The topic of Climate Change is a much talked about and often controversial topic in contemporary America. It stirs passionate debate on both sides of the argument, those that are convinced that it is our activity on this planet that is hastening its arrival, and those that vehemently deny any human fault in the changing climate. Both camps have gone to great and at times over the top lengths to prove their argument correct. For the most part, the argument that climate change is happening seems to be winning the day. Evidence is abundant in the erratic weather that the world is experiencing, from record droughts to devastating and more frequent floods, the picture is clear, climate change has arrived, the only intertwined questions are, are we to blame? and Can we do anything about it? This article will explore the effect that climate change is having on far flung areas of the globe that are increasingly connected by their shared suffering at the hands of mother nature.
7. The Alps
The Alps, encompassing a significant portion of central Europe and the nations of Italy, Austria and Switzerland have begun to feel the effect of a warmer world due to climate change. Over the last 50 years, the Alps have lost as much as 40% of their snow and ice. This is a region that relies heavily on ski tourism, without snow and ice, the industry will suffer and jobs will be lost. That is not the greatest threat posed by the shrinking ice. Alpine glaciers retain a large percentage of fresh water, without them numerous countries will suffer from water stress and subsequent food shortages as farming and agriculture is affected by the lack of water.
The great city of Venice is a tourist attraction that few other cities in the world can rival. Except maybe for Paris. Unfortunately, it’s sinking. Although not entirely due to climate change; shifting plate tectonics are one major cause, the melting of the polar ice caps is raising the sea levels worldwide. Particularly vulnerable is the city of Venice. Due to its precarious position by the sea, the Venetians and the entire world will have to come to terms with the sad reality that Venice will be engulfed by water a whole lot sooner than many of us had imagined. That means the great historical, artistic and cultural gem that is Venice will be lost to humanity forever, climate change doesn’t just threaten our food and water supply, it threatens our cherished collective history as a civilization.
5. New York City
This one hist much closer to home, The Big Apple. Though not traditionally associated with other areas under the threat of climate change, believe it or not, New York City is a bullseye for climate change. One cannot forget the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately for the Big Apple, Sandy was just the beginning. As the temperature of the planet increases, hurricanes are projected to get more frequent and more powerful. New York, like many cities along the coast with its low altitude is at great risk for flooding and eventual engulfment by the rising sea levels. As if getting drenched wasn’t enough, New York faces more frequent and longer lasting heatwaves in the future as well.
Siberia was once known as a place of banishment and imprisonment for political undesirables under the Czars and later the Communists. In the future it may be a place of liberation of the worst kind; that of methane gas. Typically people associate the rise of temperatures and climate change that follows with the emission of CO2 in the air. They are right, but methane is far more potent and polluting than CO2. Herein lies the perfect storm of climate change. As more and more CO2 gets pumped into the air, the expansive permafrost in Siberia is starting to melt and underneath it methane that has been trapped for thousands of years is waiting to be released. If it does, whatever current projections scientists have about the future effects of climate change will be irrelevant as we will be staring 2050 in the face today!
California is usually associated with the positive trends of beach culture and a generally laid back existence. This idyll has been shattered by the suffocating wild fires the state has thus far been subjected to. According to climate scientists the trend will only get worse. California being semi-arid to arid has always faced issues with water stress. Add in rising temperatures and you have a recipe for more misery and less relief. As the snow peaks in the Sierra Nevada retreat like so many others around the world, California will be subjected to an immense water stress situation. The fact that the state supplies America with 1/3 of fruit and vegetables consumed should only heighten the urgency to alleviate the climate issues endangering the most populous and richest by GDP state in the country.
2. The Amazon
The Amazon is known as the lungs of the planet. It supplies us with the Oxygen we need to well……survive for more than a couple of minutes. Unfortunately it too is becoming a victim of climate change. Through greedy cattle ranchers cutting down thousands of acres each year to make way for their short-sighted business interests, the Amazon is losing its ability to release O2 in the air and alleviate climate change. Oxygen cools down the atmosphere, but without trees releasing it and absorbing carbon, the greenhouse effect only increases. Scientists have projected that if the average temperature rises by more than 4 degrees celcius, the Amazon could lose up to 85% of it’s tree cover through drought and wild fires. With such a loss the effects of climate change on the rest of us will only be hastened.
Now you might think, if the Amazon is gone, what place could possibly be affected worse by climate change? All the other examples are future projections, some of which are starting to feel the beginning of climate change. The tiny Pacific island of Kiribati though could and most likely will be the first modern day nation to be entirely destroyed by the effects of climate change. Due to rising sea levels, the country of Kiribati has officially petitioned the UN to be evacuated and relocated somewhere else. Let that sink in for a moment, an entire population made homeless overnight, a country gone, no borders, no capital, nothing. The only evidence of its existence….the memories of the country’s refugee population. Climate change is on the verge of literally wiping nations off the map, what was once a perverted dream of megalomaniacs, to wipe out nations off the face of he earth is now being done by mother nature. And our oblivious everyday actions are contributing to this misery.