The Significance of Water & Climate Change
World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March every year, the theme for 2019 is `Leaving No One Behind’, no matter who you are or where you are, water is a human right. Today, billions of people in developing countries live without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggle to survive and thrive. While one of the UN’s key sustainable development goal’s is to have water for all people by 2030, Climate Change is likely to have a significant impact on achieving this goal.
It is considered that water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change. Increased frequency of droughts are exacerbating water availability in some places, having a flow on affect to food supply and people’s health. And with increased global incidences of flooding, there is greater threat to contamination of water sources and the necessary sanitation required.
Ensuring everyone has access to safe drinking water and sanitation services is critical for the survival of our human race, and highly dependent on the impact of climate change.
Higher temperatures and more extreme, less predictable, weather conditions are projected to affect availability, distribution and quality of water. Any significant changes in water availability will also impact health, food production and may result in political instability.
So what exactly is Climate Change?
The atmosphere is made up of oxygen, nitrogen and greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. Greenhouse gases trap the warmth from the sun, making life on Earth possible - without them the surface of the planet would freeze and be uninhabitable. However, too much greenhouse gases causes the Earth to overheat and our climate to change. This process is also called global warming.
Global warming, or climate change, results in more severe and unpredictable weather patterns such as floods, storms, cyclones and droughts. The impact of human actions is creating this unstable climate.
Over the past 150 years, due to industrial activity, agriculture and transportation, there has been a rapid increase in greenhouse gas released into our atmosphere. Population, production and consumption has grown exponentially and through these human activities the build up has increased to the highest level of greenhouse gases recorded, evidenced through scientific studies. Limiting the effects of climate change means reversing this trend and the trajectory we are currently on.
It has been predicted that without additional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth’s temperature will increase between 3.7°C and 4.8°C by 2100. However, if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 40% to 70% by 2050, the temperature increase is expected to stay below 2°C.
Why is it important for the temperature increase to stay below 2°C?
Right now, the world is about 1.2°C warmer than it was during pre-industrial times. To put the 2°C increase limit into perspective, only 5°C separates the current world from the last ice age. Earth's climate does change over time (the last ice age is evidence of that) but it's the rapid rate of change and amount of greenhouse gases filling up the atmosphere that has scientists and activists concerned.
A significant increase in temperature would make it difficult for the eco-system (plants, animals etc) to adapt. Everything from sea level rise to water scarcity to habitat loss would result, having a significant flow on affect.
Climate change has far reaching consequences; impacting the ecosystem that provides us food from the land and ocean, access to water, destroying coastal property and affecting human health. To limit global warming requires rapid change in all aspects of human behaviour in order to ensure a more sustainable society
Some scientists believe the 2°C target is slipping out of our reach and it’s more likely to be 3.2°C in 2100 with one of the consequences from global warming being an estimated 275 million people worldwide at risk of losing their homes due to rising sea levels.
Interested in seeing what the impact of 2°C vs 4°C in the Earth’s temperature has on the city you live in? Click here. To understand just how significant this is, if we experience an increase of 3°C in the Earth’s temperature by year 2100, Osaka in Japan (population 5.2m) is under water, Shanghai in China (population 17.5m) is also completely under water and Miami in the US (population 2.7m) would cease to exist.
We have made our home on this planet for centuries but in more recent times our unquenchable appetite for more, for bigger and for better has resulted in a carbon footprint that is monumental and enormously destructive. Since the start of the industrial revolution the human race has altered the course of nature and the full consequences of our combined actions on the Earth’s resources is still unknown.
If we don’t purposely change the way we behave and consume, we will eventually have no choice but to adapt to whatever environment we are left to live within. The question now, is what the scale of this change will be and whether we are willing to act.
Made with Respect is a proud member of 1% for the Planet, we champion sustainable brands from around the world who support a circular economy, who care about Craftsmanship, our People & our Planet.
Photos by Abigail Keenan, Matt Artz & Jasper Wilde, Unsplash