Climate change is a serious threat

By Abigail Pleiman - Guest columnist

Climate change is not a new topic. The IPCC report on climate change states that “The concentration [of greenhouse gasses] have been rising steadily, and mean global temperatures along with it, since the time of the Industrial Revolution.” Climate change is mentioned in the news everyday, and there is a new conspiracy theory rising about it constantly. So the question becomes, why aren’t more people taking this seriously? The globe’s increasing temperatures already have and will continue to have disastrous effects on our planet. What more evidence do we need to show people of these effects before they start taking action? If we don’t act now, rising temperatures will increase our magnitude of extreme weather, ruin economies, and threaten lives.

The climate change alters characteristics of the atmosphere that affect weather patterns and storms. According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880. This number may seem small but water has an extremely high specific heat, so in order for the ocean to warm any amount, it must be exposed to dangerous heat levels. Because of these rises in temperatures, the weather patterns have changed. According to Extreme Weather National Climate Assessment, changes in extreme weather and climate events, such as heat waves and droughts, are the primary way that most people experience climate change. Human-induced climate change has already increased the number and strength of some of these extreme events.

Higher temperatures cause the rate of evaporation to increase, this includes more loss of moisture through plant leaves. This can lead to more rapid drying of soils, causing droughts all over. According to the University of Melbourne, recent Australian droughts may be the worst in over 800 years. In addition to droughts, the polar opposite is also happening because of climate change. According to Extreme Weather National Climate Assessment, the amount of heavy rainfall has been significantly above average. This increase has affected more of the Northeast, the Midwest, and upper Great Plains regions.There has also been an increase in flooding events in these regions. This is because warmer air can contain more water vapor than cooler air. Global analyses show that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has increased due to human-caused warming.

Another major effect of climate change is hurricanes, which have been happening more frequently. According to the National Climate Assessment, recent increases in activity are linked to higher sea surface temperatures, because of melting glaciers. According to the CNN library, as of June 5, 2019, between 1851 and 2017 there have been 91 major hurricanes. A major hurricane is considered categories three, four, and five. The damage that all these extreme weather cases have caused, has put a strain on our economy.

You may not realize it, but climate change has altered our economy immensely. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, published in 2018, warned that climate change could seriously disrupt the U.S. economy. It has the power to damage property and critical infrastructure, impact human health, and productivity. In addition to that, the demand for energy will increase as fossil fuels burn up. Damage to other countries around the globe will also affect U.S. business through disruption in trade and supply chains. We are already seeing the economic impacts of the changing climate. According to Morgan Stanley, climate disasters have cost North America $415 billion in the last three years, much of that is due to infrastructure damage caused by wildfires and hurricanes. Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance firm, blamed climate change for $24 billion of losses in the California wildfires. It warned that insurance firms will have to raise premiums to cover rising costs from extreme weather. That could make insurance too expensive for most people.

Scientists estimated that if temperatures only rise 2 C, global gross domestic product will fall 15%. If temperatures rise to 3 C, global GDP will fall 25%. If nothing is done, temperatures will rise to 4 C, and global GDP will decline by more than 30% from 2010 levels. That’s worse than the Great Depression, where global trade fell 25%. The only difference is that it would be permanent. In addition to that, World Employment and Social Outlook in 2018 estimated that climate change threatens around 1.2 billion jobs. The industries at risk the most include agriculture, fisheries, and forestry. Natural disasters have already cost 23 million working life years since 2000. On the other hand, efforts to stop climate change would create 24 million new jobs by 2030.2122. Economically speaking, it is better for us to fight climate change, and help stop its effects rather than to sit around and do nothing. If we do nothing, we are all in danger.

Climate change puts our lives at risk. Climate change can cause chronic and contagious disease, worsen food and water shortages, increase the risk of pandemics, and aggravate mass displacement. The dangerous health effects of climate change begin with black carbon, methane, and nitrogen oxides which are the driving forces behind global warming. These gases along with other air pollutants such as carbon monoxide and ozone, are responsible for over seven million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization. Climate change also compounds the threat of communicable diseases. Increased rainfall and higher temperatures favor vector-borne diseases, those caused by parasites, and viruses. They also favor bacteria transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and fleas. Rising sea levels and increased ocean acidification will also reduce fishing and aquaculture, aggravating malnutrition and food insecurity.

The CO2 emissions accumulating in our atmosphere is physically changing the composition of fruits and vegetables that we eat, and making them less nutritious. Extra CO2 is also speeding up the process of photosynthesis, which is causing plants to grow with more sugar and less calcium, protein, zinc, and important vitamins. According to Harvard researchers, if we don’t reduce carbon emissions right now, this could become a huge problem for our diets. By the middle of the century about 175 million more people could develop a zinc deficiency and 122 million people could become protein deficient as a result of these changes to plants.

Climate Change is a serious threat to the globe. If we don’t act now, rising temperatures will increase our magnitude of extreme weather, ruin economies, and threaten lives. These things have already begun to happen, and will continue. Climate change has disastrous effects on our planet, and we need to do everything we can to keep our home alive and healthy.

By Abigail Pleiman

Guest columnist

The writer is a resident of Anna and a junior at Anna High School, and attends Edison State Community College full time studying communications. One of her class assignments was to write an option/editorial. She plans to one day become a pastor.

The writer is a resident of Anna and a junior at Anna High School, and attends Edison State Community College full time studying communications. One of her class assignments was to write an option/editorial. She plans to one day become a pastor.