Climate change due to global warming has tremendous effects on global society. A number of researchers have suggested that climate change is caused by multiple sources of contributors, as well as multiple detrimental effects, which require immediate attention and action. As publicly known, the biggest cause of climate change is by greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas is mostly emitted by human activity. The National Academy of Science, in their research in 2020, notes that direct measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and in air trapped in ice show that atmospheric CO2 increased by more than 40% from 1800 to 2019. The steep incline of CO2 is characterized by human activities, such as increase of automation, and production of machinery. CO2 is accumulated in the atmosphere, which traps the reflected heat from the sun, and warms up the global temperature. The heat trap, thus, causes changes in temperature, climate, and weather patterns that are abnormal. The described changes in climate result in detrimental effects and generate risks to human.
Some of the most severe and imminent among all the effects of climate change in the United States are as follows: frequent and severe extreme weather events and rising of sea level. Frequency and severity of extreme weather events in the United States have been increasing drastically, causing hundreds of billions of dollars of damages and recovery cost. In 2022, there were 18 weather or climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each that affected the United States. These events included one drought event, one flooding event, eleven severe storm events, three tropical cyclone events, one wildfire event, and one winter storm event. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 474 people, and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted. The 1980–2022 annual average is 7.9 events (CPI-adjusted); the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2018–2022) is 17.8 events (NCEI 2023). Fig1 suggests that occurrence of climate change-derived extreme weather events have a wide variety of events devastating all across America.
Rising of sea level is another significant effect of climate change. As sea levels rise, coastal areas are increasingly vulnerable to flooding and storm surges. In recent years, we have seen more frequent and severe coastal flooding events, which can lead to property damage, displacement of populations, and loss of infrastructure. Additionally, rising sea levels can cause saltwater to intrude into freshwater resources, such as aquifers and rivers. This can have negative impacts on agriculture and human health, as well as on ecosystems that rely on freshwater.
Climate change has severely burdened the US economically with extreme weather events, recovery, damages, and prevention processes. Some of the costliest natural disasters in the U.S. since 2000 are as follows: According to National Centers for Environmental Information, the costliest disaster was Hurricane Katrina, which occurred in 2005, causing $182.5 billion in damages. It caused 1,833 casualties. Hurricane Katrina is followed by Hurricane Harvey, which occurred in 2017, causing $141.3 billion in damages. Hurricane Harvey caused 89 casualties. Hurricane Maria in 2017 runs up the third place, with $101.7 billion, and causing 2,981 casualties.
Climate change has already left heavy marks in the US, causing billions of dollars worth of damage, and tens of thousands of people’s lives. To battle against the likelihood of another devastating natural disaster causing the loss of many and monetary losses, the people of America must be aware of the severity of the current environmental state and the effects of our activities. Not one person can singlehandedly present a cure for the environmental devastation that has taken place so far. However, the American people can collectively cooperate to contribute to slow down the severity of climate change, and possibly put a hold on it eventually. It may begin with using one less plastic bottle, walking to the nearby store instead of driving, and using less paper than necessary.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. (2022, July 27). Extreme Weather and Climate Change – Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. https://www.c2es.org/content/extreme-weather-and-climate-change/
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2023). https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/billions/