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The Effects of Climate Change: The Global Cost

The consistent increase in global temperatures is detrimental to all ecosystems on the planet, both natural and manmade. The marine life that lives in the shallow regions of the sea will either be forced out or become endangered because most of the heat absorbed by the ocean occurs in the first few meters below the surface. Glacial ice will continue to melt, causing sea levels to rise. Wildfires will burn hotter and longer. Tropical storms will become more powerful, frequent, and persistent. The seasonal equilibrium is shifting, resulting in colder winters followed by warmer summers in one area, and warmer winters followed by colder summers in another part of the globe. All of these changes in the ecosystem not only affect the natural world but the manmade one as well. Human society takes some of the biggest losses in the wake of global warming including, but not limited to, the loss of domestic land, economic stability, and the population.

In 2018, wildfires on the west coast of the U.S. claimed roughly 348,869 acres of land (Geographic Area Coordination Centers), forcing wildlife to migrate to other areas, some of which is populated by humans. In the following year, the Amazon Rainforest burned for over two weeks, and the environmental and socioeconomic effects have yet to be fully realized. Both of these fires have the capability of increasing the density of the ozone layer of the atmosphere, metaphorically “fanning the flames” of global warning. Climate change is melting the cryosphere, the portion of the earth that consists of the global glacier ice and snow. This in turn is causing the global sea levels to rise and is exposing new lands in the Arctic and Antarctic. According to Andrew Carpenter, ice-dependent species like polar bears and reindeer will experience a population decline as their food options disappear, and humans in the Arctic will become more vulnerable to coastal erosion and face having to relocate their communities away from coastlines. Since glacier ice and snow is on the decline, low-lying and coastal cities are experiencing a rise in sea levels. New York City for example has multiple areas that are flood-prone during normal rainfall conditions and stormy weather. An increase in sea level, in addition to already flood-prone conditions, might have citizens questioning if they are living in a present-day “Atlantis”.

These natural disasters, intensified by global warning, affect all of mankind, but in different ways: more developed countries and economies will suffer less than their poorer counterparts. In 1960, the Philippines, considered to be a developing country at the time, was struck by Typhoon Olive. The storm killed 104 people, left over 500 people missing, and cost property damages into the millions (U.S. Fleet Weather Central, 1960). In the following year, Japan, considered to be a developed country, was hit by Typhoon Nancy. Nancy claimed 172 lives, left 18 missing, injured 3,184, and caused upwards of $500 million in damage (U.S. Fleet Weather Central, 1961). The same countries in 2018 have different statistics. Typhoon Trami hit Japan and left 4 people dead, injured 200, and caused damages in excess of $2 million USD (Kyodo News). Trami also caused extensive damage in the Philippines: 127 were reported dead, 111 people were missing, and roughly $630 million USD in damages were caused (Girlie Linao).

In 1966, Nepal was struck by an earthquake that killed approximately 100 people, injured approximately 100 people, and caused nearly $8 million USD in damages, adjusted for inflation (Morgan Friedman). There was an earthquake on the western coast of the United States in 1971 that killed 65, injured 2,000, and caused the loss of about $31 billion USD, adjusted for inflation (Friedman;1National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The same regions were again struck by earthquakes almost 50 years later. In 2016, on the eastern tip of India, an earthquake killed 10, injured almost 100, and caused $75 million USD in damages. In 2019, the United States endured another earthquake, and while it did not kill nor injure anyone, it still caused $5 billion USD in damages (2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

These events indicate that in over approximately 60 years, developed countries appear to have figured out a way to reduce the number of deaths that occur after a natural disaster, and the less developed countries appear to be lagging. While both are still faced with the cost to rebuild, for less developed countries, these losses continue to hold their countries in stagnation. However, the developed countries have enough resources and infrastructure established to handle a crisis or emergency with just minor cuts and scrapes, as opposed to poorer countries, where such damages are comparable to losing a limb. The secret to the developed countries’ success is the implementation of mitigation, adaptation of more efficient methods, and the use of alternative resources.

Bibliography

Carpenter, Andrew. “The Global Impacts of Arctic Sea Ice Loss.” The Student Conservation Association, 19 Dec. 2017, www.thesca.org/connect/blog/global-impacts-arctic-sea-ice-loss?gclid=CjwKCAiA5JnuBRA-EiwA-0ggPbJ8Tom59NpK2nLUTbfStfSflKsvBQ7kBmmH4-CZODSxFgIWmMPCYxoCmVUQAvD_BwE.

Friedman, Morgan. “The Inflation Calculatoer.” The Inflation Calculator, 2018, westegg.com/inflation/.

Geographic Area Coordination Centers. “National Large Incident Year-to-Date Report.” U.S. YTD Large Incident List, 12 Nov. 2019, gacc.nifc.gov/sacc/predictive/intelligence/NationalLargeIncidentYTDReport.pdf.

Kyodo News. “2 Dead, over 150 Injured as Powerful Typhoon Wreaks Havoc in Japan.” Kyodo News+, KYODO NEWS+, 1 Oct. 2018, english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/10/c77e7d3970d2-powerful-typhoon-wreaks-havoc-in-japan-2-dead-about-100-injured.html.

Linao, Girlie. “Typhoon Mangkhut Death Toll Hits 127.” PerthNow, PerthNow, 22 Sept. 2018, www.perthnow.com.au/news/disaster-and-emergency/typhoon-mangkhut-death-toll-hits-127-ng-s-1893646.

1National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Significant Earthquake Search, 2019,

Region Code = 60. www.ngdc.noaa.gov/nndc/struts/results?bt_0=1945&st_0=&type_17=EXACT&query_17=60&op_12=eq&v_12=&type_12=Or&query_14=None+Selected&type_3=Like&query_3=&st_1=&bt_2=&st_2=&bt_1=&bt_4=&st_4=&bt_5=&st_5=&bt_6=&st_6=&bt_7=&st_7=&bt_8=&st_8=&bt_9=&st_9=&bt_10=&st_10=&type_11=Exact&query_11=&type_16=Exact&query_16=&bt_18=&st_18=&ge_19=&le_19=&type_20=Like&query_20=&display_look=1&t=101650&s=1&submit_all=Search+Database.

2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Significant Earthquake Search, 2019, Region Code = 150. https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/nndc/struts/results?bt_0=1945&st_0=&type_17=EXACT&query_17=150&op_12=eq&v_12=&type_12=Or&query_14=None+Selected&type_3=Like&query_3=&st_1=&bt_2=&st_2=&bt_1=&bt_4=&st_4=&bt_5=&st_5=&bt_6=&st_6=&bt_7=&st_7=&bt_8=&st_8=&bt_9=&st_9=&bt_10=&st_10=&type_11=Exact&query_11=&type_16=Exact&query_16=&bt_18=&st_18=&ge_19=&le_19=&type_20=Like&query_20=&display_look=1&t=101650&s=1&submit_all=Search+Database

U.S. Fleet Weather Central/ Joint Typhoon Warning Center. “1960atcr.Pdf.” 1960. https://www.metoc.navy.mil/jtwc/products/atcr/1960atcr.pdf

U.S. Fleet Weather Central/ Joint Typhoon Warning Center. “1961atcr.Pdf.” 1961. https://www.metoc.navy.mil/jtwc/products/atcr/1961atcr.pdf

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