Climate Change refers to the overall warming of Earth’s atmosphere and surface. It is the result of a number of factors, including changes in solar energy, ocean circulation, volcanic activity and greenhouse gases. Each of these contributes to the climate system in a different way at different times.
Human activities have caused a large increase in the level of greenhouse gases in the air. This is mostly due to burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. In addition, deforestation also reduces Earth’s ability to absorb and release carbon dioxide.
Since the Industrial Revolution began in 1750, carbon dioxide levels in the air have risen by about 20 percent. If current emissions continue, the planet will warm much faster than it has in the past – and that’s bad for health.
Heat waves, wildfires and hurricanes are already affecting people around the world. They may become more frequent and severe as the climate continues to change. The loss of farmland and freshwater sources may lead to food shortages and famine in many countries. And as the ice sheets melt and sea levels rise, many communities may be forced to relocate. This can strain families and lead to social distancing, which can contribute to mental health problems.
The most vulnerable people will suffer the most from climate change. Wealthier people have more buffers against these effects, such as the means to pay for air-conditioning in hot weather or to evacuate their homes before disaster strikes. Poorer people live in warmer neighborhoods and work outdoors, where they are exposed to the harshest effects of climate change. In addition, they may have a harder time recovering from the economic damage caused by natural disasters or the disruption to their daily lives that occurs when they are forced to relocate.
Besides temperature changes, other effects of climate change include changing air quality and increasing waterborne diseases. People with preexisting medical conditions can be especially susceptible to these changes, such as those with heart disease and respiratory illnesses. Those with psychiatric illnesses are also at risk for increased distress, anxiety and depression caused by the impacts of climate change.
Developing nations, which have contributed the least to historic greenhouse gas emissions, will bear the brunt of climate change. This is because they have fewer resources to mitigate the problem and adapt to its impacts. They will also have to deal with the fact that climate change exacerbates existing social inequalities. Developed economies will also be better equipped to cope with the impacts of climate change because they have the money and technology to invest in renewable energy and cut their carbon footprints. However, the costs of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius will be enormous – and rising. Some experts estimate that it could cost the equivalent of a year’s worth of global GDP.