Global warming has been taking money right out of people's pockets, and most people don’t even realize it, causing climate changes that are costing people all over the world more money each day, whether it is due to increased health care cost, increased food cost and even increased insurance cost.
In each year, the rise in temperature may seem minute, but it all adds up to a major impact, causing an abundance of problems worldwide. It leads to droughts which are not only detrimental on their own but also make the land easier access for a wildfire.
It impacts human wellness with extreme high temperatures causing illness and death, with slowed food production, and with bacterial problems with both food and water. It impacts weather with increasingly catastrophic patterns, causing storms of unprecented magnitude. Global warming is already having direct and indirect effects on the U.S. economy and human health, and this is just the beginning.
Drought has had a major impact on America, mainly in the West. Because global warming causes higher temperatures, this means more evaporation from lakes and rivers, as well from plants and crops. With long, dry spells, forest and dried up grass, fields are more apt to catch fire. Not only will it cause a wildfire, these fire will be more intense, faster spreading and far more dangerous than anything that has been seen in the past. Wildfires cause damage to land, habitats, homes and cities. This all comes with a price.
In California, the most recent wildfire is estimated to be 3 billion dollars of clean up. This doubles in biggest clean up previously, which came in at 1.3 billion in 2017. Insurance payouts are expected to reach about 11.8 billion for victims of the wildfire. The nationwide loss due to this fire will end some around 350 billion. Since wildfires are being amplified by global warming, it can be expected that the health effects will do the same. Most of these effects are caused by the smoke from the fire, not the fire itself. Particulate matter is a big threat, PM is the small particles and droplets of liquid (“What is Particulate Matter”). These particles can be as small as 10 micrometers and the smaller they are the more dangerous they are to humans. They can get into deep parts of the lung, affecting the heart and respiratory system, causing heart attacks, asthma, irregular heartbeat, and decreased lung function (“Health and Environmental Effects of Particulate Matter (PM)”).
Global warming is drying up areas at an exponential rate. This is causing a 9 billion dollar loss in the US annually. Though this is mainly concentrated in the west, it is taking tolls across America. In mountainous western regions there is less snow expected each year, and what does come melts earlier each spring. There is less snow and more precipitation caused by warmer temperatures, however, this also means that transpiration and evaporation also happen at a quicker rate. This can lead to droughts across the west and south west, affecting food prices and amounts. The most endangering dorught to the population is an agricultural drought. “agricultural drought when available water supplies are not able to meet crop water demands” (Causes of Drought: What's the Climate Connection?). If there is not enough water to meet plant needs there would be less food produced, and therefore lead to a rise in food prices.
Grocery prices have been rising dramatically for the past few years and no one has stopped to ask why. The Guardian states that “…global warming has harmed the world's food production and has driven up food prices by as much as 20% over recent decades.” The blame can be traced back to higher temperatures leading to dehydration, slowed photosynthesis and even impacts plants life cycle and reproduction. Because of increased temperatures, evaporation happens faster, leaving usable water. This does not affect just one sector of the weekly grocery either, but rather is a chain reaction. If not enough corn is produced, then there is not enough for the cows to eat; if there are less cows or they are not fed as well, then there will be worse and less meat products. As well, if they are not healthy, they will not produce as much milk, leading to a drop in dairy products and a rise in cost.
Rising prices of greek yogurt are not even close to what could be the most dangerous part of global warming. As earth’s temperature rise, old diseases are resurrected and new ones are born. In July 2016, SIberia had just experienced the hottest summer on record, topping thirty degrees Celsius, as opposed to the usual seventeen. This caused a seventy-five year old reindeer carcass to melt and the pathogens inside it to revive and find a new host. The disease, anthrax, is almost always fatal and mainly infects animals. Two thousand reindeer died, and a handful of people fell ill as well (“5 Deadly Diseases Emerging from Global Warming”). Zombie diseases, like smallpox, can live deep within permafrost in countries like Canada and Russia, and, as the permafrost thaws, these diseases make their way out into the world. Also, as termperatues rise, viruses that thrive in warmer weather will be less condensed to just one area, leading to wider spread of diseases like the Zika virus, which is minor in an adult but disasterious to a fetus.
The insect population and patterns are also changing, impacting both food supply and health. “According to the study, wheat, which is typically grown in cool climates, will suffer the most, as increased temperatures will lead to greater insect metabolism, as well as increased pest populations and survival rates over the winter” (Global Warming: More Insects, Eating More Crops). As cooler climates become warmer, it will be easier for insects to reproduce and survive, skyrocketing their population. Longer warmer seasons and the change in rainfall patterns create a more suitable habitat for bugs, like mosquitoes. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, and do especially well in warm temperatures. Mosquitoes are also some of the most impactful disease carriers on the planet, just one unnoticed prick of the skin can lead to a multitude of diseases. “West Nile, now the most common mosquito-borne illness in the United States, is spread when mosquitoes bite infected birds and then go on to bite humans” (Climate Change Bites). This and other diseases, like the zika virus, will likely become much more prominent in the future.
Climate change is getting so destructive that insurance companies are being forced to pay huge amounts of claims. Natural disasters are becoming more common and more dangerous, floods wildfires and hurricanes do not only happen more often but cause more damage to the land than they have in years past. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “in 2008, Farmers Insurance stopped writing and renewing homeowners policies in North Carolina. That same year, State Farm – Florida’s largest insurer- stopped writing new policies in the state for several years.” In North Carolina, climate change is causing flooding due to the extreme rains. Rivers and lakes overflow, running off and cause flooding. The insurance companies are creating a backlash at local government, accusing them of not properly taking care of their infrastructure. The Los Angeles reported “… nine class-action lawsuits filed by insurance company Illinois Farmers against cities and counties for failing to take steps to prevent losses related to climate change.”
Global warming is taking the world by storm, somewhat literally. With temperature changes, ocean rises, occurrence of natural disasters, disease, debt, people are looking for a solution. There are a few things that everyday people can do to lessen the blow. For starters, each person simply eat what they buy. According to NRDC, about 10% of America’s energy goes to processing and packaging food, and about 40% of food bought goes to the landfill (“How You Can Stop Global Warming”). Other things people can do included solar panels, or if they are not interested in a big investment like that, switching to a renewable energy company. Though this will help the conscience, it is difficult to get everyone on board when the cheaper, easier options are still avialable. This is why big time companies anf factories need to make a switch. By building a clean energy country it will make poeple more likely to switch over too, so that they will be a ble to see hte change first an hand and want to be a part of it. The United States is creating a blue print for a clean engery economy. Using renewable resoures like solar power, and windturbines
Some may say that climate change and global warming are not real. They are made up by hippies or the uneducated, and that climate change is natural and the world goes through different phases. The world does in fact go through different phases, like ice ages (glacials) and warming periods (interglacials). The earth has gone through five major glacials (“How Often Do Ice Ages Happen”). These occurs in patterns. Laura Geggel writes, “During the beginning of the Quaternary glaciation, from 2.7 million to 1 million years ago, these cold glacial period have occurred every 41,000 years” (How Often Do Ice Ages Happen). This raises the questions of why does it matter? This is a natural phase of the planet, in consideration of the amount of sunlight, tilt of the earth and other factors that play in. However, what it is going through right now is unprecedented. Due to the timeline, the earth should be going into another glacial period right now; obviously that is not happening. It does not look like it will happen any time soon, or for another 100,000 years in fact (“How Often Do Ice Ages Happen”). This is not all to do with natural conditions not lining up. This is caused by global warming, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.
Global warming is bringing about climate change at an unprecedented rate. From impacts on available clean drinking water and food to wildfires and flash floods, it visibly affects the quality of lifes on a daily basis, but there is an unseen impact to our pocketbooks each day.