We will write a custom Essay on The Economic Cost of Climate Change Effects specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Climate change refers to a lasting and significant change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns. This can occur over a long period of time, from decades to millions of years (Parry 2007). Although climate change may affect a specific region, on the other hand, it can also affect the entire globe.
Because the general definition of climate change involves changes in the statistical components of a climate system without taking into account the causes of such changes, changes in climate over a short period of time (such as several decades, like in the case of El Nino) does not constitute climate change.
The complex interconnection between water resources, climate, socio-economic and biophysical systems means that anytime one of these components encounters a change, it affects the other elements (Pongiglione 2011). There is enough compelling evidence in literature to support the claim that climate change is a real threat to the very survival of human race.
Accordingly, the current essay endeavors to answer the question, is climate change the most serious threat facing humankind? In this regard, the essay shall attempt to examine the economic cost associated with the effects of climate change, and the deaths attributed to this phenomenon.
Is climate change the most serious threat facing humankind?
Climate change is now widely regarded as the biggest challenge facing the human race. Increased frequent droughts, melting glaciers, rising temperatures, and flooding, is enough evidence that the challenge of climate change to human kind is now a reality (Dykstra 2006).
Future generations are faced with colossal risks thanks to climate change and for this reason, there is need to ensure that we take urgent action to contain climate change.
A lot of resources have been directed towards the running of programs meant to create awareness about the effects of climate change so that people may change their behavior and adapt methods that will result in sustainable management of natural resources. This is aimed at slowing down the impact of climate change (Dykstra 2006).
However, besides climate change, we are likely to be faced other major environmental threats in the years ahead. Other than contributing to the global environmental change, climate change is also regarded as a key component of the intertwined and complex ecosystem. As such, a number of key environmental problems and strong inter- linkages between climate changes will be the main issues facing the next generation.
We also need to remember that climate change has had a significant influence on biodiversity and consequently, the loss in biodiversity, thereby impacting greatly on climate change. Changes in droughts, rainfall patterns and droughts all combine to cause land degradation such as desertification, soil erosion, and deteriorating soil quality.
Once land has been degraded, it tends to release more greenhouse gases and carbon into the atmosphere. This effectively kills the biodiversity. The released gases may sequester carbon and as a result, a feedback loop ensues, thereby intensifying climate change (International Daily Newswire 2006). Climate change may also exacerbate water degradation because it destabilizes ground water tables.
Going by the recent scientific evidence, there is more cause for alarm about the impact of climate change on humans than we may suspect. For example, some of the effects of climate change borders on the issues of security agenda: famine, disease, and flooding. This results in unprecedented migrations in areas that are already experiencing high tension.
In addition, climate change can result in crop-failure and drought, resulting in enhanced competition for water, energy, and food in regions already grappling with limited resources (Dykstra 2006). Also, such regions are likely to experience economic disruptions on a large-scale.
The issue of climate change is not just a threat to national security, but to the global security as well since the world is becoming increasingly interdependent and fragile. What this means is that the effects of climate change on region are felt in another region. In the absence of a stable climate, it would be very hard for a country to fight poverty.
The Euro barometer pool that was conducted in June 2011 shows that Europeans are convinced that climate change posses a greater danger to humankind that the current global financial crisis (Pongiglione 2011). According to this poll, climate change was ranked as the second greatest threat to the globe and humankind, after poverty.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
89 percent of those participants who responded to the survey viewed climate change as a “serious” problem. The seriousness of climate change cannot be underestimated bearing in mind that nobody can claim immunity to its effects. The effects of climate change and climate variability on natural systems and human beings pose grave danger to our intentions to achieve sustainable development and reduce poverty.
For this reason, various participants from different countries are called upon to cooperate in ensuring that they reduce the impact of climate change. In recent years, we have experienced a lot of severe weather conditions and natural disasters, and this has disrupted economic activities in the developing and the developed countries and in the process, touched on the lives of millions of people (Pongiglione 2011).
A case in point is the Indian Ocean tsunami that greatly affected the Southeast Asia region. Other examples are the droughts and floods of unimaginable magnitude that have affected different parts of the globe.
There is also the issue of the increased intensity of earthquakes in India and Pakistani, as well as the various hurricanes in the Caribbean and North Atlantic regions. What this appears to suggest is that all of us are faced with various risks owing to climate change.
As a result of the recent climate change, extreme heat waves have increased by between two and four times the normal ranges. In addition, climate change has increased the intensity and frequency of extreme weather, resulting in an upswing in damages. For example, the natural catastrophes of 2005 are believed to have caused damages to property to the tune of USD 220 billion (Natural Resource Defense Council 2011).
Besides property damage, we also need to take into account losses in income of those affected. For example, following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Louisiana State in the United States lost the equivalent of 15 % of its income in the months that followed the tragedy.
Every country in the world has to bear the price of global warming. According to new research findings on the United States, in case the country continues with the current trends, the cumulative cost of climate change shall be 3 times higher than its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In this case, real estate losses, energy cost, Hurricane damage and water costs alone will account for 1.8 percent of the country’s GDP by 2100 (Natural Resource Defense Council 2011). What these statistics appear to suggest is that climate change is a real threat to the human race, more than even biological hazards.
This is because in the case of biological hazards, they are more likely to affect a specific region, and not the entire globe. However, climate change affects the entire globe. For example, illegal logging of the forest cover in one region will have an effect in another region that depends on this natural resource.
Already, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the effects of climate change results in 150,000 deaths annually. On the other hand, biological hazards are thought to result in 320,000 deaths each year, on a global scale (Safe Work Australia 2011).
This is twice the number of annual deaths attributed to climate change. What this appears to suggest is that biological hazards represents a high threat to humankind, although their likelihood of occurrence is quite low. Changes in rainfall and temperature conditions can also influence the patterns of transmission of vector-borne infections and water-borne diseases, including malaria (WHO 2011).
Besides causing death, climate change also affect weather patterns. Poor weather patterns cause low food production, resulting in increased cases of malnutrition. Moreover, evidence also shows that if greenhouse gas emissions go unmitigated, they are likely to increase the disease burden in the years to come.
In the coming decades, the economic costs of dealing with the effects of climate change will run into billions of dollars and those areas experiencing higher rates of climate change will have a hard time adapting to these conditions (Muller 2008). According to estimates by the United Nations Development Programme, by 2015, we shall require an extra USD 86 billion every year to deal with the effects of climate change (UNDP 2008).
Climate change has been regarded as the greatest threat facing human kind today. This is because the effects of global climate change threaten the very survival of not just the current human race, but the future generations as well. Besides contributing to an estimated 150,000 deaths annually, climate change is also associated with a loss in biodiversity, land degradation, soil erosion, and deteriorating soil quality.
This translates into increased cases of poverty and famine among the global populace. A lot of attention and resources have been set aside to alleviate the effects of climate change because the various governments and the scientific world have recognized that without doing this, our future looks bleak.
Dykstra, J. (2006) Is Climate Change the Greatest Modern Threat Facing Humankind. Web.
International Daily Newswire. (2006) Climate heating most serious threat facing Humanity. Web.
Natural Resource Defense Council. (2011) The cost of climate change. What we’ll pay if global warming continues unchecked. Web.
Parry, E. J. ( 2007) The greatest threat to global security: climate change is not merely an environmental problem. Web.
Pongiglione, F. (2011) Climate change and individual decision making: an examination of knowledge, risk perception, self-interest and their interplay. Web.
Safe Work Australia. (2011) Biological hazards in Australian Workplaces. Web.
UNDP. (2008) Human development report 2007/2008. Fighting climate change: human solidarity in a divided world. Web.
WHO. (2011) Climate change. Web.