This week representatives from 100 different governments will be meeting as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Japan. The purpose of the meeting is to develop a report to demonstrate to world leaders just how bad the issue of climate change has become, and the repercussions for us (meaning humans). The effects of climate change on humans will be dire and global, causing our existing ills to become much worse. It is more than just rising sea levels and general warming of the planet. The panel predicts the following harms as a result of increased climate change.
1. VIOLENCE: For the first time, the panel is emphasizing the nuanced link between conflict and warming temperatures. Participating scientists say warming won’t cause wars, but it will add a destabilizing factor that will make existing threats worse.
2. FOOD: Global food prices will rise between 3 and 84 percent by 2050 because of warmer temperatures and changes in rain patterns. Hotspots of hunger may emerge in cities.
3. WATER: About one-third of the world’s population will see groundwater supplies drop by more than 10 percent by 2080, when compared with 1980 levels. For every degree of warming, more of the world will have significantly less water available.
4. HEALTH: Major increases in health problems are likely, with more illnesses and injury from heat waves and fires and more food and water-borne diseases. But the report also notes that warming’s effects on health is relatively small compared with other problems, like poverty.
5. WEALTH: Many of the poor will get poorer. Economic growth and poverty reduction will slow down. If temperatures rise high enough, the world’s overall income may start to go down, by as much as 2 percent, but that’s difficult to forecast.
The main take away is that this is already beginning to happen. From the severe drought in California, to superstorms like Sandy in October 2012, these events are only going to become more frequent and more lethal. This is not some problem that distant generations are going to have to deal with, it’s already started happening. The only question that remains is how bad are we going to allow things to get before we take serious action to mitigate the effects of climate change.