Here are some of the consequences that climate change is already causing on the planet:
Increase in the average temperature of the earth
It is one of the main, if not the most important, consequences of climate change and is directly linked to the emission of gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect. The trend of global warming has been double in the last 50 years than in the previous 100 years, and if this trend continues, the average temperature of the earth is predicted to rise to 4°C by 2050.
Some of the consequences of this rise in temperature could be health problems in the elderly and children, as they are the most vulnerable on hot days, or the ease of reproduction of some insects that cause plant diseases and will affect crops. The high temperatures will also generate an increase in dehydration, and therefore in the demand for drinking water, but in turn, the capacity of the reservoirs will be reduced, causing a shortage.
Increase in sea level and temperature
The increase in global land temperature will cause glacial ice to melt, leading to an increase in the amount of water in seas and oceans. According to scientists, the sea level is expected to rise by 20 metres by 2100, posing a danger to all those cities located on the coast or on land below sea level. Places such as the Netherlands, Calcutta, Bangladesh, Beijing, Shanghai or South Florida and San Francisco Bay in the USA, among others, will be seriously threatened.
According to a report by the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), one of the first examples of the consequences could occur in the Caribbean Sea, where sea level is expected to rise by 40 cm by 2060, which would cause an invasion of groundwater used for the supply of salt water from the sea, causing serious disruption in freshwater consumption.
Not only the sea level will rise, but also its temperature, contributing to their acidification and seriously endangering many plant and animal species.
Increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events
This increase in ocean water temperature leads to an increase in the level of water evaporation and cloudiness index, leading to an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. Traditionally this only happened in the Caribbean, but the tropicalization of the seas, causes these phenomena to occur today in almost any place on the planet.
Strong heat waves, floods or droughts are some of the most common phenomena on our planet, whose voracity and frequency is estimated to have doubled in the last thirty years.
Changes in ecosystems
Another major consequence of climate change is change in ecosystems. Increased desertification, extension of the tropical region to higher latitudes or displacement of forest regions to regions that are now part of the tundra and taiga. Not to mention the profound changes in coastal ecosystems, probably the most affected by rising sea levels, caused by the flooding of their coasts.
Danger of extinction of numerous plant and animal species
These disastrous and irreversible changes in ecosystems compromise the integrity of numerous plant and animal species and constitute a serious threat to their conservation.
The polar bear may be the first to be affected, as it can now be observed as its population decreases as its difficulty in acclimatizing to habitat loss increases in the Arctic regions. Another example may be the population of corals, severely affected by rising sea temperatures.
According to experts, between 20 and 30% of animal and plant species could be threatened with extinction by an increase of between 1.5 and 2.5 °C in the average global temperature of the earth.
The decrease in freshwater levels in rivers and lakes, due to evaporation caused by rising temperatures, will cause a new problem, drought.
Drought will contribute to the desertification of soils, losing much of their nutrients and worsening their composition, thus generating a serious problem for cultivation.
Effects on agriculture and forest area
Rising temperatures and water shortages will contribute to the difficulty of cultivation and reduce its productivity, leading to food shortages and increased world hunger.
It will also increase the number of forest fires, causing the disappearance of these large carbon sinks and further contributing to the impact of climate change on the planet.
Impacts on human health
Depending on the location and adaptive capacity of the regions, the consequences of climate change can be very negative for human health. There will be an increase in the number of malnourished people, as well as the number of people killed directly or indirectly by extreme weather events such as floods, storms, droughts, heat waves or fires.
For example, our annual assessment of China’s economic health showed that a carbon tax – or simply a tax on the use of coal – would be significantly more effective in reducing emissions and local air pollution than emissions trading systems that do not cover those of vehicles or buildings, while generating substantial tax revenue.
Also, according to a forthcoming study, a tariff of $70 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions in 2030, which would raise the price of gasoline by approximately 60 cents per gallon and push the price of coal more than threefold, would be more than enough to meet the mitigation commitments of some advanced economies and emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. That price would be almost enough in some countries like Turkey and the United States, but it would be far below what Australia, Canada and some European countries need.
These differences in what a price of $70 can achieve on mitigation commitments reflect both differences in the rigour of those commitments and in the sensitivity of fuels and emissions to pricing. For example, emissions tend to be more sensitive to pricing in coal-intensive countries such as China, India and South Africa.
Carbon pricing should be part of a broader strategy to reflect the full range of social costs implicit in energy prices. This includes deaths from air pollution and other local environmental side-effects from fuel use. A spreadsheet provides all member countries with estimates of the energy prices needed to reflect supply costs and all other environmental costs, as well as the subsidies implicit in artificially low fossil fuel prices.