Global warming affects every one of us in so many ways

Sasi Kumar

It is termed a ‘heat apocalypse’. It is making the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the US and Europe difficult as the extreme heatwave pushes the temperature above 40 degrees Celsius. This type of extreme weather phenomenon has been escalating and endangering lives on our planet for years to come.

2021 had its share of extreme weather

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US found that the global temperatures (sea and surface) in 2021 were the sixth warmest on record.

During June and July last year, what climatologists called a ‘heat dome’ enveloped British Columbia (Canada) and the ensued record-setting temperatures killed about 600 people. This was recorded as one of the extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Wildfires ravaged the small town of Lytton in southern British Columbia, Canada, and destroyed everything in their path. The highest temperature recorded during the time was 49.6 degrees Celsius. This heat anomaly also affected neighbouring provinces of Canada and extended to the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

According to Yale Climate Connections resources (a nonpartisan group), in the year 2021, we endured extreme heat waves, hurricane Ida, catastrophic summer floods in Europe, and China, the coldest winter weather phenomenon in the southern, and the hottest summer temperatures in the northwestern parts of the US. The record temperature on the island of Sicily and the unprecedented, first-ever, rainfall on the snow-capped mountains of Greenland are examples of extreme climate activities.

Scientists have been aware of the effects of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, fluorinated gases, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere for a long time. Burning fossil fuels, clear-cutting forests for agriculture, industrial production of meat (factory farming), and other industrial developments produce greenhouse gases that make the earth warmer. The greenhouse gases may take years to dissipate from the atmosphere thus making the planet persistently warmer.

Whether we believe in the global warming phenomenon and the associated anomalies or not, be prepared for continued extreme climate events that affect our lives. Perhaps for climate change deniers and skeptics, it is a difficult fact to accept that climate change is a product of human activities.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), farm animals substantially contribute to water, land, and air pollution which impacts our environment. The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America says that the global agricultural and associated industries emit about one-third of global greenhouse gases. Thus, researchers and scientists have gathered substantial data to show that human activity is the main cause of climate change. Global warming is the cause of extreme weather events we have been experiencing in the past.

Disastrous weather continues into 2022

The climate disasters did not stop in 2021, it continues into 2022. Major climatic aberrations are occurring around the world as we speak. According to various reports, the following major climate events occurred in the year’s first half.

In 2022 January, a winter storm named Izzy paralyzed parts of the US. A snowstorm named Malik and Storm Nadia with her hurricane-force winds were responsible for major damages in Northern Europe and England. And torrential rains in parts of Malaysia in January brought out massive floods. In February unusual winter weather produced snow, sleet, and sub-zero temperatures in the northeast US. Then again, severe weather events were reported all across the world; cyclone Gombe in Mozambique, Tropical Storm Megi in the Philippines, and heat waves in Antarctica and India.

2022 March was the hottest month on record for India. Floods in Northwestern India and Bangladesh and the unusual weather events in the State of Kerala were caused by remarkably heavy rainfall that displaced about four million people. Looks like they could be precursors to our future weather patterns. Recently, the US state of Kentucky experienced heavy downpours and flash floods that left behind a trail of deaths and devastation. Wildfires, floods, and heatwaves are causing widespread destruction all across the globe.

Is global climate going to be any better in the future?

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, states, “Time is fast running out for us to avert the worst impacts of climate disruption and protect our societies from the inevitable impacts to come.”

Scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii have been measuring and compiling data on CO2 in the atmosphere for a long time. Their research shows that greenhouse gas emissions are going up since 1965 and that results in increases in the earth’s temperature, rainfall, sea levels, and extreme weather events.

Experts believe that climate calamities are not a one-time event and will continue. Our planet and its occupants are affected by the climate that is abnormally altered by none other than us, humans. Melting glaciers, cyclones, hurricanes, monsoon floods, landslides, dangerous lightning, volcanic eruptions, and extreme cold and heat phenomenon are going to continue. These wild climatic swings are disastrous to all living things and their habitats.

Climate change is detrimental to our health

Extreme weather changes affect our environment, our habitats, and our health. The impact on human lives will be in the forms of malnutrition, airborne and water-borne diseases, and heat-related illnesses thus escalating deaths and destruction and thus accumulating exponential healthcare costs.

A woman participates in a climate strike to protest against govt inaction towards climate breakdown and environmental pollution in Mumbai | File photo (AFP)

Researchers have established definite correlations between climate change and human health. Extreme heatwaves, damaging wildfires, floods, storm surges, rising sea levels, and sea temperatures create damaging weather events that make our lives on this planet difficult. It is been shown that climate change affects anything and everything that supports lives on this planet. Climate change affects our physical and mental health, well-being, and where and how we live. Climate affects our livelihood, health, life expectancies, and behaviours and as the climate continues to change, the risks to human health continue to rise.

The future looks promising...

UN says that our world is warming up, already 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer, and estimated to reach 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Such a scenario would be catastrophic to everything on this planet. Extremes of climate events always threaten our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Every aspect of our lives, animals, plants and the whole ecosystem is threatened by extreme climate changes.

UN recommends limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C to prevent climate change-related death and illnesses. Thus, controlling and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases can improve our environment and better the health and wellbeing of all the inhabitants of this planet.

Scientists believe that climate change is a reversible, slow process, thus slowing down the global warming phenomenon. Humans caused climate change by releasing greenhouse gases without concern. They believe it is possible to slow down or reverse the global warming process by reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. The process requires concerted and streamlined actions by nations and natives to keep global warming in check.

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