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Climate Change: Causes and Consequences, and the Issue of Social Collapse

Causes and consequences of global warming

It is generally accepted that the main cause of global warming is greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse effect resulting from heating the atmosphere with thermal energy held by greenhouse gases is a crucial process regulating the Earth’s temperature. Carbon dioxide (CO2) takes the largest share of all greenhouse gases, being responsible for global warming along with the others, for instance, methane and nitrous oxide. There are several reasons why these days there has been observed more air pollution than in the 20th century. First of all, it happens due to burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas at power plants, in internal combustion engines. The other roots of climate change are forest area reduction, decomposition of organic matter in waste dumping ground, and the booming livestock sector. Deforestation and reclamation of marshlands that could accumulate CO2 also enhance the climate crisis. Approximately 80,000 acres of rainforest are cut down every day, mostly for the timber or agricultural industry.

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Climate change destroys all favorable environments in which human civilization has been developing. According to some estimates, human activity leads to a temperature rise of about 1°C compared with the pre-industrialized time (Donnelly et al. 15). Studies warn that if people are not able to stop the temperature increase by 1.5°C, the results will be disastrous (Donnelly et al. 26). Since the nature of the interaction processes is complex, it is difficult to predict what will happen. In fact, due to humidity and heat, the tropics become uninhabited for at least some time in the year.

Weather, agriculture, biodiversity, infrastructure will be under threat for the foreseeable future. In some parts of the world, hurricanes and floods are more likely to occur, while in others, the risks of droughts are growing. Concerning Sea Level Rise, whole cities and countries might go underwater, and other territories will become unfit for human habitation because of the extreme heat. A large part of glaciers in the Himalayas, which used to be the water source for more than a billion people, are likely to disappear (Gallina et al. 127). Billions of people can face severe water or food shortages; consequently, many of them can migrate to more inhabited areas. Food deficiency and lack of potable water also may cause an escalation of armed conflicts, increasing the number of refugees.

Climate change in terms of the social collapse

Denying climate change build up the likelihood of a global catastrophe. Human activity is considered the principal cause of global warming. The more rapid the development of technology is, the higher the burden people put on the environment. The methods of extraction of mineral resources, vehicles, and other technologies are being improved annually, but the environmental friendliness of their use is not proven. Hence people start asking themselves why humanity had never thought before about the possible environmental damage and how it turned out that people’s actions have led to the threat to all humankind?

It appears to forget the experience that happened a long time ago. Diamond illustrates it through the example of the Oil Crisis in 1973 when, for some years, Americans stopped using gas-guzzling cars (422). In contrast, nowadays, SUVs have become part of everyday life despite the 1973 event. Sometimes it is hard to see a problem through a whole sequence of reasons. Society makes bad decisions because of the failure to anticipate a problem before it arises. Secondly, after perceiving the problem, the attempts to solve it may be unsuccessful. According to Diamond, people wreak ecological damage out of ignorance, forgetting of the likely consequences (419). The problem of climate change is the most prominent example of the most typical circumstances when people cannot perceive the possible risks.

Global warming has a form of a slow trend concealed by wide up-and-down fluctuations. “With large and unpredictable fluctuations, it has taken a long time to discern the average upwards trend of 0.01 degree per year within that noisy signal” (Diamond 425). Climate change is climate variations of the Earth over time, expressed in statistically significant deviations of mean temperature from long-term values ​​over millions of years. People can realize the changes only in a few decades. The term creeping normalcy, being widespread among politicians, refers to upward trends veiled by small fluctuations (Diamond 426). Another issue is the conflict of interest between politics and citizens, and the related phenomenon of climate change denial. It is a set of organized attempts to downplay, reject, or declare non-existent scientific consensus on the extent of global warming, its dangers, and its sequels based on commercial or ideological purposes.

Climate change is a global problem that cannot be solved by the efforts of one or more states. All countries should participate in the search for comprehensive solutions to this issue, regardless of the economic situation. It is necessary to be ready for climate change issues. By all means, adaptation measures are currently being implemented in the regions suffering from the consequences of global warming – these are, first of all, small island states and coastal areas. However, the list of risks from climate change for any country should encourage the authorities to adopt adequate plans to eliminate environmental harm. With the competent development and timely implementation of programs for climate change adaptation, it would be possible to reduce the damage and to derive some economic benefits.

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Works Cited

Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive. 2nd ed., Viking Press, 2011.

Donnelly, Chantal, et al. “Impacts of climate change on European hydrology at 1.5, 2 and 3 degrees mean global warming above pre-industrial level.” Climatic Change, no. 143, 2017, pp. 13-26.

Gallina, Valentina, et al. “A review of multi-risk methodologies for natural hazards: Consequences and challenges for a climate change impact assessment.” Journal of environmental management, no. 168, 2016, pp. 123-132.

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