Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Corner: Around the world | News, Sports, Jobs


“Global climate change has a profound impact on the survival and development of humanity. It is a major challenge for all countries. – Hu Jintao

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The environmental and economic changes brought about by climate change don’t just affect us here in the United States; they have an impact on countries around the world. All regions are affected, but not in the same way.

This article provides a quick overview of the impact of climate change that is already being felt on ecosystems, economic sectors and the health and well-being of people in Europe, Asia, Australia, the Arctic and South America.

ASIA-PACIFIC is the most disaster-prone region in the world. While the poorest communities in this region contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions, they are the ones who feel the consequences of climate change the most. With vast coastlines, low-lying territories and many small island states, its geography makes it very sensitive to sea level rise and extreme weather events. Heat waves, floods and droughts affect all aspects of life, from nutrition and health to security and income.

In Bangladesh, nearly 18 million people living in coastal areas will lose their homes if sea levels rise by one meter. Indonesia is already considering moving its densely populated capital, Jakarta, inland to protect its residents from dangerous flooding.

Ocean acidification and coral bleaching, consequences of climate change, directly affect the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. As a result, food webs are altered and fish stocks collapse, endangering millions of lives and jobs in this region.

AUSTRALIA is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its vast arid and semi-arid areas, an already warm climate, large annual fluctuations in rainfall and existing pressures on the water supply.

In recent years, fires have burned across much of Australia with unprecedented intensity, extent and duration. The devastating fires caused the burning of 50 million acres, the deaths of 34 people, the destruction of thousands of buildings and the loss of millions of animals and their habitats.

At the same time, sea level has recently risen in and around Australia at a faster rate than at any time in the 20th century. The majority of the population lives along the coast. The region is likely to experience increased flooding and erosion of low-lying coastal areas. Higher storm surges will affect coastal communities, infrastructure, industries and the environment.

Severe weather events such as bushfires and droughts, salinization of freshwater supplies and coastal erosion all have significant consequences on the natural environment and ecosystems, leading to loss of biodiversity.

EUROPE is affected by climate change in different ways, depending on the region. Some of the more prevalent changes include loss of biodiversity, forest fires, declining crop yields and higher temperatures. It also affects the health of people; deaths have occurred as a result of flooding, heat waves and hypothermia caused by blizzards.

Europeans are not only exposed to the direct effects of climate change, but also vulnerable to the indirect effects of infectious diseases, many of which are climate sensitive. Climatic conditions have contributed to the expansion of the geographic range of tick vectors that transmit Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. Extreme rainfall has caused waterborne epidemics and longer summer seasons have contributed to the increase in foodborne illness

In the ARCTIC, things are heating up faster than the rest of the planet, and in an area where ice and snow are so prevalent, it has profound impacts. Data is increasingly showing that the Arctic as we know it is being replaced by a warmer, wetter and more variable environment.

Reduced snow cover alters the availability of habitat for microorganisms, plants and animals. Winter thaw and rain-on-snow episodes can damage vegetation, while freezing creates a layer of ice on vegetation that affects grazing conditions for animals such as caribou, reindeer and muskox. The thinning and loss of sea ice has many impacts on life in the Arctic, including disrupting the feeding platforms and life cycles of seals, polar bears and walruses. And in ANTARCTICA, emperor penguins recently saw their numbers decrease by 53%.

Meanwhile, in SOUTH AMERICA – From the icy peaks of Patagonia to the tropical wetlands of Brazil, worsening droughts this year are hitting farmers, closing ski slopes, disrupting public transport and driving up prices for everything from coffee to electricity. The levels of the Paran ‘River which runs through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina are so low that some herders keep cattle on dry river beds previously lined with barges carrying cargo. The raging forest fires in Paraguay have brought acrid smoke to their capital. Earlier this year, the historically precipitous cascades of Iguazu Falls on the Brazil-Argentina border were reduced to a relative drip.

All over the planet, mountain areas are expected to experience higher temperatures, forcing animals and plants to migrate to higher altitudes, putting their species at risk. Other regions will experience more droughts, more forest fires and less rains.

These changes endanger human health. Changes in rainfall patterns and higher temperatures affect agricultural productivity and food security. Low crop yields and high food prices make it increasingly difficult for people to feed their families ALL OVER THE WORLD.

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Linda Eve Seth, M. Ed, SLP is a mother, grandmother, concerned citizen and member of MOVCA.

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