an increase in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide from 385 ppm (parts per million) to 550 ppm would increase yields of the leading carbon based crops, wheat, soybeans, and rice, by 13 percent and would not impact the yields of maize and sorghum, the leading carbon based grains. Dr. William R. Cline developed a similar estimate; because carbon based grains represent about one-fourth of world agricultural output, he projects a weighted average of 9 percent increase in global yields from 550 ppm (Ackerman).
This means that, global warming could potentially benefit the global farming situation. It has been noted that increased levels of CO2 can boost levels of crop yield up to a certain point. This would be beneficial to the world and farmers who see the increases in crop production.Adapting to the impacts that climate change presents is a better option for society rather than attempting to mitigate those impacts. There are scientists who claim that global warming poses no significant immediate threat. Patrick Michaels, and environmental scientist at the CATO institute claims that although global warming is real it does not pose a significant threat to society.
He claims that even if it did pose an immediate disaster, the technologies to combat the phenomenon cost effectively have not been developed yet. In Michaels’ opinion the best action to take is none. Rather he suggests save the money for future, more cost effective, technologies and unavoidable adaptation (Michaels). By admitting that global warming is a man made issue the author gains credibility in his claim that it is not an immediate threat because he is addressing both sides.
The idea of adaptation is more appealing than prevention to him because he believes the impacts can be controlled and beneficial. The economic benefits of adapting to the changes identified with climate change outweigh the benefits of mitigating the issues. The surface temperature of the Earth is about 0.
8 C warmer than it was in 1900 humans certainly played a role in that. Michaels poses three questions for the reader to answer which are, Does a .8 Celsius change in surface temperature portend an unmitigated disaster? Can anything meaningful be done about the issue at this time? And if nothing can be done, what should or can society do in the future? He then answers the questions rather simply with his opinion that climate change is not a significant danger to humans in any way. Rather the world must adapt to the changes and even benefit economically off of the predictable adaptation needs. Life expectancy has doubled and some crop yields quintupled since 1900 (Michaels). Michaels seeks to take advantage of the changes associated with climate change which is why he does not believe it is an issue. By analyzing the few positive impacts the negative impacts appear to be few and far between. Increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide will improve global economies up to a certain point.
Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University after he reviewed 14 different studies on the effects of future climate trends and claims that global warming has many positive associations and negative ones. The negative effects of climate change are blown out of proportion by the media. When you put the benefits and setbacks side by side the positives far outweigh the negatives. This will be the case until 2080 when the average temperature has increased 3 degrees celsius above pre industrial levels (Ridley). This implies that climate change is not a significant and immediate issue that needs to be dealt with. In the short term the effects are beneficial but in the long term climate change will have a negative impact. The frequency and intensity of storms will continue to devastate coastal communities. The ocean has more potential energy available for hurricanes than in years past.
According to Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA, ‘the rate of energy gained between 1971 and 2010 was roughly equal to the power required to run 140 billion 1,500-watt hair dryers over the same number of years. The rate has only increased in the past decade.’ This in turn means that the energy now stored is available to ocean storms in the form of heat energy.
This makes the events that used to be rare, more frequent and more intense (Streissguth). The imminent threat of global warming increasing storm intensity is evident in Johnson’s evaluation. The new high powered storms will make the impacts of storms like Sandy, Harvey, and Jose seem miniscule.
The looming danger to human life and assets needs to be addressed as soon as possible if there is any hope in avoiding super storms. The power of the storms has increased due to climate change. “Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developed a method to measure the total energy expended by tropical cyclones over their lifetimes. In 2005, he showed that Atlantic hurricanes are about 60 percent more powerful than they were in the 1970s.
Storms lasted longer and their top wind speeds had increased by 25 percent.” (Streissguth). Not only is the threat of strengthened storms a future issue, it is happening already. As Emanuel stated, Atlantic hurricanes are about 60 percent more powerful than they were in the seventies than they are now in the year 2017. Although scientists can not verify that these storms could have formed without global warming it is clear that as the globe warms the frequency and intensity of these storms are too. A warmer ocean will result in increased damages and flooding in areas exposed to hurricanes.
Scientists expect a 2-degree Celsius rise in ocean temperature in the next 100 years. This translates to a huge increase in potential damages of future hurricanes.The warmer an ocean is, the easier it is for water to evaporate out and into the storm which makes the storm much more intense. Increased heavy participation events and dry spells result in land efficiency and quality decreases. Since warm air holds more water than cold air, air with a higher moisture content can produce a large increase in the amount of rainfall.
Heavy rainfall raises the probability of dangerous flooding, as seen with Hurricane Irene in 2011 (Cimons). With multiple thousands of deaths the threat is a current and avoidable problem. Despite the physical damage the storms create they also leave behind longer lasting negative impacts. In areas that have been impacted frequent dry spells and heavy rainfall shorten the growing season and leave the region with fewer economic assets.Although some argue that climate change is beneficial for society as a whole, there are many studies that refute this idea in the sense that it will have lasting negatives impacts in the future. The effects of climate change will eventually destroy global economies and their localized markets. The longer that society waits to take action on the issue, the more damage will be done in the future. Coastal populations will be faced with serious flooding and storm damages from rising tides and increased extreme precipitation events.
With the volatility of global weather conditions associated with climate change the world’s food supply will become unstable. The hurricanes of the future will be stronger, longer, and more frequent creating a significant increase in coastal damage and loss of life. In spite of the fact that climate change may pose some immediate benefits there is significant research to show that the phenomenon’s effects will have a detrimental impact in the long term.