Effects of the climate crisis

We can already see the effects of the climate crisis across the globe: melting of the ice caps, shrinking glaciers, sea level rises, changes in precipitation patterns, intensification of extreme weather events: droughts, heat waves, storms and hurricanes. All these changes put more pressure on food production and fresh water supplies.

Global heating

Earth’s global surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to an analysis by NASA.

“The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for August 2019 was 0.92°C (1.66°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) and tied with 2015 and 2017 as the second highest August temperature departure from average since global records began in 1880. This value is 0.06°C (0.11°F) less than the record warm August set in 2016. Nine of the 10 highest August land and ocean surface temperatures have occurred since 2009, with the five warmest Augusts occurring since 2014. August 1998 is the only August from the 20th century to be among the 10 warmest Augusts on record.” [NOAA/NCEI global analysis accessed August 27, 2019]

Melting of the ice

Sea level rise

Due to ice melting the sea level across the world has risen. Sea level rise has already drowned multiple islands in the Pacific’s Solomon Islands. Villages are already being relocated and communities need to adapt to the changed conditions.

Pacific’s Solomon Islands
Source: 60 Minutes
Pacific’s Solomon Islands
Source: 60 Minutes

Extreme weather events

Extreme drought and water crisis

A water pump shed is seen in the dried-up portion of the Sabarmati river on a hot day on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India. Source: Amit Dave/Reuters

 
 Drought and water crisis in India, 2019. An Indian migrant shepherd kneels down among his dead sheep at a field in Ranagadh village, Surendranagar district.
Source: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

Forest fires

Forest Fire. Portugal. June 2017
Source: BBC. AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Forest Fire. Portugal. June 2017
Source: BBC. GETTY IMAGES

More intense hurricane & storms

Hurricane Katrina. 2005
Source: NASA
Hurricane Katrina. 2005
Source: USA Today

Floods

An actual example of how climate change influence our lives is the Desmond storm that hit Ireland in December 2015 causing extensive floods in areas from Donegal to Cork. West Ireland will have wetter winters and more of these extreme events:

According to the Leitrim Observer: “Up to 35mm of rain – nearly a third of what is normally recorded in December – is expected to fall on parts of Connacht, Donegal, Clare and Kerry into tomorrow, deepening the crisis for hundreds of homes.
In more rural areas thousands of acres of farmland was already under water with many people resigned to the fact of another flood in six years.
Councils in Clare, Limerick and Ballinasloe called in the Army to help with defences.
In Limerick seven pumps were in operation shifting water away from the villages of Castleconnell and Montpelier while an inflatable flood boom, which acts like movable defence wall, was being used to channel some of the floods.”

Biodiversity loss

Loss in biodiversity is also an effect of the climate crisis. Reduction in any species can affect an entire food chain, which can further reduce biodiversity overall. Humans are also part of the ecosystem, our activities affect it and we are also affected by changes in the system. Loss of biodiversity can have a major impact on our food supply, making it more vulnerable to pest and disease.

Ocean Acidification

“The ocean covers about 70 percent of Earth’s surface. The ocean plays a large part in Earth’s environment. One of its largest roles is to soak up energy (heat) and distribute it more evenly throughout the Earth. The ocean also helps to absorb Earth’s CO2.”(NASA)
Ocean acidification occurs through the absorption of CO2 from Earth’s atmosphere. About 30% of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by humans is absorbed into the ocean. This lowers the pH of the surface water levels and in turn, affects the ability of corals to produce calcium carbonate. Corals have one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet.

Source: Article “Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification” written by O. Hoegh-Guldberg, et al.

Mass migration and climate refugees

Because of increase in extreme weather patterns some areas of the globe will be more affected than others. In some areas there will be an increase in flooding, hurricanes, desertification, etc. All this extreme effects of the climate crisis can have a direct impact on food and water supply. This shortages can trigger armed conflict and mass migrations. Such problems are already believed to be the driving factor for the Syrian conflict.

Prediction of the zones mostly impacted by the climate crisis.