Climate change refers to the global phenomenon known as climate transformation. It is characterized by changes in the climate (regarding temperature and precipitation) that are primarily caused by human activities. Climate change has both visible and invisible effects and impacts. Unbalancing the Earth’s weather is threatening the sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems, and also the stability of the global economic system.
Climate Change Effect and Impact
Global climate change could have future consequences such as more frequent wildfires and longer periods of drought in certain regions. There may also be an increase in the frequency, duration, and intensity of tropical storms. Global warming is already causing irreversible damage and will continue to do so in the future.
Already, the effects of global climate change have been observed on the environment. Glaciers are shrinking, rivers and lakes have less ice, animal and plant ranges have changed, and trees are blooming earlier. Global climate change is now causing the effects scientists predicted would occur in the past: sea ice loss, sea level rise acceleration, and longer, more intense heat wave.
Scientists are confident that global temperatures will rise over the next decade, due to increased greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is comprised of more than 1,300 scientists representing over 190 countries, predicts that temperatures will rise by 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century.
The IPCC states that the degree of climate change impacts on specific regions will vary with time and the ability of different social and environmental systems to adapt or mitigate the effects of the change. According to the IPCC, global average temperatures will rise by 1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1 to 3 degrees Celsius) from 1990. This will have beneficial effects in certain regions and negative impacts in others.
As global temperatures rise, the net annual cost of living will increase. The IPCC stated that “taken as a whole”, “The range of published evidence suggests that climate change’s net damage costs are likely to be substantial and will increase over time.” The global climate will continue to change in the coming century. The extent of climate change in the coming decades will depend on how much heat-trapping gases are emitted worldwide and how sensitive the Earth’s atmosphere to these emissions.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: The Temperatures will continue to rise
The human-caused warming is superimposed upon a naturally changing climate. This means that the temperature rise has not been uniform across the country and over time.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: The Growing Season and Frost-Free Season will extend
Since the 1980s, the length of the frost-free and corresponding growing seasons has increased across the country. The largest increases have been in the west, which has had a negative impact on agriculture and ecosystems. The growing season is expected to increase across the United States.
Heat-trapping gas emissions are expected to continue growing in the future. This means that there will be a significant increase in the length of frost-free and growing season by the end century in most of the United States. However, the Northern Great Plains will see a smaller increase. The western U.S. is projected to see the largest increase in frost-free seasons (more than 8 weeks), especially in coastal and high-elevation areas. These increases will be much smaller if heat-trapping gases emissions are decreased.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: Changes in precipitation patterns
The average U.S. precipitation has increased over the past century, although some areas have seen increases that exceed the national average and others have experienced decreases. Over the past century, the United States is expected to see more winter and spring precipitation, while the Southwest will see less.
Future climate projections for the U.S. indicate that the trend towards more heavy precipitation events is likely to continue. Even in areas where total precipitation is expected decrease, this trend is projected to continue.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: More Heat Waves and Droughts
The Southwest will experience more droughts and heat waves, which are periods of unusually hot weather that last days to weeks, while the rest of the world will see cold waves becoming less intense.
The summer temperatures are expected to rise and soil moisture will decrease, which can exacerbate heat waves. What were once-in-20-year events of extreme heat (one-day events), are expected to happen every two or three more years across most of the country by the end of this century.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: Hurricanes will become stronger and more intense
Since the 1980s, the intensity, duration, and frequency of North Atlantic hurricanes have all increased. These increases have been attributed to both natural and human causes. As the climate warms, hurricane-related storm intensity and rainfall rates will increase.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: Sea Level will rise 1-8 feet by 2100
Since 1880, when reliable records began to be kept, the global sea level has increased by approximately 8 inches. It is expected to rise by another 1-8 feet by 2100. This is due to the melting of land ice and the expansion caused by seawater warming.
Storm surges and high tides will combine with land subsidence and sea level rise to increase flooding in many areas over the next few decades. Because the oceans take a long time to adjust to warming conditions at the Earth’s crust, sea level rise will continue beyond 2100. The ocean waters will continue to warm, and sea level will continue rising for many centuries at rates that are equal or greater than the current century.
Climate Change Effect and Impact
Climate change impacts
Climate change is occurring. The global average temperature has risen by 1.8 degrees F between 1901 and 2016. Changes of just one to two degrees can lead to dangerous changes in climate and weather. These visible changes, which are easily observed, are called climate change effects. They are the tangible ways in which climate change is affecting Earth. Many places have seen changes in rainfall that has led to more flooding, droughts or intense rains as well as more severe heat waves.
Also, the planet’s oceans have seen changes: the oceans are becoming more acidic and warming, ice caps melting and sea levels rising. These and other changes will be more apparent in the next decades and they will pose challenges for our society as well as our environment.
Climate change has a negative impact on our economy, environment, health, and economic well-being. Take, for example:
- Higher temperatures can increase heat waves’ intensity and duration, which can pose a health risk, especially for children and seniors.
- The effects of climate change on human health include worsening of air and water quality, spreading certain diseases and changing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
- Rising sea levels pose a threat to coastal communities and ecosystems.
- Water supplies, water quality, and hydroelectricity production can be affected by changes in rainfall patterns.
- Changes in ecosystems can have an impact on the geographic ranges of many animal and plant species, as well as the timing of their lifecycle events such migration and reproduction.
- Increases in extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts and floods can cause property losses, disrupt society and lower the cost of insurance.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: Home damage
Floods are the most deadly and common natural disasters in America. Sea level rise and extreme weather will likely make them more severe. The century is expected to see heavy precipitation rise to three times its historical average. In 2018, a study revealed that more than 40 million Americans are at high risk from flooding from rivers and that 8.6 million live in areas where they could be affected by storm surges or hurricanes. FEMA estimates that homeowners could suffer almost $27,000 in damage from even a single inch of floodwater in a home of average size.
How can you protect yourself?
- To prevent floodwaters entering your home, apply sealants and coatings
- Install a sump-pump
- Clear your gutters.
- Elevate your home on piles or stilts if flooding is a regular occurrence
- Take out all dry vegetation from the area around your house
- opt for metal or tile when replacing your roof
- Evacuation warnings should be taken seriously. Have an emergency supply kit on hand.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: Higher premiums for home insurance
Insurance companies are increasing premiums to offset the large amounts they pay homeowners whose homes have been affected by climate change. Between 2005 and 2015, home insurance rates jumped more than 50%.High-risk areas may see premiums and deductibles rise. Coverage may be less extensive, which could lead to insurance becoming unaffordable for some. This is especially true in areas that are more vulnerable to climate change.
In Connecticut, homeowners have seen their insurance rates rise by 35 percent over the past 10 years. For homeowners who own property on the coast, rates are up by more than 50 percent. California insurance companies declined to renew more than 10,000 policies for homeowners living in high-risk areas. The state recently issued a one year moratorium that prevents insurers from dropping customers who live near wildfire-prone areas. Travelers Insurance Company requires separate deductibles for areas where tornadoes and hurricanes are more frequent.
How to protect yourself
- Climate risks should be considered when choosing a home.
- Learn about your insurance needs and coverage
- Compare insurance policies
- For lower monthly payments, raise your deductible
- Make your home more disaster-resistant
Climate Change Effect and Impact: It could be unbearable to work outdoors
Heat waves will continue to intensify due to global warming. The most adverse effects of rising temperatures will be felt by those who work outside, including construction workers, firefighters, miners and farmers. Florida has the highest number of heat-related hospitalizations in America. In Virginia, over 70% of heat-related hospitalizations occurred during the heat wave. The majority of heat-related emergency room visits were made by people between 29 and 40 years old. Excessive heat can also affect indoor workers at steel plants and warehouses.
How to protect yourself
- Make sure to take frequent shade breaks and drink water breaks
- Keep cool with a damp rag
- Wear light-colored clothes and a hat
- Learn the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion
Climate Change Effect and Impact: More blackouts and higher electric bills
People will need to keep cool as temperatures rise. Climate Central examined 244 U.S. cities and found that 93 percent of them experienced an increase in days that required additional cooling to stay comfortable. Electricity bills will rise as we become more dependent on fans and air conditioners.
An increased demand for electricity during peak times can cause brownouts and blackouts. Power outages can also be caused by extreme weather like hurricanes, heat waves, or snowstorms.
There was a tenfold increase in power outages between the mid-1980s & 2012, with 80 percent of these being caused by weather.
Pacific Gas & Electric shut down power in California to prevent wildfires. This year, millions lost power due to the blackouts. Pre-emptive blackouts may become more common.
If hydropower plants are unable to draw enough water from rivers and lakes or if the water is too warm to cool nuclear and coal power plants, brownouts and blackouts may also occur.
How to protect yourself
- Cool down in greener ways
- Set the temperature higher with a thermostat programmable by your thermostat
- Your appliances can be run at night
- If there is a blackout, fill your bathtub with water so that you can flush the toilets. Keep refrigerators and freezers closed.
- To avoid electrical surge damage, unplug electronics and appliances if the power goes out
- To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t install generators in garages or near windows.
Climate Change Effect and Impact: More allergies and other risks for your health
Warmer temperatures can make the pollen season longer and worsen the air quality. This can lead to more asthma attacks and allergy. Ground-level ozone is a major component in smog. It can cause symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness, pain, and worsen asthma.
Additionally, mold growth can be encouraged by damp buildings after storms or floods. This has been linked with allergies and other lung diseases.
As temperatures rise, more people will experience heat cramps, heat exhaustion and hyperthermia. This is because heat-related heat strokes can occur when the body’s ability regulates its temperature. The risk of stroke can be increased by prolonged heat exposure.
Mental health can be affected by heat waves and natural disasters. One recent California wildfire saw suicidal and traumatized individuals flood emergency rooms.
How to protect yourself
- Stay indoors if pollen counts or air quality are high
- Limit outside activity during heat waves.
- Keep hydrated
- Use insect repellent
- Take precautions and learn how climate impacts could affect your children
Climate Change Effect and Impact: The cost of food will rise and the variety of foods may be reduced
The USDA predicts that food prices will rise in the coming years by about 2.6 percent annually over the past 20 years. There are many reasons why food prices have risen, but climate change is the most important. Droughts and extreme weather can impact the price and stability of food and livestock.
New York’s apple farmers are, for instance, facing extreme weather and warmer winters that can wipe out their harvests. Although they are working to save their apples, new irrigation systems and wind turbines that blow warm air during cold spells are being used. However, these additional costs will eventually be reflected in apples’ prices.
Temperatures rising and more precipitation means that more pathogens thrive, which can affect plant health and cause more food spoilage. Because food is a commodity that can be traded worldwide, it is possible for climate events to raise prices or cause shortages in other regions. In Brazil, for example, the drought of 2013 and 2014 saw Arabica coffee prices double.
Three quarters of all crops depend on insects for pollination. Scientists believe that 41 percent of the remaining insect species are at risk of extinction. Climate change is also a major factor. Losing pollinators could lead to the loss of some crops and varieties that they pollinate.
How to protect yourself
- Cook at home more often to save money and avoid buying ready-made meals.
- Food waste is unacceptable
- Bulk Purchases
- Reduce your meat intake
Climate Change Effect and Impact: The water quality could be affected
Heavy precipitation and intense storms can cause water contamination. Runoff from cities can pick up pollutants and overflow the sewage systems, allowing untreated wastewater to enter water supplies.
Runoff from rural areas can transport animal waste, pesticides, and chemical fertilizer and enter drinking and recreational water supplies. Drinking water contaminated with pesticides and chemical fertilizer can lead to diarrhea, Legionnaires disease, and cholera. It can also cause skin, eye, and ear infections. Some low-lying areas along the coast could see saltwater entering groundwater supplies due to sea level rise. As water supplies drop, contaminants are more concentrated in areas that are suffering from drought. Algal blooms can also thrive in warm climates and can contaminate water.
How to protect yourself
- Do not use water that is suspected to be contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, prepare food, wash your hands, or make baby formula.
- Always have a bottle of water handy
- Reduce household water consumption, especially during droughts
- If your drinking water is found to have been contaminated, take the necessary precautions and boil it.