Climate Change

Climate change will cause a cascade of catastrophes in the future: study

New study says that if something isn't done to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, people could be forced to cope with three to six hazards at once, instead of one

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 22 November 2018
Climate Change
A wildfire in California. Credit: Getty Images A wildfire in California. Credit: Getty Images

A new study has warned that if something isn't done to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, people could be forced to cope with three to six natural disasters at once in the not-so-distant future, instead of one.

The research was published on November 19 in the journal Nature Science.

In the study, researchers identified 467 distinct ways in which society is already being impacted by increasing climate extremes, and then elaborated on how these threats are likely to compound on top of each other in the decades ahead.

The team of 23 scientists reviewed more than 3,000 scientific peer-reviewed scientific papers. They examined the impact on human health, food supplies, water, economy, infrastructure, and security due to rising temperatures, drought, heat waves, wildfires, precipitation, floods, powerful storms, sea level rise and changes in land cover and ocean chemistry.

The researchers also note that in some cases, the compounding of threats on top of each other is already happening currently.

In the US state of Florida, climate change is feeding more heat waves, heavier downpours, stronger hurricanes and sea level rise leading to more heat-related health issues, wind and water damage to infrastructure, water quality issues, increased algae blooms and economic loss from damage and decreased production.

In the state of California, the combination of heat, drought and wildfires threaten lives and health, water resources, food production and infrastructure. In recent years, an increase in heat and drought has helped fuel some of the largest fires in recent history.

The research also said that longer-term and more extreme consequences could still be avoided if action was taken to substantially reduce greenhouse gases.

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