At times it seems that we are being pulled in all directions when it comes to what should concern us. However, there is little doubt that climate change is undoubtedly one of the big problems that need to be considered. Each year leading experts try to prioritize and rank by gravity the issues that we should be trying to deal with. The top climate risks this year are seen as a triple threat and can bring devastation in the immediate short-term to countries that already have several other problems that they are trying to manage.
Flooding is a Huge Concern
Flooding risks are significantly increasing, especially across some of the largest cities in America. We have known for some time that flooding is one of the biggest climate crises the world will face; however, the progress has expedited significantly, and the dangers are now imminent and worse than initially thought. The problem is threefold: heavy rainfall, humidity, rising sea levels, and violent storms are becoming more frequent, all combining to cause mayhem. The biggest issue is the rising water levels get no time to be absorbed back into the seas before the issue overwhelms the area. In America, some of the cities listed now as critical include Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and San Diego.
Rising Defence Costs
The cost of flood defenses and the repairs from storm damage is already increasing dramatically. With approximately 40% of people in the US living in coastal areas, the problem is set to worsen, and in New York City alone, the issues are thought to be double what was estimated just 60 years ago. Scientists in the 1940s said that a storm that created a four-foot-sized wave and rainfall of 5 inches or more combining at the same time would only happen once every century. They now say this cataclysmic event could occur once every 42 years meaning that some centuries would see such devastating weather conditions more than twice in 100 years.
We have to remember that these events are linked, and the impact of one has a knock-on effect on the other. So as sea levels continue to rise, the frequency of storms becomes higher as a direct result. Additionally, each storm creates further flooding build-up, and the rate at which it naturally drains away goes down. The idea that a weather situation could submerge New York City underwater seemed pretty unlikely; however, experts now predict that one single surge storm could be responsible for this exact outcome. As they try to develop a rescue plan, it is clear to see precisely how devastating climate change can be. Using historical data, tide gauges, and weather forecasts, experts can analyze the data to see exactly how fast things are progressing.
East or West
Previously it has been suggested that areas along the east coast will suffer the highest risks with storm surges and hefty rainfall. It is thought that the West Coast may fare slightly better. However, global sea levels are set to rise by 4 feet across the globe, according to the United Nations science panel. One further threat that is often overlooked is the rate at which the ice sheets are melting in western Antarctica, which will only exacerbate the problem.
The Grass May Not Be Greener
As if all of this was not concerning enough, the phenomena of the increase in extreme storms are known as La Nina. And sadly, even some countries not affected by flooding will see the devastation on the flipside in weather patterns. This means that dryer, desert-like weather with an increase in temperatures will prevail, and some areas in South America are most likely to suffer. The knock-on of this dry, hot situation is an even more considerable risk from wildfires. While Oceania and Australia will become colder and wetter and have to deal with the problems surrounding storms and flooding, the horn of Africa will become rife with famine and drought. This looks to put pressure on an already difficult political situation with areas like Ethiopia and Somalia most at risk.
Over in Argentina, the biggest issue they will face is the soybean crop which relies on a steady rainfall to grow. Without this valuable commodity, the economy will suffer negatively. Even areas like the Caribbean are at risk of problems due to climate change. There has already been an increase in earthquakes and hurricanes, and a downturn in weather will see a fall in tourism which is their mainstay for commercial enterprise. Already the area has seen a 2/3 decline in economic growth year-on-year because of natural disasters since about 1980. There is no clear path for them to be able to mitigate these losses as tourism remains the primary trade. Thus, the Climate Crisis is not just a problem because of the devastation it causes. Still, in trying to counteract and recover from mother nature, economic issues become paramount right across the globe.