Droughts and Floods: The Effects of Climate Change on the World Leading up to 2050

·2-min read

In the next 30 years, climate change will profoundly affect life on Earth. According to research published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if the world does not reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050, the effects will likely be devastating.

The accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere could reach 540 parts per million. Consequently, the effects of global warming will likely lead to disease, water shortages, droughts, and torrential rains. Climate change is projected to endanger 5 billion people by 2050.

Rainfall

By 2050, about 22% of all major cities - the world's largest urban centres - face higher temperatures and serious risk of floods and droughts. Rainfall is predicted to be up to 7% more voluminous for each 1C increase across the planet.

London, for example, may not be a coastal city, but since it is surrounded by the River Thames and other tributaries, it is in danger of becoming flooded and submerged.

Projections also show that a rise of one metre in sea level will increase the chance of flood events by about 200 times in New York, and about 1,000 times in Kolkata.

Droughts

Tropical countries such as Brazil will suffer the most from climate change where both flooding and periods of long drought are expected.

In the case of the Amazon, the forecasts are terrifying: swathes of one of the most bio-diverse parts of the planet could be transformed from a humid forest that is rich in fauna and flora to a dry, savanna-like area with deteriorated pastures and grassland.

In addition, 350 million people are expected to suffer from water shortages due to droughts with prolonged dry spells harming livestock and agriculture around the world.

Disease

Climate change could also have a significant impact on humans when it comes to infectious diseases.

For example, high temperatures favour the spread of vector-borne pathogens that thrive in such climates.

Diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika - which use mosquitoes as vectors - are much more suited to such hot and humid habitats.

In addition, the heat accelerates the life cycle of the mosquito and intensifies the reproduction of the virus inside it, increasing the chances of contamination.

Climate change could also mean more than 51.3 million people living in West Africa will be at risk of contracting malaria in 2050.

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