With US President Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement recently, the debate has once again shifted to climate change. And across the globe, different sets of research now point to the various fallouts that mankind can expect due to global warming. Researchers have warned that some of the world’s cities may be as much as eight degrees Celsius (14.4 F) warmer by 2100 due to global warming and localised urban heating. Such a temperature spike would have dire consequences for the health of city dwellers and also put pressure on already strained natural resources such as water. This is a projection based on the worst-case scenario assumption that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise throughout the 21st century. As per a study in the journal, Nature Climate Change, the top quarter of most populated cities, in this scenario, could see temperatures rise by seven degrees Celsius or more by the century’s end. As per computer projections, it’s indicated that temperatures would hit baking peaks above 50 degrees Celsius in parts of Australia, India, the Middle East, North Africa, the Sahel and equatorial and subtropical South America by 2100. The rising temperature is also leading to insomnia. As per a largest-of-its-kind study conducted last month by the University of California at San Diego, we are getting less sleep due to global warming. Health practitioners increasingly stress on how important it’s for us humans to get sufficient sleep to maintain good health. Global warming can be concerning and climate change may impact our health most adversely. When temperatures rise, cities are hit with heat waves that can cause heatstroke, dehydration and other serious heat-related illnesses. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by the end of this century, extreme heat waves could cause tens of thousands of additional deaths each summer.
Some healthcare practitioners also speculate that global warming will further lead to the spread of the Zika virus. When temperatures rise, disease carriers like mosquitoes travel to regions that were once too cold for them to survive. As they migrate, they spread diseases. And as per new research, increased environmental temperatures lead to an increase in diabetes incidence. Researchers speculate that this uptick has to do with brown fat, which our bodies normally burns to keep us warm during the cold months. In warmer temperatures, this fat becomes less active, which could contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. Then there are allergies. Warmer temperatures make for a longer allergy season and air pollution contributes to asthma.
Small rises in temperature have a great impact on global climate change. It has taken its toll on coral reefs. While concerns are rife about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, scientists are finding similar damage on reefs all over the world, including in the Pacific Ocean and the Carribean Sea. Coral mortality is on the rise and it’s believed to be bought on by unusually warm conditions, likely influenced by climate change and an unusually severe El Nino effect in 2015. Scientists are also worried about extreme storm conditions becoming a more common phenomena with the rise in temperature. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology recently published a study that focused on the impact of global warming on a number of extreme rainfall events. As per the new report, the most extreme rainfall events in a majority of regions across the globe will increase in intensity by 3-15%, depending on region, for every degree Celsius the earth’s average temperature warms. For example, much of North America and Europe would experience increases in the intensity of extreme rainfall by about 25% if the global average temperature rises by four degrees Celsius over the next 100 years, which is what many climate models are predicting based on a relatively high release of greenhouse gases worldwide.
Economists have warned that cities could lose up to 11% of their economic output, as the urban ‘heat island’ effect intensifies global warming. The urban heat island effect is caused largely because concrete, stone and road surfaces tend to absorb considerable amounts of energy from the sun.
As is evident, it’s time that we paid heed to the impact of global warming before it gets too late. Or is it already too late?