Climate change can be defined as the large-scale, long-standing change in the weather patterns of the planet or its average temperatures. Since the last ice age, which terminated approximately 11,000 years ago, the climate of Earth has been comparatively constant at about 14 °C, but in the current years, the has been augmented. Thus, climate change is an alteration in the characteristic or average weather of city of the region. This could be a shift in the average yearly rainfall of the region, or could be a shift in the average temperature of the city for a specific month or season (Tol, 2009).
Climate change is also the shift in the overall climate of the planet, including changes in its average temperature and usual precipitation patterns of the Earth. Climate change is an environmental issue of fundamental concern considering the fact that it increases the temperature, alters the rainfall patterns (decreasing rainfall in summer and in increasing in winter), shifts the season, raise the sea level, retreats the glaciers (Smith & Matthews, 2015). The above image 1 presented by NASA clearly shows the climate change.
Climate change, along with other natural and human-made health stressors, impacts human health in a lot of ways. In the U.S., the public health can be impacted by the disturbances of biological, physical, and ecological procedures, including turbulences originating in the country and somewhere else. The health impacts of these turbulences comprise of high respiratory and cardiovascular disease, premature deaths due to intense weather events, injuries, and alterations in the occurrence and geographical division of food- and water-borne sickness as well as other infectious diseases, and danger to mental health (Fernando & McCulley, 2012). The below mentioned image depicts the different impact of climate change on human health.
It is noteworthy that climate has a direct impact on people’s health and if the entire climate gets warmer, then the health problems will also increase. It is likely that there will be a rise in the number of deaths because of higher frequency and the ruthlessness of heat waves and other tremendous weather events. The elderly people, children and people suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases will likely to get affected by such weather intensities because they have minor coping ability. A tremendous rise in the temperature will impact people residing in the urban areas as compared to people living in rural areas (Krauss, 2007).
This is because of the ‘heat islands’ that expand here due to the existence of concrete constructions, cemented and tarred roads. Higher temperatures in urban areas would lead to a rise in the ground-level focus of ozone by this means the rising the air pollution problems and related health problems. Climate change acts as a driver of disease movement, and at the same time, make the health effects worse resulting from the discharge of toxic air pollutants in susceptible populations. Furthermore, climate change can impact human health by decreasing the availability of fresh food and water, breaking off communication, effectiveness, and health care services contributing to carbon monoxide toxin used at the time of storms and afterwards (Krauss, 2007).
It can also enhance stomach and intestinal sickness among evacuees. However, it not only impacts the physical health, but mental health too by leading to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among people who have witnessed any natural disaster. Climate change because of the discharge of harmful gases can hurt lung tissue and diminish lung function. This can also enhance increase respiratory diseases and exacerbate asthma or other lung related diseases (Ruth & Ibarraran, 2009).
Extreme cold weather conditions are also hazardous to human health as it can also cause some severe diseases such as hypothermia and frostbite and these diseases can even cause deaths. Extreme weather conditions are also affecting several environmental factors such as excessive rains which can cause flood and can snatch life and property of many individuals. Global climate change has become more severe and perilous environmental concern in the modern era. Many kinds of natural disasters are occurring due to severe climate conditions which are impacting the health of humans badly (Ruth & Ibarraran, 2009).
Climate change is not only an environmental issue, but is a social issue, as well because of its wide social impact. It is vital to state that small farmers are by now struggling to receive a fair price for their offerings, preserve alongside weather & pests, and fight with large-scale monoculture agricultural arrangements to survive in business. However, climate change will make the matter poorer for farmers because of a change in climate and agricultural zones, alterations in production patterns and more intense and altering precipitation patterns, all of this threaten crops. Such turmoil is capable of taking away families’ livelihoods and prime income source and will impact communities who rely on fruit selling (Smith & Matthews, 2015).
Climatic change also impacts water sufficiency as the water gets infected due to natural disasters and pollution, which results in the evolution of several diseases. It also impacts the standard of living of people as their personal lives and jobs are on threat due to frequent climate changes. The below image 3, shows the increment in sea level due to the effects of climate change as the sea level have risen considerably in the last few years. It is notable that a rise in sea level occurs mainly due to two factors linked with global warming. They are the increased water, which comes from the land ice melting and the enlargement of sea water as it gets warmer. The chart mentioned below tracks the movements in the sea level since 1993 till 2013 as noticed by satellites.
Besides this, developing countries that are not much responsible for the increment of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are tend to suffer the most as they are already struggling with lack of technological and financial resources. In addition to this, they have to cope up with the major consequences of climate change and as a result, developing countries are needed to spend public funds to increase irrigation activities and to overcome the losses due to climatic change instead of educational purpose. In a nutshell, these developing countries are required to struggle more to come in the list of developed countries and it will ultimately affect the social life of individuals. Therefore, it is evident that climate conditions and changes impact the social factors of society (Yohe & Michael, 2002).
The key economic impact of climate change is the damage that occurs to property and infrastructure whenever any natural disaster takes place. With the rise of sea-level, floods, wildfires, droughts, and the tremendous the need for wide-ranging repair increases of necessary infrastructure, like homes, bridges, roads, airport runways, power lines, levees, dams, and seawalls. It is noteworthy that when the Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US as well as the Caribbean in the year 2012 it showed up millions of people and billions of dollar value of economic assets to the kinds of hazards that might be anticipated due to increase because of climate change (Wilson, et al., 2004).
An approximate 1.8 million structures and homes got shattered or damaged, and the total economic losses were more than $65 billion. Climate change has serious economic impact because the different businesses in the economy, which in turn results in the slow economic development due to too many losses. For instance, the hurricane Sandy negatively affected the tourism business and caused losses of above $1 billion and 10,000 jobs along with and small- and medium-scale built-up and storage.
Moreover, retailers, like clothing firm, Eileen Fisher, completely lost its inventory when Sandy flooded the warehouses in the country and disturbed the supply chains. This makes it clear that climate change is not only harmful for the society and heath, but it seriously impacts the whole economy (Liverman & Glasmeierapr, 2014). The below mentioned chart shows that in the year 2014 there were 8 climates and weather tragedy happenings, which caused losses of more than $1 billion each across the country.
These events comprise of a drought event, 5 rigorous storm events, a flooding happening, and a winter storm incident. On the whole, these incidents caused deaths of approximately 53 people and had noteworthy economic effects on the impacted areas. However, this data is still limited as further cost data and figures for each event will be announced in the mid of 2015, and thus, it is apparent that the economic impact of climate change is also tremendous.
Image 4: Climate Disaster (Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/)
Another major economic impact of climate change is that disturbances in daily life linked with climate change means loss of work and school days and impact on transportation, trade, agriculture, energy production, fisheries, and tourism. Relentless rainfall happenings and snowstorms can hinder planting and harvesting, result of power outages, grumble traffic, hold-up air travel, and otherwise make it complicated for people to go on usual business, which eventually impacts the economy of the country. In addition, not only climate change, but climate-linked health risks also diminish the productivity, such as when tremendous heat restricts construction, or when more powerful allergies and air pollution cause to work loss (Wilson, et al., 2004).
Global warming, which is the major cause of climate change is probable to augment the number of “climate refugees: i.e. the individuals who are forced to go away from their homes either due to drought, flooding, or due to other climate change disasters. Mass movements of individuals along with social disruption can cause civil turbulence and might also encourage military interference and other unintentional effects. It is considerable that not only the economic impact of climate change disasters at the time is serious, but the afterwards impact is fundamental too (Yohe & Michael, 2002).
This is because reconstruction after disasters hit is likely to prove even more expensive as compared to the preventive measures taken during the disasters. The economic impact of climate change on agriculture is noticeable, which gets heavily affected by it. Although, warm weather, high carbon dioxide and nitrogen might increase the yield of some crops, but higher ozone and harsh weather, at the time of planting and harvest seasons, could diminish productivity (Smith & Matthews, 2015).
Climate changes have also impacted the world politically as many countries are struggling to strengthen the economy of their country which takes the government into vulnerable positions as countries are lacking their economical structure due to frequent climatic changes. The effects of climate change are easily visible in many parts of the world and in this regard, constant rise in mean temperatures is inevitable and these aspects are impacting the political agendas of many countries in the world. Besides this, climate change also affects the world through contaminated water, food, fisheries and agriculture. The climate disturbance has resulted in the increased rain in winter and increased evaporation in summer is impacting the agricultural activities which will ultimately impact the political and economical aspects of the world (Mearns & Norton, 2010).
Climate change is the most serious public health threats that our world is facing in this era which is affecting the individual’s health as well as the political and social elements of the world economy. In this regard, The US Defense Department’s Quadrennial Review (2010) states that “Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.” As a result, this mass migration will affect the political status of the country which will also place the national security of the nation at risk. It is evident from the above mentioned data that the political stability of the world is at risk. For instance, as a result of intense warming; more evaporation occurs, which causes the chances of regional droughts and theses drought impact the agricultural aspects and government has to suffer from heavy loss. Besides this, precipitation increases due to the effects of warming, which causes underbrush to grow that gets dry during the summer season, which causes wild fires and this impact the world politically (Wilson, et al., 2004).
On the other hand, climate change cause floods, severe droughts, destruction of infrastructure and water and food insecurity and these incidents are giving rise to economic shocks and political stress such as armed conflict and other tensions. These political tensions enhance the vulnerability of some particular regions such as coastal areas and other regions near islands (Yohe & Michael, 2002).
As mentioned from the above discussion, the climate change is critical and needs to be controlled as soon as possible considering its serious impacts. The term mitigation indicates the efforts to cut or put off the emission of greenhouse gases, restricting the extent of future warming in order to control climate change. It is notable that mitigating climate change needs novel technologies, clean energy sources, transformed people’s behavior, or more energy efficient older technology (Zhang, et al., 2007).
It is considerable that shifting to low-carbon energy sources, like wind power, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal or nuclear corresponds to one of the chief strategies for bringing down the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Yamaguchi, 2012). As per BBC News (2014) figures from the UN have demonstrated that renewable energy increased its share of complete energy generation in 2013 from 7.8% to 8.5%, however the investment decreased by 14%. These technologies are still facing barriers linked to capital costs, public perception, financing, and a long-lasting reliance of markets and companies on fossil fuels.
In addition, greening the urban regions can also be helpful as cities are residence for almost half of the population on the planet, and are also liable for three-quarters of energy utilization and 80% of carbon discharges. Retro-fitting structures to make them more energy competent and decreasing the effect of transport discharges signify some of the strategies for performing this (Yamaguchi, 2012). Dealing with waste is another vital issue as almost 11.2 billion metric tons of solid waste is being amassed from the whole world each year, and the organic portion that decomposes is contributing almost 5% of international greenhouse gas emissions (BBC News, 2014). Its impact can be reduced by generating less waste and recycling and treating waste in a manner that it becomes less harmful for the environment or utilizing it as a sustainable energy fuel source (Sumi, Fukushi & Hiramatsu, 2010).
Other options include using fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrid vehicles; diesel efficient vehicles, bio-fuels; non fuel transport (cycling, walking); and advanced electric cars with ore strong batteries to reduce the climate impact of these vehicles. A forestation, reduced deforestation; utilization of forestry products for bio-energy to reinstate fossil fuel exploitation can also prove to be helpful (Yamaguchi, 2012). Moreover, to stop climate change and save the natural environment, it is necessary that both government and people at individual level should work. People should try to bring change in their behavior towards the nature and make best possible attempts to engage in sustainable activities. On the other hand, government should levy taxes and subsidies on companies exploiting the nature too much and not using environmental friendly business processes (Smith & Matthews, 2015).
Climate change and its impact on the environment, economies and people security, is the imperative issue of the current era. However, every day of inactivity makes the impact of this environmental issue more irreparable, and thus, it is highly essential that everyone should act now. If climate change cannot be avoided completely, efforts can be made to mitigate at the best extent possible. It is assent that people should act immediately for avoiding an unalterable build-up of greenhouse gases and global warming at a probably massive cost to the society and the economy worldwide.
In light of the above discussion, it is apparent that climate change is a serious environmental issue, which needs to be addressed quickly. No single technology can offer all of the mitigation prospective in any specific sector. The economic mitigation prospective, which is usually higher than the market mitigation prospective, can be attained, when sufficient policies are in place and obstacles are eradicated. It is considerable that energy sector, transport sector, construction sector, manufacturing and general people all have to work together, hand in hand for the purpose of mitigating the impact of climate change on the environment.
BBC News. (2014). What is climate change mitigation? What Are the Economic Consequences of Climate Change? Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26980837
Fernando, H. & McCulley, J.L. 2012. National Security and Human Health Implications of Climate Change. USA: Springer Science & Business Media.
Krauss, S. (2007). Climate Change – Impacts on Human and Ecological Health in Germany. GRIN Verlag.
Liverman, D., & Glasmeierapr, A. (2014). What Are the Economic Consequences of Climate Change?. Retrieved from: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/04/the-economic-case-for-acting-on-climate-change/360995/
Mearns, R. & Norton, A. (2010). Social Dimensions of Climate Change: Equity and Vulnerability in a Warming World. World Bank Publications.
Ruth, M. & Ibarraran, E. (2009). Distributional Impacts of Climate Change and Disasters: Concepts and Cases. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Smith, A., & Matthews, J. (2015). Quantifying Uncertainty and Variable Sensitivity within the U.S. Billion-dollar Weather and Climate Disaster Cost Estimates. Natural Hazards.
Sumi, A., Fukushi, K. & Hiramatsu, A. (2010). Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies for Climate Change. Springer Science & Business Media.
Tol, R.S.J. (2009). The Economic Effects of Climate Change. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23 (2) 29–51.
Wilson, K. J., John, F., Humfrey, M. & Roger, A. A. (2004). Shipping in the Canadian Arctic: Other Possible Climate Change Scenarios. Proceedings. IEEE International, 3, 1853–56.
Yamaguchi, M. (2012). Climate Change Mitigation: A Balanced Approach to Climate Change. Springer Science & Business Media
Yohe, G. W. & Michael, E. S. (2002). The Economic Geography of the Impacts of Climate Change. Journal of Economic Geography, 2(3): 311–41.
Yohe, G. W. & Richard, S. J. T. (2002). Indicators for Social and Economic Coping Capacity—Moving Towards a Working Definition of Adaptive Capacity. Global Environmental Change, 12(1): 25–40.