The life of humankind depends on the planet on which people live, its resources, and its conditions. However, with their activities, people constantly change the climate of the Earth. Overwhelming evidence of climate change confirms both the current impacts on agricultural productivity, food security, and the well-being of many countries, as well as the extraordinary future risks to sensitive marine and extreme terrestrial ecosystems. Nevertheless, the opinions of climatologists and other people are divided – some believe that climate change is a natural process, some do not notice changes, and finally, the part considers changes as a threat to humanity. Despite conflicting opinions, there are many signs that climate change is dangerous and creates many economic, environmental, and social problems.
Climate Change, Its Evidence, and Causes
Part of climate change occurs regularly – changing seasons, monsoons, changes in ocean flows, and similar phenomena. Such changes are natural, and their regularity is a sign of stability. Climate changes are differences in the course of these natural conditions, such as shifting the dates of seasons or more frequent extreme events like floods, wildfires, or storms. While 90-to-100 percent of climate experts conclude that such climate change as global warming is happening and is caused by human activity, only 53 percent of Americans agree with the same statement (Nuccitelli, 2020). Such data indicate that the public is not sufficiently aware of the problem yet.
Several signs serve as evidence of the reality of change. For example, temperature indicators collected using an instrumental and natural thermometer over a period indicate that the planet is warming. The thermometer was invented at the beginning of the 18th century and quickly became a popular tool for scientists (Nuccitelli, 2020). As a result, air temperature increased by 1 degree Celsius since the 19th century – a fast pace compared to a rise of 4-6 degrees, which occurred within 10,000 years after the ice age. (Nuccitelli, 2020).
At the same time, the water temperature has also changed and accumulated ten zeta joules of heat for the last quarter of a century (Nuccitelli, 2020). Finally, other indicators are natural thermometers, such as sea level, which has risen because of melted glaciers and thermal expansion (“Climate change,” 2021). Moreover, the reduced volume of sea ice and the shift is also significant.
Evidence suggests human involvement in climate change; for example, the use of fossil fuel increases the greenhouse effect. Changes in carbon dioxide levels are monitored through studies of modern air and air in ice cores, thereby covering 800,000 years (“Climate change,” 2021). As a result of the increase in CO2 level, the Earth cannot draw down greenhouse gases, and as of 2020-2021, the concentration reached the highest position (“Climate change,” 2021). At the same time, alternative causes like the sun or ocean cycles do not have any compared effect (Nuccitelli, 2020). Thus, people are the leading cause of threatening climate change.
Impact of Climate Change on Agricultural Productivity
Agriculture is the area in which climate characteristics have a significant impact on production volumes. Agriculture is at the head of the provision of food to humankind. At the same time, natural-climatic and weather conditions are in the first place among the factors that must be taken into account as influencing the industry when considering the prospects and potential for agricultural development. For example, an undervalued drought can significantly reduce expected production volumes. Global warming also leads to soil degradation as a result of droughts, floods, and flattering fires. Climate change will increasingly affect global food security and lead to food shortages due to deteriorating agricultural conditions.
Any change in climate conditions affects agriculture, but the impact is not uniform. According to Gupta et al. (2021), the effect of climate change on agronomy is assessed differently in different world regions. JonasLabee (2020) also claims that countries with arid or tropical climates experience a negative impact on agricultural production, while countries with temperate climates benefit from global warming. Such anomalies are confusing and cause difficulties for specialists involved in the cultivation of various crops.
Another unfavorable consequence of global warming is an increase in the frequency of weather anomalies. Moreover, there is an increase in the populations of heat-loving pest species and the spread of weeds and pathogens of dangerous plant and animal diseases. Changes manifest in various ways; for example, there are storms instead of the usual rains in certain regions. At the same time, dry areas become even more dehydrated, and heavy showers lead to flooding. An increase in temperature promotes the expansion of an area of cultivation of some agricultures. However, these circumstances also increase the habitat of pests, for example, locusts. Even a slight increase in temperature allows them to survive in territories that were previously unsuitable for them. Aridity in a particular region, in turn, can limit the ability to grow other species.
Thus, there is a downward trend in agricultural productivity associated with climate change. Agriculture was, is, and will be one of the most weather-dependent sectors, so specialists are forced to adapt to the new situation. Each region has its conditions, so it is impossible to give universal advice on reducing the risks of adverse weather effects. Considering the specifics of each area, specialists should apply new working technologies and make changes to the processes. Moreover, making predictions is more challenging in an increasingly changing climate, contributing to more agriculture complications.
The Dependence of Food Security and Human Well-Being on Climate Change
The influence of climate change on food security and human well-being is tremendous. Food security implies the physical and economic availability of quality food that is sufficient to maintain human health and activity (“Agriculture and food security,” 2021). However, there is a significant gap between rich and poor in the world, and the latter group includes hungry and malnourished people. Climate change worsens the situation and causes excessive damage to the starving part of the world’s population. Food insecurity is among acute global problems and concerns the entire world community. To address it, as well as climate change on a worldwide scale, a joint effort by all countries is needed.
The decline in crop yields described above, which occurs in the context of climate change, has a significant impact on food prices. In particular, there are difficulties due to changes in the weather in the regions, and its unpredictability complicates adaptation. Moreover, some agricultural fields can be flooded with salt water due to rising sea levels, which will destroy part of the crops (“How climate change threatens,” 2019). This situation has a negative impact on global food security. Gupta et al. (2021) note a substantial increase in food prices in developing countries. As a result, low-income people who already had limited access to food suffer.
Food security depends on the success of adapting agricultural systems to new climatic and weather phenomena. Even as countries’ food systems are closely linked, and anomalies in one region affect everyone, developing countries are less likely to adapt to change and suffer more than others. The situation is complicated by the fact that unusual natural phenomena also prevent the safety of products. For example, heavier rain can lead to dangerous mold in the crop, increasing food waste.
Besides difficulties in the availability of food, nutrition, and nutritional value also change. Less food involves skipping meals, and as a result, people do not receive enough nutrients. Moreover, climate change also affects the quality of the products themselves. High carbon dioxide emissions reduce the number of valuable elements in products – iron, zinc, and protein (“How climate change threatens,” 2019). Consequently, more people will suffer from a lack of these elements, which will increase their susceptibility to diseases. It is worth considering that livestock, which gives part of the food, also depends on the nutritional value of crops, and its changes affect them.
Climate change impacts human well-being not only by affecting access to nutritious food but also by providing new health threats. Maintaining health requires clean air and water, nutrition, and safety that are compromised by climate change. For example, high temperatures can lead to heat shock and even premature death from heart and lung disease (“Climate change and health,” 2018). Moreover, a high temperature increases the amount of pollen that plants produce, worsening allergy symptoms. Another example is particulate matter, the concentration of which increases due to air pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels (“Climate effects on health,” 2021). They reduce lung function, exacerbate asthma, and increase hospital admissions due to respiratory problems.
There are other manifestations of harm to human health due to climate change. JonasLabee (2020) notes that reducing the ozone layer misses more ultraviolet (UV) rays that are harmful to health. They can impair vision, provoke cataract problems and snow blindness. Moreover, the effects of intense exposure to UV rays include aging skin, weakening immunity, allergies, and even skin cancer (JonasLabee, 2020). Thus, the more climate changes, the more threats to human health will arise.
Weather anomalies and natural disasters have a negative impact on safety. For example, people’s homes are destroyed as a result of floods or tornadoes. Such destruction or other reasons, like droughts, force them to move in search of better conditions. Another threat comes from changing infection patterns – more diseases are transmitted through water and rapidly breeding insects (“Climate change and health,” 2018). As with the problem of food safety, the health of the entire world population is at risk, but some groups suffer more than others.
Effect of Climate Change on the Sensitive Marine and Extreme Terrestrial Ecosystems
Climate change is a danger for the ecosystem on Earth, both on land and in the seas. Chen (2021) notes that the impacts of climate change on sensitive marine and extreme terrestrial ecosystems are expected earlier and more severe. These include sensitive tropical coral reefs and harsh conditions in the European Alps and the Arctic, focusing on snow and permafrost. Climate change will have terrible consequences for animals and existing ecosystems.
Rising planet temperatures threaten the planet’s biodiversity, its ecosystems, and various species living there. For example, global warming is killing corals, and the Great Barrier Reef is already in critical condition (Chen, 2021; Page, 2021). Animals and plants are affected not only by rising temperatures but also by other phenomena – natural disasters and human activity destroy their places of residence. At the same time, some animals move their habitats to conditions more comfortable for them, but not all can do this. For example, the melting of ice in the Arctic negatively affects the animals living there – walruses, polar bears, and other species, but they cannot move (Page, 2021). Given people’s dependence on the environment and ecosystems, it is their interest to rectify the situation.
Some species may adapt, but there are additional factors that hinder this process. For example, when animals seek other habitats with more usual weather conditions, farms and trails built by people can block their path. Some species adapt by changing the color of the plumage or wool. However, such changes occur slowly, and with the current rate of warming, most species will not be able to adapt and will probably not survive. Approximate forecasts suggest that by 2070 a third of the varieties will disappear (Page, 2021). However, more accurate assumptions are difficult to make since the consequences may be unpredictable, and the disappearance of one species may entail several more.
Finding solutions to these problems is quite difficult since an integrated approach is needed. Some options include creating corridors to facilitate migration, agriculture management, less meat consumption, the active promotion of natural renewal, and artificial rehabilitation. However, the protection of species diversity must correlate with climate protection. Usually, these phenomena are considered separately, and more effort is paid to the climate. However, some initiatives as biofuels can help protect the climate and are harmful to diversity (Page, 2021). For this reason, people should search other approaches that can address both problems rather than solve one aggravating the other. Thus, it is essential to discuss and resolve environmental protection issues since climate change destroys many ecosystem elements.
Climate change is among the most topical global problems which influence both nature and society. It reduces agricultural productivity, raises food security issues, affects the well-being of many countries, and poses risks to sensitive marine and extreme terrestrial ecosystems. An instrument and natural thermometer give evidence of climate change. The rate of temperature increase has accelerated since the 19th century, which causes events such as natural disasters, shifts in seasons, and other phenomena.
Among the main consequences of the changes in the impact on agriculture, which is the primary food source for people. Due to sharp changes in the environment and unpredictable weather, crop cultivation suffers. As a result, human food security necessary for well-being is also severely affected. Food becomes less and less accessible and loses significant nutritional elements. The problem disproportionately affects societies, and developing countries, with low-income families, suffer more. Besides lack of nutrition, human health is also negatively affected by increased ultraviolet rays and high temperature, reducing immunity and leading to other consequences.
Scientists also suggest that climate change will occur faster than ecosystems can adapt and recover. As a result of global warming, habitats of different species are changing, which has significant consequences. Some species may spread due to more favorable conditions for them. Other animals and plants will suffer, as it is unknown whether they will adapt to new conditions at all. However, the most catastrophic consequences of global warming are for polar animals that cannot adjust or find another habitat. People should take comprehensive measures to solve problems to save the future of the planet.
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