Monday, August 10, 2015

The Consequences of a 2 Degree Celsius Increase in Global Average Temperatures

If you think that a 2 degree C increase in global average temperatures is not a significant change to alter the quality of life of million of people around the world, think again.  According to Stern (2006), the current concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere is 430 (ppm) which is about 1.5x more than the concentration level prior to industrialization.  If current pollution trends continue, he explains that in just a few more decades the world will be warmer likely reaching 550 ppm at which point worldwide average temperatures will increase by 2 degrees Celsius as estimated using climate models.

According to Stern, deaths associated with cold temperatures will decrease at higher latitudes regions but many more people will die worldwide from heat stress, malnutrition, dengue, fever, malaria and other related illnesses.  Stern points out that fatal scenarios such as deadly heat waves killing tens of thousand of people will be a dismal routine in just 35 years from now.  He further indicates that agricultural losses will reach tens of billion of dollars and marine ecosystems will suffer as a consequence of ocean acidification which in turn will negatively affect fish stocks.

An inherent problem associated with climate change, according to Stern, is that its impacts are unevenly distributed because those who will suffer the most right from the start are the poorest people and the poorest nations.  Stern points to some of the vulnerabilities of poor countries which include a variable rainfall, a dependency on the agricultural sector, inadequate health system, and (on average) they are today warmer than rich countries.

Climate change affect all of us and together we can take steps to reduce carbon emissions.  Stern lists four different ways that can help us improve environmental quality: adopting low-carbon techniques for transport, heat, and power; decreasing demand for pollution intensive products and services; increasing efficiency and avoiding deforestation.

If you would like to learn more about ways to reduce pollution, click on the links below.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=197911

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/threats-impacts/

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