Impacts of Climate Change
The climate change issue has become one of major concern to the human race especially in the recent decades. A host of experts from different fields have indulged in rigorous scientific studies in an attempt to yield lasting solutions in the face of the imminent danger posed by climate change to mother earth. In light of this, this paper seeks to analyze the cause and impacts of climate change through a review of various literature.
Climate change is by and large attributed to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (“Climate change,” n.d.). One such gas is carbon dioxide whose rate of emission into the atmosphere as from 2002-2007 according to a research report by a group of experts was 35 per cent more than permitted by specified climate change models. Professor Nicholas Owens of the British Antarctic Survey labeled prior climate change predictions as unduly optimistic in the wake of these results (“Carbon pollution accelerates,” 2007). The same report suggested that the global efforts to reduce this gas needed to be more extensive. Corinne Le Quere, a researcher with BAS, noted that the 2007 February forecast by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that the world temperatures would rise by a mere 6.4C in the next hundred years was a definite understatement. She said, “It’s rather scary and the IPCC scenarios are, therefore, rather too optimistic- as if they weren’t bleak enough already” (“Carbon pollution accelerates,” 2007). BAS accounted for the 35 per cent increase by attributing it to two factors. Firstly, the efficacy of forests and seas, otherwise known as natural “sinks” to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere had dropped causing an 18 per cent rise. Secondly, the inefficient use of fuels had increased leading to the remaining 17 per cent increase (“Carbon pollution accelerates,” 2007).
Dr, William Gray, a veteran in seasonal hurricane forecast, during a lecture at UNC Charlotte, disputed Al Gore’s claims that human beings are to blame for global warming (“Gore’s climate theory,” 2007). Apparently, on the same day that Dr. William was giving his lecture, Al Gore was being awarded with a Nobel Prize for his role in establishing a human connection to global warming. William laments, “They’re going to the Gore movie (An Inconvenient Truth) and being fed all this. It’s ridiculous.” According to Dr. William, global warming indeed has taken place. However, unlike Al Gore, he states that this is a result of a natural ocean water temperature cycle that is associated with the quantities of salt contained in ocean water and not human related (“Gore’s climate theory,” 2007). He notes that a after this, a global cooling period will follow lasting for a couple of years. He further disabused the claim that global warming has led to an increase in hurricanes citing statistics from history when the earth was cooler in relation to the present warm condition. He concluded his lecture by asserting that, “The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures” (“Gore’s climate theory,” 2007).
In 2009, scientists surrounded a warning that the growth rate of the biggest corals situated on the Great Barrier Reef had since 1990 decreased by 14 per cent (Cairns Post, 2010). This warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears as the government in Australia has taken no action leaving people to hope that something will be done before it is too late. The economy of Cairns is dependent on the Great Barrier Reef to cash in millions of dollars through tourism. The reef contributes approximately 5.4 billion dollars into the economy of the country. Dr. Veron however states that there is a greater loss to be suffered besides loss of millions of money if the federal government slacks in taking action. This, Dr. Veron attributes to the irreversible nature of the process in the current lifetime (Cairns Post, 2010). Several individual strategies have been suggested to help reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. These include; turning of bulbs that are not in use and considering other transportation means that will ensure less fuel emissions (Cairns Post, 2010).
In a study conducted by National Academics, findings indicated that would have huge impacts not only on transportation infrastructure, but transport operations as well. Experts have stated that the implementation of infrastructure will be affected by the unusually heavy storms causing the costs of such projects to escalate. The extreme weather conditions experienced today are causing endless worries about the ability of previous engineering models being able to counter the magnitude of the current weather conditions. It is in record that after Hurricane Katrina; more than fifty bridges have failed. The rapid development taking place at the coastal region calls for an increase in infrastructure in terms of bridges and highways and local living zones. These steps will not only increase the impermeable surface area, but also lead to higher water surface runoff. The floods resulting from climate change will be instrumental in causing soil erosion. In addition, it is stated that, “Loss of wetlands and reduced grass buffer zone will decrease the nature filtration ability such as less nitrate and phosphate pollutant absorption.”
Didur (as cited in “Climate change,” n.d.), analyzes the impacts of climate change from an agricultural perspective. He states that global warming will influence key agriculture components such as carbon dioxide, temperature, precipitation as well as the interaction of the three. He asserts that in third world nations where agriculture is characterized by low technology and is a major contributor to the economies, climate change could result in disasters. This is because due to climatic conditions such as floods, erratic rainfall or even droughts would prevail leading to a dilapidated economy and many social problems (“Climate change,” n.d). In studies to investigate the growth of crops, scientists discovered that the crop cycle is strictly associated with temperature. An increase in temperatures shortens the period between sowing and harvesting. This shortening could have an adverse impact on productivity as senescence would take place earlier (“Climate change,” n.d). Glaciers and snow will also melt at a higher rate posing a danger to the security of food. Different adaptation methods have been suggested in order for people to counter the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture. These include a change in; location, irrigation, types of crops, fertilizer in use as well as the infrastructure (“Climate change,” n.d).
The reality of climate change poses great threats to various aspects of human life including his social and economic endeavors. Current climate change impacts are an indication that things will only get worse in the future if efforts to counter it are not heightened. The studies that have been carried out in an attempt to find lasting solutions indicate that government policies also have a role to play in these efforts. Climate change is a universal problem that indeed presents a looming danger to humanity.
Anon, “Carbon pollution accelerates”, The Courier Mail. 23 October 2007.
Anon. “Gore’s climate theory savaged”, The Courier Mail. 13th October 2007
Cairns Post, “Acidification Effects Huge”, Thursday, June 10, 2010, Retrieved 15 Sep 2012 <http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2010/06/10/113511_local-news.html>.
“Climate change”, JCU