Climate change is already seriously affecting hundreds of millions of people today and in the next twenty years those affected will likely more than double – making it the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time. Those seriously affected are in need of immediate assistance either following a weather-related disaster, or because livelihoods have been severely compromised by climate change. The number of those severely affected by climate change is more than ten times greater than for instance those injured in traffic accidents each year, and more than the global annual number of new malaria cases. Within the next 20 years, one in ten of the world’s present population could be directly and seriously affected.Humans are smart enough to figure all this out, but will we be smart enough to save ourselves?...It is a grave global justice concern that those who suffer most from climate change have done the least to cause it. Developing countries bear over nine-tenths of the climate change burden: 98% of the seriously affected and 99% of all deaths from weather-related disasters, along with over 90% of the total economic losses. The 50 Least Developed Countries contribute less than 1% of global carbon emissions....To avert the worst outcomes of climate change, adaptation efforts need to be scaled up by a factor of more than 100 in developing countries. The only way to reduce the present human impact is through adaptation. But funding for adaptation in developing countries is not even one percent of what is needed. The multilateral funds that have been pledged for climate change adaptation funding currently amount to under half a billion US dollars....The most powerful consequences of climate change arise when a chain reaction magnifies the effects of rising temperatures. Think of a region suffering from water scarcity. That scarcity reduces the amount of arable land and thereby aggravates food security. The reduced crop production results in loss of income for farmers and may bring malnutrition. Health issues arise that could further diminish economic activity as family members become too weak to work. With time, worsening environmental conditions combined with financial instability may force populations to migrate. Migration can then become a catalyst for social unrest if increased population density in the place of refuge causes resource scarcity....Climate change aggravates existing problems. Many people today are not resilient to current weather patterns and climate variability, which is to say that they are unable to protect their families, livelihoods and food supply from the negative impacts of seasonal rainfall leading to floods or water scarcity during extended droughts. Climate change will multiply these risks....Tulsi Khara, India has lived all her 70 years in the world’s largest delta, where the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers meet and flow into the Bay of Bengal. “We are not educated people, but I can sense something grave is happening around us. I couldn’t believe my eyes – the land that I had tilled for years, that fed me and my family for generations, has vanished. We have lost our livelihood. All our belongings and cattle were swept away by cyclones. We have moved to Sagar Island and are trying to rebuild our lives from scratch. It wasn’t like this when I was young. Storms have become more intense than ever. Displacement and death are everywhere here. The land is shrinking and salty water gets into our fields, making them useless. We feel very insecure now.”...The main gradual changes are rising earth surface temperatures, rising sea levels, desertification, changes in local rainfall and river run-off patterns with increased precipitation in high latitudes and decreased precipitation in sub-tropical latitudes, salinisation of river deltas, accelerated species extinction rates, loss of biodiversity and a weakening of ecosystems. The impact of this gradual change is considerable. It reduces access to fresh and safe drinking water, negatively affects health and poses a real threat to food security in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In some areas where employment and crop choices are limited, decreasing crop yields have led to famines. Desertification and other forms of land degradation have led to migration. Furthermore, the rise in sea levels has already spurred the first permanent displacement of small island inhabitants in the Pacific....The number of deaths from weather-related disasters and gradual environmental degradation due to climate change is expected to jump to about 500,000 people per year. (Source)
I certainly hope so. It's the future outcome I'm working my ass off for.
I'd like to leave you with this video, which is a first-hand account of Alaskan teens on how climate change is threatening their village (via Twilight Earth):
Cultures Threatened as Climate Changes
Climate Change Art Destroys All Humans
The Problem With the Green Movement
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