Among major factors that affect human existence on planet earth, the climate is undoubtedly one of the most critical aspects that determine the settlement patterns, migration, and the general appearance of the environment. This being the case, it is of paramount importance to sensitize the entire population on the need to conserve the environment for future generations. Climate change can either be positive or negative. Current campaigns have been to sensitize people on the need to conserve the environment in order to reduce the effects of global warming. In efforts to reduce the effects of global warming on populations, nations have found themselves in the puzzle of dealing with other emerging problems like fighting malaria and other water-borne diseases after building dams for trapping the scarce rainfall. Efforts by the United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), and other Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) to flee from the predicament of solving one problem while creating another, largely depend on the efforts of not only the governments but also the general populace. This document critically assesses the various effects of global warming on society.
Brief Overview of the Effects of Global Warming
Since the early 1970s, rain scarcity has been a critical issue across many parts of Africa and especially in the Sahel. The Tigray region of northern Ethiopia was one of the acutely affected regions where prolonged drought intensified by war resulted to famine in 1970s and 1980 (Worldwatch Institute, 2012). Efforts were made by the local government to curb this effect through the building of dams to trap rainfall for irrigation. Although there was an increase in the harvests, there was a very high vulnerability to malaria as the stagnant waters acted as perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This reveals that apart from causing famine, climate change can be responsible for other causes of death like malaria, diarrheal diseases and malnutrition. Climate change may have a number of pulses to the human existence on earth: warm winters, for example, would mean a reduction in cold-related deaths in Europe and North America while hotter and drier climatic conditions would mean reduction in the survival of mosquitoes. These are just minor effects of climate change but the major ones include: the heightened spread of infectious diseases reduced agricultural product resulting to famine, floods and dangerous heat.
Shortage of food and malnutrition are major issues in low-income countries as many people in such regions cannot afford supplement their diet due to low income rates. Other than the third-world nations, food production is also likely to be affected in other first world countries due to the rising effects of global warming (Natural Resources Defence Council, 2012). There have however been speculations that the rising hotter climatic conditions are likely to boost crop production in the temperate regions. It is also been assumed that Carbon dioxide in the air will be a boon for agriculture, working as fertilizer when other favorable conditions for crop growth are available. Though, there is no certainty that the effects of carbon will play in the real world, there is an assurance that any beneficial effect will be felt in the middle and high latitude areas. This therefore excludes the rest of the world from the advantages of global warming, affirming that global warming would only cause havoc as opposed to environment conservation. It is also feared that although there might be an increase in high and middle latitude areas, crop production in tropical and subtropical regions might decline making many people get malnourished.
Current research on infectious disease and climate change reveals that both the developed and the developing communities are in danger of contracting vector-borne diseases: in developing nations, malaria is the major threat which is transmitted by a female anopheles mosquito and the developed nations are in the risk of contracting Lyme disease which is transmitted by ticks (Worldwatch Institute, 2012). Contrary to many people’s speculations that warmer climatic conditions would reduce the high breeding rate of mosquitoes, research has revealed that warmer weather heightens the rate of mosquito reproduction, increases the rate of blood requirement by the mosquito, prolongs the breeding season of the mosquito, and creates a favorable environment for the breeding and maturing of disease-causing micro-organisms. It has also been realized that mosquitoes and other disease-causing organisms have been adapting to the climatic conditions of higher and middle-latitude areas where new crops and animals are being bred. Governments’ efforts to fight malaria have been challenged by the fact that mosquitoes are becoming immune to many insecticides making it difficult to control them.
Extreme Weather Conditions and Rising Sea Levels
It is expected that the climatic conditions will consistently keep rising causing more frequent heat waves, torrential rains, and drought. This is because warmer air is saturated with moisture causing more frequent stronger and violent storms (National Geographic, 2012). Additionally, such weather extremes pose physical risks to humans through skin cancer, drowning, dehydration and injury among others. Hurricane Katrina of August 2005 is an excellent example of how climate change can have detrimental effects on society. Many deaths have also been witnessed during heat waves among the very young, the very old and frail people especially those with cardiovascular problems. Rising sea levels on the other hand pose a threat to the coastal populations due to the inexorable rising of water. Huge areas are still at risk of greater storm surges.
Global warming, as earlier mentioned, is one of the major threats facing the present and future generations. Human greed to over-exploit natural resources like forests has undoubtedly contributed to this problem and the entire human race can already feel the impacts of this greed. Drought, diseases, and unfavorable weather conditions, among other factors mentioned above are relentlessly haunting the human existence on earth and unless feasible strategies to conserve the environment are embraced, everyone can be sure that the world has no future. Following these arguments, it can generally be inferred that negative climatic change will indubitably lead to the extinction of many species on earth and even humans if no care is taken.