Climate Change and its Impact on Natural DisastersBailey J. MorganState University of New York at AlbanyAuthor [email protected]AbstractChanges in weather patterns and climate throughout the world have dated back from many centuries, this is the belief in climate change. Since the 19th century, carbon dioxide has been released into the air due to the excessive use of fossil fuels. The immense amount of CO2 started to impact the world in various ways; mostly negative. Climate changes vast impacts on the earth has started to take a toll on human life and will continue to until it is controlled. Hundreds of countries have started to take action upon this idea. Debates on climate change has been going on however, either way it needs to be stopped and controlled.Keywords: climate change, natural disasters, carbon dioxideClimate Change and its Impact on Natural DisastersIn recent decades to now, scientists and observers have noticed changes in weather patterns throughout the world. Arguments have been made upon the topic of climate change and global warming, some argue it’s a hoax and believe “shifts in climate are nothing new and a natural process” (Okello, 2005, pg 1) and others believe “climate change is very real and is already happening.” (Okello, 2005, pg 1) There is scientific evidence proving that climate change is real but, the question is, has climate change affected the world we live in as well as natural disasters? How? The answer is complex and requires the examining of many variables. Climate change, sometimes mistaken for global warming, is a change in both global and regional climate patterns. “Most Americans perceive climate change to be a distant threat…” (Bloodhart, Maibach, Myers, Zhao, 2015, pg 1) “Over the past two decades, evidence has mounted that the global climate is changing, and the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are largely to blame” (Aalst, 2006, pg 1) climate change is partly due to the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, petroleum, etc.) which release dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide into the air over time. The fossils fuels that are released have started to deplete the earth’s atmosphere, mainly the Ozone layer. (Slettebak, 2013, pg 1) This layer of the earth’s atmosphere absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet rays that come from the sun. The sun’s rays are meant to warm and provide light to the Earth and its people, but with ozone depletion, less of the sun’s rays are being absorbed, therefore, the temperature of the earth is gradually increasing and global weather patterns and cycles are changing. (Aalst, 2006, pg 1) In the 19th century, a major turning point in world history was the start of the Industrial Revolution which led to a large use of fossil fuel throughout the newly industrialized countries. “Since then, fossil fuel levels have increased very quickly.” (Aalst, 2006, 6) In 1896, scientists from Sweden published an idea; as humans burned fossil fuels, adding carbon dioxide gas into earth’s atmosphere, the average temperature would rise: this theory was called the greenhouse effect. In the beginning, scientists found reasons to argue, saying it wasn’t possible for emissions and humanity to change the climate; it was only after many decades that the arguments could be proven wrong. Years after the greenhouse effect, research concluded that scientists were led to believe that due to the increase in average temperature, changes in precipitation and seasonal temperature were likely to occur along with more frequent and intense natural disasters along the lines of hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, floods, etc.. Climate change has impacted the whole world and will continue to progress. Some of the most affected areas have been Africa and India. Climate change will and already had devastating effects on Africa. Because the climate is changing so much and so quick, it is difficult to know what to expect in even in rich countries so adaption is much worse in countries with widespread poverty, (Telesetsky, 2016, pg 1) because of this, places like Africa will have the most problems due to limited capabilities; when the weather changes so frequently people, animals and plants don’t have time to adapt. Africa has always been prone to natural disasters, therefore it is difficult to attribute specific conditions to climate change. However it is known that the frequency and intensity of events related to precipitation is set to dramatically increase. For example, the 2000 Mozambique flood was natural disaster that occured in the months of February and March 2000. The “floods in Mozambique were caused by unusually high rainfall in the Southern African region.” (Okello, 2005, pg 1) The natural disaster killed approximately 700 people and left many homeless. This major flooding was one of many disasters to happen in African history. Other disasters that struck the African territory include more than 13 major droughts since 1983; some impacted upwards of 23,000,000 people, multiple earthquakes, floods and storms all which left thousands dead and damaged the country economically with debt ranging from $393,000 to $5,200,000. This substantial amount of debt is very difficult to overcome, especially in the poorest country in the world, which is why “The richest countries of the world… have a responsibility to help the poorest…This is not just charity, but a moral obligation. The world’s wealthiest countries have emitted their fair share of greenhouse gases.” (Okello, 2005, pg 1)The same problems Africa has faced has been discovered in India as well. Scientifically it is proven that the natural disasters have gotten much more frequent as time goes on. Some of the worst natural disasters that India has encountered since 1990 have been the Kashmir Floods, Uttarakhand Flash Floods, Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the Gujarat Earthquake. Much of India’s focus throughout the course of its history with natural disasters was based on the economic effects. For example, the year of 2015 was the year of droughts for India. From 2014-2015 India had a 12 percent deficit in its rainfall, similar to the 2015-2016 year with a 14 percent deficit in rainfall. The droughts left the country in a $3.30 billion debt and made agriculture development difficult. The country still has not economically recovered from the severe droughts, partly due to the fact that more and more have kept recurring since then, “Payments for natural disaster losses in the last few decades have been possible because companies, particularly reinsurance companies, have been able to spread disaster losses across time and geographies. As the intensity and frequency of disasters are increasingly attributed in some part to climate change on their policies” (Telesetsky, He, 2006, pg 487) therefore countries will not have the same help with recovery.Climate change has impacted the whole world, some places more than others; studies have shown that climate change isn’t stopping any time soon. The effects of climate change have been going on for years and the only way to stop it is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from being released. Countries throughout the world have noticed the impact that climate change has had so far up to this point in time and realized it needs to be stopped tp maintain survival therefore, with efforts to control and limit climate change, many countries have come together to form The Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement is an agreement formed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation and finance and is set to start in the year 2020. The goal is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change; looking to keep the global temperature rise under 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrialization levels and to eventually keep the temperature rise under 1.5 degrees celsius. As of November 2017, 195 countries in the UNFCCC have signed the agreement and 174 have become a party to it; although Donald Trump recently announced his intentions of withdrawing the United States of America leading the US to be the only country to refuse the climate change deal causing international and domestic condementation . However, under the agreement the earliest date that a country can withdraw from the plan is November of 2020, very shortly after President Trumps first term ends. In the Paris Agreement, each country is required to determine, plan and regularly report its contribution to the stop of global warming: for example, in July of 2016 Nicolas Hulot, Frances environmental minister announced Frances five-year plan to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles in the country by 2040, he also stated that France would no longer burn coal to produce energy after 2022 and that €4 billion will be used in order to boost energy efficiency in France. With carbon dioxide levels rising and the ozone layer depleting, health risks are increasing. Heatwaves, air quality, natural disasters and droughts have all made negative impacts on human health in relation to climate change. The influences of weather and climate on human health are significant and varied. Exposure to health hazards that are related to climate change impact different people in different regions to different degrees. With climate change, the frequency, severity, duration, and location of weather and climate such as rising temperatures, heavy rainfall and droughts, and many other forms of severe weather and climate are changing meaning that areas are already experiencing life harming weather and climate such as severe heat and hurricanes are likely to experience worsening impacts. Climate change can then affect human health in two main ways: first by increasing the severity or frequency of health problems that are already impacted by climate or weather factors; secondly it can create unprecedented or unanticipated health problems or threats in places where they have not previously occurred. A main health related problem caused by the sun is skin cancer. The first ever person to be diagnosed with skin cancer was in the early 1800s. Skin cancer; which is the abnormal growth of cells on the skin (usually exposed to the sun) is primarily caused by cumulative exposure to the sun which can cause basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer; excessive sun exposure with severe sunburns can also cause melanoma later in life. The amount of people that have been diagnosed with skin cancer in recent years has skyrocketed. One person dies of skin cancer each hour (54 minutes) due to melanoma. It is estimated that approximately 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States every day. Because of ozone depletion, most of the sun’s UV rays are not absorbed, instead they hit the face of the earth and its people is a large source of sun exposure, resulting in increased numbers of skin cancer. Since life on earth, weather and climate played a large role in the survival of earth and its plants, animals and people. Each of these factors;mainly human impacts have shaped the world into what it is today. Since the age of industrialization, the amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases that have been released into the air have risen substantially. This human impact has caused climate and weather to have significant changes to planet earth. Since industrialization, natural disasters have become more frequent and more dangerous causing significant loss of life, debt and changes to the world. As industrialization continues to grow and impact the earth, it is increasingly more and more difficult to adapt and even know how to adapt under the circumstances therefore making it harder for life to continue. Climate change has and will continue to cause more health related issues which can even cause death until control is taken and climate change and global warming is slowed down and comes to an end. The solution requires a lot of time and effort to maintain a good quality of life on earth.ReferencesBloodhart, B., Maibach, E., Myers, T., & Zhao, X. (2015). Local Climate Experts: The Influence of Local TV Weather Information on Climate Change Perceptions. Plos ONE, 10(10), 1-14. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141526Calhoun, Y. (Ed.). Environmental Issues; Climate Change. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers.Okello, T. (2005). FEELING THE HEAT. New African, (442), 19.Slettebak, R. T. (2013). Climate Change, Natural Disasters, and Post-Disaster Unrest in India. 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