O'Vert Dose: How will global warming change our lives? Part II

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an average of 21.5 million people have been forcibly displaced by weather events such as floods, storms, forest fires and extreme temperatures since 2008. .

Here are the social consequences that await us:

1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050

These numbers are expected to increase over the coming decades. According to forecasts by the international think tank IEP, 1.2 billion people could be displaced worldwide by 2050 due to climate change and natural disasters.

In some parts of the world, the effects of inaction in the face of global warming are already clearly visible, for example, the slums of the capital of Bangladesh are filling up anarchically with climate migrants.

Our health seriously threatened

Plant and animal species are not the only ones concerned when it comes to global warming. In addition to the indirect consequences that we will have to suffer, some are unfortunately very direct, and will attack our health, whether physical or mental. The warmer atmosphere, especially in urban areas, will contain even more particles that are harmful to our respiratory systems, thus causing health problems such as asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. If global warming still does not cause many new or unknown health threats, existing effects will be exacerbated and more pronounced than at present.

According to experts, the health consequences will be manifested by an increase in heat-related mortality and morbidity (illness) in summer; increases in the risk of accidents; changes in the impact of diseases transmitted by vectors such as rodents, water or food; changes in the seasonal distribution of certain allergenic pollen species; the distribution of viruses and parasites; emerging and re-emerging animal diseases; and risks related to changes in air quality and ozone.

Our mental health will not escape this disaster either. Events related to global climate change will be visible to individuals in different ways, whether through stress and emotional distress, high-risk coping behavior such as increased alcohol and drug use, or still by psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

Unparalleled social instability

People living in low-income urban areas with weak infrastructure will be more exposed to climate impacts, and will have less capacity to cope. Those who are socially marginalized and completely deprived will be cannon fodder, and the elderly, often with reduced mobility or health problems, will see their life expectancy drop considerably.

The workforce will also suffer the consequences due to a decrease in the state of health of the population and the constraints of working conditions; the higher temperature in the workplace, or more frequent natural risks preventing people from coming to work face-to-face. In addition, several economic sectors, agriculture or tourism for example, will be very vulnerable due to their dependence on regular climatic conditions.

You don’t need to be a sociologist to predict that more hunger, thirst, unemployment, poverty and powerlessness in the face of natural disasters will only exacerbate existing inequalities, threaten political stability and cause much violence and anarchy.

What if global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius?

At 1.5 degrees, there would still be some precious rainforests, polar bears and coral reefs left on planet Earth, albeit seriously diminished. Sea levels would rise, but slowly, so that threatened cities will have a better chance of continuing to live normally. Droughts and floods would still allow food production to keep up with population growth. Millions more climate refugees could stay at home and others could avoid starvation.

By adapting to global warming, ideally, greenhouse gas emissions will have halved within a decade, and be carbon neutral by the middle of the century. So we would shut down coal-fired power plants instead of building new ones, every car would be electric, and we would restore forests instead of cutting them down. It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely, yet completely unachievable without the necessary education, adaptation and effort.

If we fail and global warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius

You could snorkel in the tropical seas, but the thriving coral reefs are gone. Heat waves will be increasingly deadly, and natural disasters more devastating.

Polar bears have disappeared, ice a distant memory, natural species in exponential extinction. Huge rivers of meltwater would flow into the ocean, which would begin to flood the coasts of the world, and boats would become the primary means of transportation there.

Millions of people could be forced to pack up and move, others won’t be able to, and others won’t even have time to make an attempt. Global crops would suffer, developing and underdeveloped countries will face a frightening lack of water and resources. It would be a world where poverty and human misery would increase, diseases and pandemics would multiply, and where chaos would undoubtedly reign.

Climate change is caused by man, man is also the one who can fight it. If we strive to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like solar and wind, we may still be able to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change. If all the promises of action against global warming have been kept and the targets are met, our best estimate is around 2 degrees warming by the end of the century, so we have a choice, but not for long. . If not, what are we going to tell our children? That we were just too lazy to move a finger?


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