Multiple Climate Hazards Are Unavoidable Within The Next Two Decades

photo of brown bare tree on brown surface during daytime

Multiple climate hazards are unavoidable within the next two decades, according to previous research from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa published in Nature. The study finds that the world will likely see multiple effects of climate change beyond 2 degrees Celsius, including rising sea levels and intensifying extreme weather events such as heat waves, severe storms, and floods. The global mean temperature increases since pre-industrial times have already reached 1°C (1.8°F), which has triggered substantial sea-level rise and other changes in the physical climate system.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on

Global Warming

Climate change is happening right now; it’s not something that will happen in the future; it’s happening now. With global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F), we’ll have increased extreme weather, droughts, and wildfires, rising sea levels, and more intense storms. We need global efforts with urgent action for mitigation and adaptation. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.

Ocean Acidification

The ocean is our life support system. It holds most of the earth’s carbon, provides food, absorbs excess CO2, and regulates the climate. Ocean acidification is one of the most serious impacts of global warming that we face and it can have devastating consequences for marine life and coastal communities. Studies show that by 2100 if climate change continues this trajectory, ocean acidification will lead to a decline in fish size and population decline which will cause major changes to our food chain.

Arctic Thawing

The global average surface temperature has risen by about 1°C (1.8°F) since the pre-industrial era, and the Arctic is warming at an even faster rate. This means that in a year or two, the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice for most of the summer months, exposing a vast region that was once one of the coldest places on Earth.  This has serious implications for wildlife and indigenous communities who rely on sea ice for hunting, cultural practices, and transportation.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are plants and animals that are not native to a specific area and have been introduced by humans. Invasive species can be either plant or animal, and they often cause many environmental problems. For example, invasive species can spread diseases or change ecosystems in ways that affect native populations of other organisms.

Change in Winter Patterns

For instance, within the last 30 years, winter has begun one month earlier than it did in the 1950s. This means that the snowpack is getting less time to build up before it melts, and the ground stays wetter for longer periods of time. Snowmelt adds more water to streams which can cause them to flow faster and erode stream banks. As a result, there are many risks, including wildfires, loss of agricultural land due to flooding, and disruption of traditional food supplies for animals such as grizzly bears or moose due to lack of snow cover.

Extreme Weather Events

-The storm surge from Hurricane Sandy caused over $70 billion in damages, and the poorest Americans were the most impacted.

-A drought in Texas in 2011 resulted in $5.2 billion in agricultural damages, which is more than any other natural disaster since 1980.

-In 2017, there were six climate-related disasters, each worth over $1 billion dollars which is the highest number on record. These include Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma, and wildfires that devastated California.  Not to mention more recent storms that just impacted regions within the past five days.

Storm Surge, Sea Level Rise, and Coastal Flooding

Storm surges, sea level rise, and coastal flooding all pose a significant risk to our coastlines. Storm surge occurs when a storm’s winds push water onto the shore. Sea level rise will increase the intensity of these surges in two ways: 1) rising sea levels mean that there is more water to be pushed onto land, and 2) as the water is pushed onto land, it raises the height of the waves coming ashore. Increased coastal flooding also threatens coasts around the world. Coastal regions are home to billions of people and $1 trillion worth of infrastructure, which makes them some of the most vulnerable areas to climate change impacts.

Drought Risk

According to the IPCC, climate change will cause drought risks in regions where water is already scarce. This is of particular concern for Africa and the Middle East, which have been singled out as regions at high risk of future water shortages. A recent study by University College London found that droughts could become up to 10 times more frequent by 2050-2100 due to climate change, even if we successfully curb global warming. Extreme heat: A 2016 report by the World Health Organization found that exposure to extreme heat events can be expected to kill more people every year than all other natural disasters, combined with projections of an additional 125 million people being exposed annually by 2030.

Water Shortages / Scarcity

The scarcity of water is a serious and mounting global concern. With the world’s population expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, water scarcity will be exacerbated by a growing demand for food and energy. In many regions, climate change may further exacerbate the situation through extreme weather events like floods and droughts that can reduce access to clean water or make it unsafe to drink. Changing temperatures could also lead to more frequent disease outbreaks from contaminated drinking water, reduced crop yields, and degraded soil quality. If we do not act quickly to slow climate change, there will be more people living in water-scarce conditions by 2025.-MM



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