Impacts of climate change and global warming
The overall world temperature has risen by 0.85ºC as compared to the 19th century (Giorgi, 2006). Climate change is contributing to this change of temperature. There are different factors contributing to climate change and global warming. Hansen (1998) has identified different causes of climate change which include deforestation, industrialization and greenhouse emission, increase of livestock farming and, burning of coal. It is safe to say that the humans are damaging the same environment that they live in. The desire of humans to possess more wealth is driving humans to do an unrepeatable damage to this earth.
Since the rise of the industries after the industrial revolution, the impacts of the carbon emission are on the rise. China, India, Russia, America, Japan, Europe and other developed and developing world economies are engaged in an unending race to maximize their industrial production and share the power to control the world. But at the same time, these countries do not realize their responsibilities to contribute to counter the negative impacts of the climate change caused by this industrialization that is so desired by these countries.
In this paper, I would like to shed light on the impacts of climate change on the environment and different populations. I will discuss the impacts of climate change on the world environment. I would also be discussing the social, psychological and, economic impacts of climate change. Towards the end of the paper, I would be providing some recommendations for a way forward to objectively face the dangers of the climate change and global warming.
Environmental impacts of climate change
Climate change has many environmental impacts. These impacts include the change in weather and a change in the ecosystem for many animals and plants. In the following I would like t describe them.
Changes in weather
The most visible impact of climate change is the change in the weather. Especially the increase in the heat at different regions is one of the devastating effect that would compromise the life many humans as they may not be perfectly adapted to this rise in heat or they may not have the appropriate means to counter the increase in heat. Heat waves are on an increase in the world.
Climate change will not only impact the world temperature, but also negatively impact the rain cycles. The world regions that have more rain and need it for agricultural and other needs may not have enough rains in the future as the rain fall would be disturbed by climate change. This could have negative impact on the agriculture of these regions. This could well cause drought in many world regions causing food scarcity.
Change in ecosystems
Different animals and plant are suitable for different ecosystems. If the ecosystem is disturbed, their survival would be at risk. For example the polar bears need to have a colder ecosystem that is provided on the north poles. The rise in the world temperature due to climate change is going to rise the temperature of the north poles. Stirlin & Parkinson (2006) have suggested that this temperature change would cause an extinct of some of the populations of polar bears. In the same way, climate change would have a negative impact on other wildlife by disturbing their ecosystems.
Climate change is warming up forests. There is a possibility that the increased heat may not be hospitable to some plant species and they would not be able to survive this heat resulting in the extinction of these species forever.
Social impacts of climate change
The impacts of climate change are on different social levels. Climate change would impact different cultures and societies. It could even change the social and ethical compositions of different countries of the world. Climate change may impact smaller farmer more severely than it would the bigger ones. In the same way, due to the impacts of climate change, people might need to reach out to medical facilities. It is highly unclear to know how much children, women and other marginalized people would have a reach to these medical facilities. In the following discussion, I have shed some light on different social implications of climate change.
Migration from effected regions
Watson, Zinyowera & Moss (1998) suggest that different regions will be hit differently by global warming with Africa being hit the most severely. When people cannot fight with the environment of a certain region, they are left with no other option but to migrate to some other place. This would mean that people from Africa would try to migrate to different regions within Africa and to other countries. These people would tend to move to develop regions as job and food scarcity caused by the impacts of climate change. This migration may be on individual levels of collective levels on community basis. These migrations would be intended to stop by the regions that are the intended targets of the immigrants and conflicts could be produced by such situations.
Impacts on Agriculture
Schlenker & Lobell (2010) have suggested that the worst effected sector due to the climate change would be agriculture and the worst hit area would be African continent. Due to the disturbance of the rain cycles, more droughts could be cased resulting for less opportunities for agricultural means of living. Global warming is reported to have negatively impacted the maze crops according to Jones, & Thornton (2003), in both Africa and Latin America. Also the absence of water resources mean less water for the animals that is an integral mean of milk and some finances for people living in villages. This would result in a deteriorating condition of the means of agriculture and the life of the people involved in agriculture.
Increase in Unemployment
Different world markets are going to be differently affected by climate change. Especially the underdeveloped regions of the world which primarily depend on forest wood and agriculture as a mean of employment would feel the impacts of climate change more severely. Less job opportunities could mean a pressure on family finances. Unemployment could also cause an increase in crimes. So the consequences of climate change with respect to unemployment are multifaceted. It is obvious that third world countries that cannot counter the effects of climate change would not be able to tackle deteriorating unemployment and crime situations in these countries.
Urbanization for better life
It is a human phenomenon to strive for a better life. People tend to find better life for themselves and for their families. When, due to climate change, the job market and the means of employment like agriculture are negatively influenced, people from rural areas would try to go to urban areas for a job search. The urban areas or cities may not be able to adjust these people. There could be a great problem of the availability of living facilities for the new comers. The rents will also tend to rise creating financial problems to the citizens of these cities as they would have to pay more rents than what they were paying in the absence of the people moving to cities from villages and other under developed areas.
Soil is reported to sink carbon. This sequestration of carbon is dependent on the structure, rainfall, and temperature and soil management (Lal, (2004). The disturbance of the soil surface due to sink of carbon due to an increase proportion of carbon in the environment can contribute to less production of crops and hence food scarcity.
As earlier discussed, climate change is negatively impacting forests. These forests are a way of food in the form of different edible plants and animals which are hunted by humans. Deforestation due to different reasons mean less availability of the food that is acquired from these forests.
Climate change is expected to result in the reduction of water resources. These water resources are used in agriculture to grow crops for food purposes. This water is also consumed by different animals which are eaten by humans. The reduction in water resources could mean a reduction in the number of these animals and the crops from agricultural means.
Water resources are also used for hydel power generation. Hydel power is the most environmental friendly way of energy. Which scarcity of water resources, these hydel power generation would not be able to work at their full capacity and non-environmental friendly means of power generation may be adopted.
Rise of conflicts
It is clear that climate change would contribute to unemployment and migrations. Unemployment means a human resource which has no means of earning livelihood. Therefore, there is an opportunity that these humans are involved in drug trafficking and violent crimes resulting in different conflicts in a society.
Migrations on large scale could mean the change in the ethnical or religious composition of the host populations. In majority cases, such a situation could cause tensions between different communities. Different countries could also try to seal their borders to stop the influx of immigrants resulting in wars between neighboring countries.
Spread of Diseases
Temperature rise in the whole of the world is expected to happen and its signs are already visible in different regions of the world. Sun, White, Stephen & Dukinfield (2016) have suggested that different communal disease which are spread due to increased heat could rise due to climate change. These diseases include Malaria, Zika Virus and Ride Tide. This means an increased pressure on national health systems of the world countries and an increased economic issue for countries already having struggling economies.
Immigrating communities due to the impacts of climate change could also act as the carriers of different diseases to healthy populations. This could have serious reparations for the host communities and build up pressure on the existing health systems. Therefore, international intervention is required in the form of UN to stop the spread of diseases due to immigrations.
Psychological impacts of climate change
Human behavior is an important aspect of the human society. If the behavior is prosocial, the society moves forward smoothly. But if the behavior of individuals or groups become antisocial, the society finds it hard to move smoothly. Different ways are then used to control the antisocial behaviors. It could involve strict laws or psychological help to the individuals who might have psychological disorders due to any reason.
Climate change is also a factor that could contribute to the exposure of an antisocial behavior or a withdrawal behavior in human being. In the following discussion, I would like to discuss the psychological implications of climate change on human beings.
Psychological impacts of land loss
Humans tend to develop an attachment to the places where they live and the lands they possess and use for agriculture or other profitable business. When climate change hit hard and drought are resulted, humans have to leave their homes and lands in order to survive. Humans are forced, by their circumstances to leave the homes where they were born. They also have to leave their agricultural lands behind. These conditions could cause a feeling of sorrow and depression that could have a long lasting effect. Humans may withdraw from active life engagement. Professional psychological help may be required in such situations.
As science progresses, the impacts of climate change are getting clearer. Many people may become anxious about the future of the existence of the world. This anxiousness may well develop to the anxiety disorder. Climate change is bringing an uncertain future for all of us for sure.
Fear is another emotional response that could be developed as we know more about climate change. The exact implications of climate change and global warming are unknown. This limited knowledge about these impacts could be a source of fear for most of us. Fear, when exceeds a limit, could cause a deterioration in the life quality and wellbeing of people. Therefore, knowledge about climate change should not be used to induce unnecessary amount of fear in humans. It is not a good practice to use the severity of the impacts of climate change to create uncertainty and fear just to make sure that people believe in these impacts.
Aggressive behavior may be caused by climate change on two levels. First is an individual level. That is when a person feels that his live is destroyed by say, drought, he/she might tend to aggressive behavior and become violent to other people or the government or even nature. This violent behavior could convert to aggression against other people resulting in fights.
Second is aggression on group or community level. When one community feels that their livelihood is in danger due to other people taking over it, they might tend to violent means against the opposing groups or communities. These kinds of aggressive behaviors could even result in conflict among nations and even wars.
When people from rural areas move to urban areas for better job opportunities, the people living in the cities may consider them as rivals. This could also cause in aggressive encounters between the two sets of people.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
According to Horowitz (1997), post-traumatic stress disorder is the stress produced by a traumatic event. When people have been through worst conditions due to the loss of their livelihood or immigration due to climate change, some of the people in the population may be exposed to the PTSD which is a classified psychological disorder. The conditions of these people may deteriorate as they may not have access to professional psychological help.
Economic Implications of climate change
In their research Mendelsohn, Morrison, Schlesinger & Andronova (2000), used a cross sectional model to assess the country specific market impacts of climate change. According to the inferences that have been drawn as a result of this study, the countries near the Arctic Circle may benefit from the climate change while there would be mild negative implications for tropical countries. This points to the fact that the impacts of climate change are always perceived to be negative but due to an increase in the temperature of the Arctic countries, there may be more opportunities for mobilization and agriculture that could have positive impacts on the economies of these countries.
There are also many negative impacts of the global warming on the economies of different countries. These negative impacts are caused by the effect of climate change and global warming on agriculture which contributes to the economies of many countries. Also more resources would be needed to counter the impacts of climate change like the spread of communal diseases.
There are no certain solutions to the negative impacts of climate change and global warming that is haunting the human future. Change (2001) has suggested that human needs to be able to adapt to the impacts of climate change and it is better to prepare for it beginning now. Different populations will respond differently to climate change depending on the severity of climate change to the regions these populations live in and the technological advancements that these populations possess.
Deforestation is among the major causes of climate change. There is a need for policies on national levels to plant more trees. The contractors who cut forests should be legally bound to plant at least 5 trees in the place on one tree they cut. Trees are a great source of absorbing carbon gases and producing oxygen.
There is also a need to create awareness about climate change. Many people still think that climate change and global warming are myths. They do not consider it to be a scientific reality, which in fact it is. An online advocacy is needed on social media and blogs to spread knowledge about climate change and convince people it is happening. Seminars and workshops could also be helpful in this regard.
I would like to conclude my discussion by pointing out to the fact that the change in habits of the humans can still minimize the disaster that are ahead of us due to climate change. Humans need to come together and reach out more agreements as they did in Paris in 2016 to bring a decrease in the emission of carbon. It may not be too late for us. The developed countries of the world should share more responsibility and play a leading role in increasing the capacity of the underdeveloped countries in responding to climate change in an efficient manner. This is our chance to leave a better world to our coming generations. Not a world that is less hospitable than it is now.
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