One of the questions raised by the media recently has been about the possible effects of climate change on economic growth. The effects are actually much more far-reaching than one might at first think. Many people worry that global warming will lead to rising levels of poverty and that the effects of climate change will force coastal regions to be forced to retreat, drying up many traditional farms and industries. These fears are often based on a misunderstanding of the reality of climate change. It is important to understand the real issues before worrying about the possible effects of climate change on economic growth.
First, it is important to recognize that there is no “warming” trend in the atmosphere. There are certainly periods where the Earth has warmed from time to time, but global warming is actually a cycle that takes place over hundreds or even thousands of years. Global warming and climate change are thought to be caused by the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane as well as the release of other pollutants such as nitrous oxides. Although these emissions cannot be avoided, the concentration of them in the atmosphere can be reduced. This reduction in concentration can be achieved through using efficient energy sources such as solar power, biofuels, geothermal power and more.
Second, while it is true that the effects of climate change may cause some parts of the world to suffer from drought and flooding, this is simply because of the shifting of the world's ecosystems. Likewise, regions that have been recently hit by severe hurricane activity may also experience flooding for a short period of time. Similarly, areas currently experiencing ice melt and high melting temperatures will likely experience increases in precipitation.
Global warming and climate change have negative consequences, but they do not outweigh the benefits that human society would experience if those changes are avoided. As the World Bank has shown, income levels in the developing world would increase by as much as twenty percent if countries take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This could mean that poverty rates decrease, public health improves and overall quality of life improves. These improvements would reverse the negative effects of climate change and increase the standard of living for millions of people around the world.
While the adverse effects of climate change are already being felt by many countries and sectors of the global economy, the adverse effects of global warming and climate change may be felt much farther out into the future. Recent research suggests that Arctic regions are already starting to warm faster than normal. In arctic regions, global warming will likely cause methane to increase in the atmosphere, which is a potential source of climate change. Recent research has also suggested that areas of rainforest vegetation may become extinct as a result of global warming. All of these areas will need to be considered when planning for the future.
How will people affected by climate change to cope with the changing climate? Will they be able to adapt to the changes in the environment and the new weather patterns? Will the costs of adaptation and mitigation campaigns be worth the benefits of reducing global warming? As more information is discovered about the possible consequences of climate change, both the cost and the benefits of action need to be evaluated.
What can we do to reduce global warming? One suggestion is . . . . . . to reduce our use of fossil fuels such as oil, which are a major contributor to climate change, as well as using more efficient energy such as solar power. The use of wind power is also another way to reduce global warming. Research needs to be done to determine what the best methods of reducing greenhouse gases are.
Although the adverse effects of climate change on economic growth are mostly felt in developed countries, some developing countries, such as India, are already feeling the negative effects of global warming. In the past, most developing countries relied on wood for their fuel supply. Today, burning wood for fuel is no longer a viable option due to the rising costs and the harmful effects of global warming.