Taking action to help stop climate change and reduce its negative effects is not just about saving the Polar Bears. Climate change is an issue some STILL deny to be prevalent to this day, but the death tolls due to climate change are rising. According to the World Health Organization Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and other climate change related issues. Climate change affects not just environmental but social determinants of health, clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter (WHO).
So what is climate change exactly? Climate change in simple terms is a change in the Earth’s climate. This could be a change in Earth’s usual temperature or it could be a change in where rain and snow usually fall on Earth (NASA). Although this doesn’t sound like a big deal even a small changes in Earth’s temperature can have huge effects.
What causes climate change? We do! Yes, Climate change can occur naturally on earth over an extended period of time but humans are excelling it at a dangerous rate. A leading cause to climate change or global warming is the burning of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels like oil when we heat/ cool our houses or drive our cars lets out toxins into the air. Air pollutants coal plants let out into the environment include the major one, CO2 and additionally, Sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate matter (or fly ash) and Mercury (NCSUSA). Air pollutants released with the burning of fossil fuels can’t all be absorbed so this leads to the heating of the atmosphere.
Climate change can also lead to an increase in natural disasters and extreme weather. “The combined result of increased temperatures over land, decreased equator-versus-pole temperature differences, and increased humidity could be increasingly intense cycles of droughts and floods as more of a region’s precipitation falls in a single large storm rather than a series of small ones. A warmer, wetter atmosphere could also affect tropical storms (hurricanes)” Scientists believe over the next 100 years the earths temperature will continue to rise causing more than just the melting of the earths ice caps. This would cause more snow and ice to melt. Oceans water levels would rise. Some places would get hotter. Other places might have colder winters with more snow. Some places might get more rain. Other places might get less rain. Some places might have stronger hurricanes (NASA).
Climate change is also proven to make the problem of air pollution worse. Air pollution deaths are expected to rise because of climate change. New research predicts that air pollution worsened by climate change will cost tens of thousands of lives if changes are not made (CBS). Hotter temperatures “can speed up the reaction rate of air pollutants that form in the atmosphere,” lead study author Jason West states.
The direct damage costs to health due to climate change is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030 (NASA). All of these are factors that if happen people would need to be prepared for in order to stay safe. Areas with weak health infrastructure, mostly in developing countries, will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond. Essentially those of a lower socio-economic standing will have the most trouble with adapting and surviving to changes that climate change will cause. Yet this is the group of people we ask to be the most adaptable.
This brings up the discussion of how do we prepare and become resilient? How can we prepare for heat waves, hurricanes and other affects of global warming when many people in society do not even believe that the issue of global warming even exists. The term resilience means ones capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. But I don’t think the people wan to get used to an increase in death tolls due to climate change; so a progressive attitude in preparing for this extreme weather and motivation to stop contributing to making the driving causes of climate change worse. Now, I’m not saying the only solution is for everyone to build state of the art storm shelters for an apocalypse; but possibly a change in government spending and regulations when it comes to infrastructure. Using concrete that absorbs water more efficiently and other progressive attitudes in a change towards being more ready and resilient.
Dunbar, Brian. “What Is Climate Change?” NASA, NASA, 13 May 2015, http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-k4.html.
“Climate Change and Health.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/.
News, CBS. “Air Pollution Deaths Expected to Rise Because of Climate Change.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 31 July 2017, www.cbsnews.com/news/air-pollution-deaths-expected-to-rise-because-of-climate-change/.
“Coal Power: Air Pollution.” Union of Concerned Scientists, www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/coal-air-pollution#.WeO8YzZZREc.
“The Rising Cost of Natural Hazards : Feature Articles.” NASA, NASA, earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/RisingCost/rising_cost5.php.