understand the risks
Climate Change Risk Centre
We have listed some of the major risks to the planet if we, as human beings, fail to address climate change. There are some much higher authority sources than us out there on this sort of thing, such as the UNFCCC and the IPCC, however we think it’s important the information is spread as far and wide as possible.
1. Rising Temperatures
Increased global temperatures can lead to heatwaves and extreme heat events, putting human health at risk. Heat-related illnesses, dehydration, and even death become more likely, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions. 2023 has seen extreme heatwaves in USA, Europe and China during the Northern Hemisphere summer – a reported 61,000 people died in Europe alone due to the heatwaves.
2. Sea Level Rise
As polar ice melts and seawater expands due to warmer temperatures, sea levels rise. This can lead to coastal flooding, erosion, and the displacement of millions of people living in low-lying areas, including major cities. In the United States, New Orleans and Miami will be most at risk.
3. Extreme Weather
As we’ve seen extensively in the early 2020’s, extreme weather events are on the rise, both in terms of frequency and severity. This includes hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, floods, droughts and severe storms. These events can cause widespread destruction, loss of life, and damage to infrastructure, particularly in developing countries. You can expect to see many more in years to come, unless we do something about climate change.
4. Water Scarcity
Water, our most precious resource, may actually become quite scarce in certain regions for a number of reasons. Sea level rises in coastal areas will salinate fresh water sources. Increased floods and storms will drop more water than soil and vegetation can absorb, meaning the runoff flows into waterways such as freshwater lakes. Pesticides and fertilisers picked up along the way will cause algae to bloom, further affecting fresh water bodies. Overall changes in precipitation patterns can lead to droughts in some regions and increased rainfall in others, disrupting water availability. Water scarcity affects agriculture, ecosystems, and human populations, leading to food insecurity and conflict over resources.
5. Disrupted Ecosystems & Species Extinctions
Many plant and animal species are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and habitat. Global warming can lead to shifts in ecosystems, threatening biodiversity, and potentially causing the extinction of numerous species.
6. Food Security
Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and more frequent extreme weather events can negatively impact crop yields and disrupt food production. This can lead to higher food prices, food shortages, and malnutrition.
7. Health Risks
Climate change can exacerbate the spread of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever as warmer temperatures expand the habitats of disease-carrying organisms. Additionally, heatwaves, air pollution, and water contamination can increase the prevalence of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
8. Displacement and Migration
Sea level rise, extreme weather events, and degraded ecosystems can force communities to migrate, both internally and across borders. This can lead to conflicts and humanitarian crises as resources become strained.
9. Economic Impacts
The cumulative effects of global warming, including property damage, reduced agricultural productivity, and increased healthcare costs, can significantly strain economies, leading to job losses and economic instability.
10. Infrastructure Vulnerability
Roads, bridges, buildings, and other critical infrastructure are designed based on historical climate conditions. As these conditions change, infrastructure becomes more vulnerable to damage from extreme weather events, putting safety and economic stability at risk.
11. Ocean Acidification
Increased carbon dioxide levels lead to higher levels of carbonic acid in oceans, causing ocean acidification. This threatens marine life, particularly coral reefs and shellfish, which rely on calcium carbonate to build their shells and skeletons.
12. Feedback Loops
Warming can trigger feedback loops that exacerbate the problem, such as the release of methane from thawing permafrost or the reduction of reflective ice surfaces, which further amplify temperature increases.
Addressing these risks requires a concerted global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to renewable energy sources, and implement adaptation strategies to minimise the impacts of global warming.
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