A Climate Change Side Effect: Risk Epicenters
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Climate change has become a divisive concept. Some believe that a climate change side effect only impact a small portion of the world and that the consequences won’t be that severe. Then, there are the people who believe that climate change is the biggest and most important problem facing humanity today. Science shows this second group of people is on the right track, as there is a growing body of articles and research studies that show climate change will have significant consequences. But just how badly will climate change affect the world? Unnervingly, in more ways than one.
This is an often-overlooked climate change side effect. If harsh heat wipes out crops in the southern part of the U.S., this isn’t just a problem for farmers. Rather, it affects an entire social class. Conversely, those in the northern part of the U.S. may not be as affected. One study shows how climate change would affect people according to socioeconomics. The study showed that the poorest third of counties in the U.S. are set to experience an income loss of between two and 20 percent. Granted, this is a worst-case scenario, but it’s important to acknowledge the deadly possibility of this outcome.
You can live without food for weeks, but you need water every 72 hours to stay alive. It’s such a valuable resource, people may even go to war over water supplies in the next 100 years as clean water becomes increasingly scarce. If climate change continues to eviscerate certain parts of the world with massive droughts, vast reserves of water begin to look better and better. Recently, Egypt threatened Ethiopia. Why? Ethiopia wanted to dam the Nile River. If that doesn’t scream “urgent problem,” nothing does. Water is key to life on Earth, and will be profoundly affected by climate change.
The Arctic is the focal point of melting ice caps. As the Earth gets warmer, it’s only natural that the icy parts of the world will begin to melt. Not only does this endanger the lives of people and wildlife, it affects the political landscape, as well. What happens if a crumbling iceberg wipes out a town, or if rising sea levels drown coastlines? Who takes the blame for this? It’s a scary idea that deserves discussion.
Rapidly spreading diseases can affect any country on the planet — especially in our highly mobile modern society. You may believe you’re not at risk for a pandemic if you live in a medically advanced country like the U.S., but the risk for a pandemic focuses more on unstoppable viruses and diseases. Nobody on Earth is truly safe from a pandemic. Pandemics can also raise political tension, as travel bans begin to be enacted. It’s only a matter of time before those tensions rise to a tipping point.
This is an aspect that may come as a surprise to you. In certain parts of the world, climate change is making some areas unlivable. Whether they are under attack from constant monsoons or continuous drought, these extreme weather events are too much for some populations. If people can’t live in these areas, they’ll begin to migrate. And, as we’ve seen, many countries don’t welcome massive in-migrations of refugees. It causes a lot of problems, and it’s a serious issue that needs to be considered when dealing with climate change.
About the author
Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.