You may have recently seen or heard about an IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report stating that unless we stop carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, we will not be able to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change, or overall warming of two degrees Celsius or more. But what does that mean? Two degrees might sound like a small change in overall global temperature, but that number is a metric that represents all sorts of other events that are related to climate change and the overall increase in global temperature.
In a world that is overall two degrees Celsius warmer, we will very likely see heatwaves that last one and a half months, decreases of up to 16% in production of major crops like wheat and rice, and a 17% decrease in freshwater availability. These are not the only ramifications of climate change, check out the link below to see more of the effects:
But what does all of this mean? Will this affect our daily lives?
Let’s take that 16% reduction in wheat crops. Wheat is a huge food source for Americans. It is the base of cereals, breads, cakes, and pasta, among other things. Perhaps we won’t see dramatic reduction or rationing of these goods, but they will become more expensive. This is true of other crops, not just the big staples. Chocolate, coffee, and certain types of wine are also threatened by our changing climate.
Heat waves that last one and a half months means it will be dangerous to spend prolonged periods outside for these six weeks. Construction workers will have to take longer midday breaks, or maybe even take days off, for their own health and safety. Children will not be able to play outside as much as they may want to, which means that summer camps will have to revisit how they schedule their days. Your air conditioning bill will go up, because you’ll probably have to use it longer; and people who can’t afford air conditioning, especially elderly people and small children, will become more susceptible to heat related illness or even death.
Finally, a reduction in freshwater availability will affect international relations, causing tension and perhaps even war in countries with water shortages. Water is a necessity for cleaning, bathing, for life itself. As already unstable countries in the Middle East such as Yemen, Libya, and Jordan face water scarcity, it is highly likely that they will engage in warfare to gain access to water. It is estimated that by 2025, 50% of the world will be experiencing water scarcity. This will lead to a great deal of unrest and conflict on our planet.
This is a dire situation for our planet, but that is no reason to give up. There are individual actions that you can take to combat climate change, and these are important. It is also important to drive the economy towards lower carbon emissions. Many power companies offer renewable energy sources, it’s easy to make use of them. Shop local, and do your best to shop with companies committed to a greener planet. Finally, and most importantly: urge your senators, congresspeople, or even local authorities to support decarbonization and legislation that will help reduce our carbon footprint and save our planet.
©2018 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
Image - https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
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