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Droughts and floods – the daunting impacts of climate change

Droughts and floods – the daunting impacts of climate change

There are different schools of thought regarding climate change. One of them believes that such change is solely a natural process, and it has nothing to do with human influence. On the other hand, the second school of thought considers climate change as the direct consequence of anthropogenic activities. Nevertheless, the most rational approach towards this matter is considering the current climate change as a natural process of climatic variations intensified by the ‘environmental unfriendly activities’ of human beings. Although earth has naturally gone through various phases of climatic variation (like ice-age in the ancient geological time), still the current scenario is rapidly boosted by the anthropogenic influence. The main driving forces of the current climate change are the greenhouse gases released from a multitude of domestic, commercial and industrial processes.

Consequently, climate change has played a significant role in causing a plethora of deteriorating impacts. One of the adverse impacts of climate change is the increase in frequency of floods. As mentioned previously, alterations in atmospheric and climatic patterns are interrelated with each other. Hence, the variation in climatic patterns in any region becomes the reason of elevating the frequency of floods. Warm atmosphere has high level of water vapors which results in very heavy precipitation and flash floods. For instance, USA experienced 4 percent increase in water vapor concentration due to 1.8 ºF rise in temperature since 1901. This initiated heavy precipitation and storms in the North-eastern region of USA. Additionally, climate change and global warming have led the world towards melting of glaciers and rise in sea-level. This has also amplified the frequency of high-tide flooding. This frequent flooding results in negative influence on ecosystems and environment. For instance, the floodwater having contaminants causes pollution of water bodies and disturbs the habitats of species residing in water. The silt and sediment carried by the floodwater destroys the crops in the farmlands, and also deteriorates the quality of soil. Along with this, the freshwater also proves to be the booster of water-dependent parasitic and infectious beings. Plus, floods also cause the travel and spread of solid waste from one region to another. Additionally, floods various socioeconomic adversities. First of all, they have the potential to cause mass destruction of homes, road networks and infrastructure. Secondly, mass destruction leads towards the displacement and migration of the flood victims to other regions. These scenarios result in mammoth economic losses. For example, the floods of 2010 in Pakistan have results in economic loss if almost 16 billion US dollars. Along with this, the outbreak of several infectious diseases due to stagnant flood water affects the socioeconomic spheres by increasing the overall health expenditure.

Furthermore, climate change is also responsible for the increasing drought prevalence in many regions of the world. Although the term “drought” is well-known since ancient times and was usually associated with famine and water scarcity, yet it was not a global concept few decades ago.

According to National Geographic’s survey, climate change has begun to cause drought since 1900, and it is estimated that the increasing greenhouse gases from anthropogenic sources will aggravate the droughty conditions. In many regions of the world, the rise in warming has elevated the rate of evaporation, and declined the rate of precipitation in many areas along with the decrease in the moisture of soil. This scenario has resulted in the water scarcity in many regions around the globe. As a result, these drought conditions pose adverse impacts on the environment and ecosystems.

Firstly, drought causes desertification by converting a fertile land into barren. Secondly, it results in lowering the water level in surface water bodies and wetlands. Further, this water insufficiency diminishes the capacity of soils to grow crops and also leads towards the potential chances of soil erosion. Plus, such drought conditions cause death of already grown vegetation and already residing animals. Along with this, droughts also severely affect the socio-economic spheres in different ways.

First of all, the infertility of crop growth due to soil infertility during drought leads towards the economic losses in agriculture sector. For instance, Pakistan is an agrarian country, and more than 18% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) depends on the agriculture sector. Hence, water scarcity or water shortage can significantly affect its economy due to the decrease in the crop yield. Secondly, water scarcity can lead the mankind towards conflicts based on water, which can harm the overall harmony of society. Plus, the prevalence of such economic and social impacts also results in gloomy impacts on psychological health of the affected population. Additionally, the regions facing constant droughts face the issue of malnutrition as well.

To conclude, the global change in climate patterns has subsequently resulted in various weather disturbances; such as frequently occurring floods and long-standing prevailing droughts. Although such conditions cause horrid environmental and socio-economic consequences, yet climate change can be tackled through certain concrete strategies. By adopting mitigation and adaptation measures of climate change in all the nations (whether developed or developing), increasing international cooperation, adopting eco-friendly practices in our daily lives; such perils associated with climate change can be minimized.

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