Global warming is one of the most important social and environmental issues in our society. Warming global temperatures is a pressing threat we are facing in the 21st century. It is becoming increasingly apparent that collectively, as humanity, we need to increase our efforts to decrease our carbon footprint and invest in sustainability to stop global warming.
The facts around global warming are all around us. Temperatures will likely rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius just between the years 2030 and 2052 if our emissions continue on their current trajectory. Because of that, sea levels will rise by 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). Weather patterns will become less predictable and more extreme, bringing more natural disasters.
It’s easy to just perceive this information as dry facts, numbers that don’t concern us. However, these changes will bring big changes to our everyday lives on Earth, affecting us all. The following five effects of global warming are proof that in order to prevent future disasters, we have to act now.
1. Disappearing Cities
If you live on the coast, as 40% of the world’s population does, you’ll likely feel global warming progressing with the sea levels rising. In some low-lying areas, you may already be experiencing increased floods nowadays, which will only become more severe and frequent unless we put a stop to global warming.
Aside from sea levels rising, some areas are also sinking due to excessive pumping of groundwater, which will likely exaggerate the effects.
Cities including Jakarta (Indonesia), Lagos (Nigeria), Houston (USA), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Venice (Italy), Virginia Beach (USA), Bangkok (Thailand), New Orleans (USA), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Alexandria (Egypt) and Miami (USA) are at high risk of disappearing under rising sea levels – some of which could be mainly inhabitable as soon as in 2050, unless things start to change.
If you’re worried that opting for alternatives with a lower carbon footprint may be more expensive, think of the following fact: if the effects of global warming can’t be stopped, infrastructure such as sea walls will need to be built to protect areas from flooding. The costs of building such infrastructures will be reflected in an increase in taxes.
2. Lack of Access to Safe Water
Global warming would likely affect the quality of water in a variety of different ways. Firstly, extreme weather such as storms will make it harder for people to access safe drinking water – not just by physically making traveling to water sources harder, but also by contaminating them with contaminants from the streets or nearby farms.
In some low-lying areas, rising seawater levels could contaminate safe drinking water sources as well. With the increasing temperatures, pathogens will also breed faster in water, contaminating previously safe water sources.
3. Outdoor Labor Becoming Unbearable
If you work outdoors or go outside frequently for exercise, your habits will inevitably have to change if global warming continues. Heatwaves are expected to increase in frequency due to human carbon footprint. As a result, compound heatwaves are predicted to become more common, which will lead to outdoor conditions becoming much more unpleasant – or downright dangerous – to spend prolonged periods of time outdoors.
Working or exercising during these heatwaves can become a serious health hazard, especially to farmers or other workers in developing countries where worker safety isn’t taken as seriously.
However, even indoor workers would be heavily affected where air-conditioning isn’t available by these changing patterns significantly.
4. Higher Risk of Losing Your Home & Increasing Cost of Home Insurance
The changing weather patterns combined with our growing carbon footprint will make life unstable. The risk of losing our homes to natural disasters and extreme weather will inevitably increase. The type of natural disaster will depend on the area you’re living in, but whether the threat is a flood or a wildfire, it will become much more likely to cost you your home.
Consider this, in just 13 of the most at-risk US states, over 775,000 homes are at extreme risk of wildfire damage.
This won’t just increase instability, it will also make home insurance much more expensive, especially in areas that are already prone to damage from natural disasters. It is possible that in certain at-risk areas, home insurance may become completely unavailable, or priced so high most people won’t be able to afford it.
5. Threat to our Food Supply
Most of us take a reliable, varied food supply for granted. That could quickly change if we don’t focus on both sustainability and on decreasing our carbon footprint.
Extreme weather conditions would make farms much more vulnerable to damage from changing weather conditions, leading to severe disruption to food production. Warming temperatures are also likely to make it much harder to cultivate certain weather-sensitive crops. Some scientists argue that weather-sensitive crops might completely disappear from our supply chain or have their prices skyrocket.
Since 41% of insect species are threatened by progressing global warming, pollination would also become much more difficult. Pollination is vital to agriculture, as it leads to the production of fruits we can eat and seeds that will create more plants. Losing these invaluable insect species would also mean that we’d lose any crops they pollinate.
How Do We Stop Global Warming?
Knowing about the dangers that warming global temperatures will bring to our everyday lives, how do we make a change, decrease our carbon footprint, and move towards more sustainable solutions?
The western world is dominated by capitalism. Therefore, businesses have an (often unfulfilled) responsibility to tackle their environmental impact for the good of society.
Some global brands and their CEOs are taking initiative in combating society’s social and environmental issues. Their influence can extend over and above that of the government, which, unlike businesses, usually have absolutely no incentive to promote sustainability practices. Therefore, it’s crucial that businesses lead the way towards eco-friendly practices and take action in reducing their carbon footprint if we are to stop global warming.
Yet, we can’t forget about the individual power each and every one of us has over decreasing our own carbon footprint. After all, what these large companies mainly respond to is demand. If we collectively demand that they act more sustainably, they’ll have no choice but to do so.
Remember that every choice that you make counts towards your carbon footprint – from turning off the lights when you leave the room, to choosing a more sustainable car model, to choosing from where to buy your clothes.
We all, individually and collectively, have influence. We ought to use it for the greater good.