Human Induced Climate Change and Natural Disasters

It has already been proven that climate change is the cause of the recent surge of natural disasters. There are climate models that are used to predict the trend of natural disasters based on the rate of climate change in the past years (earthobservatory.nasa.gov). Each model does not agree on every detail, but do predict similar trends among them. The increasing emissions of greenhouse gases will raise the temperature globally. Effects and changes will vary from region to region though. Some possibilities are an increased risk in droughts, increase intensity of storms, tropical windstorms with higher speed, wetter Asian monsoons, and more intense mid latitude storms. One very recent and extremely destructive natural disaster are the wildfires in California. Across the United States this year, 58,000 wildfires have burned more than 9.2 million acres this year. 2017 is only second to 2015 as the worst wildfire season (Vox.com). In California alone, 1 Million acres and 10,000 structures have burned and 42 people have died. The Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has burned an area larger than New York City. Six of the ten largest wildfires occurred in California in the past decade. All of this damage has been caused by human induced climate change. Climate change can also have different effects on the wild life and plants that live in areas suffering from climate change. One example is the Pine Beetle found in California. They say the Pine Beetle has been kept in check due to harsh winters, but global warming has caused them to go on a rampage. This means that they start to destroy trees which causes more flammable material due to the higher abundance of dead trees (latimes.com). Sea levels are also on the rise as a negative effect of global warming. This increase in sea level also increases the risk in storm surges. Our two recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma were most likely a result of this. There is an interesting article that talks about the indirect costs of these natural disasters and the economic definition of resilience. The author says that “The welfare impact of a disaster does not depend only on the physical characteristics of the event or its direct impacts in terms of lost lives and assets. Depending on the ability of the economy to cope, recover, and reconstruct, the reconstruction will be more or less difficult, and the welfare effects smaller or larger. This ability, which can be referred to as the macroeconomic resilience of the economy to natural disasters, is an important parameter to estimate the overall vulnerability of a population.” (Documents.wordbank.org). They say that resilience can be broken down into two components; instantaneous resilience and dynamic resilience. Instantaneous resilience is the ability to limit the magnitude of the immediate loss of income for a given amount of capital losses. Dynamic resilience is the ability to reconstruct and recover quickly. The paper also proposes a way to estimate macroeconomic resilience based on the interest rate, reconstruction duration, and a ripple-effect factor that increases or decreases immediate losses. I think this is a very interesting way to define and calculate resilience through economic concepts. It also makes sense as the article uses reconstruction duration and includes factors that can increase and decrease immediate losses. Based on these results, a risk management strategy can be devised to reduce impacts and indirect impacts. An article that was just written 6 days ago says that the next climate change meeting in Paris, the One Planet Summit, will focus on the economics of climate change(independent.co.uk). This is very beneficial because topics like resilience and the negative externalities associated with climate change such as the increased surges of natural disasters may be huge discussion points. The article also shows that Soenke Kreft, leader of the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative at the United Nations University, also agrees that the recent surges of natural disasters are heavily linked to climate change. He said “understanding the links between natural disasters and climate change was important, as it can play a role in convincing policymakers and citizens of the threat posed by climate change and encouraging them to take action”. Climate change is a very serious threat that affects all humans worldwide. It may not have extremely harmful direct effects on us, but the indirect effects of climate change can be very deadly to humans. This is why humans should take the initiative to reduce climate change and be more mindful of the effects we are having on the environment.

Sources used:

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/12/12/16762120/los-angeles-california-fire-climate-change

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-climate-change-natural-disasters-20170907-htmlstory.html

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/RisingCost/rising_cost5.php

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-natural-disasters-link-increase-global-warming-report-warning-a8103556.html

http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/186631467998501319/The-indirect-cost-of-natural-disasters-and-an-economic-definition-of-macroeconomic-resilience

 

 

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