Climate emergency on Earth and the effects of climate change

© UNHCR- Andrew McConnell

Years ago planet Earth launched a climate emergency. Natural disasters have been occurring over the years, and they have been increasing. Not only that, but the effects of climate change They are increasingly catastrophic and lead to a problem that affects everyone.

That's why it is necessary to take charge of the matter since, until now, human beings, animals and plants do not have another planet to inhabit and if this one begins to fail, we will not have a place to live.

Climate emergency around the world

© UNHCR- Andrew McConnell

Over the years, a series of natural disasters have occurred, such as storms, hurricanes, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, fires... they occur in a moment and destroy everything, causing many people to lose what they have and be forced to move to other territories.

In 2022, disasters caused a record 32,6 million displacements, of which 98% were caused by climate-related hazards according to the International Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).

However, far from considering that this only affects the poorest regions of the planet, it is also a reality for high-income countries. For example, in the United States there were 1,7 million displaced people in 2020 or in Australia, 51.000 displaced people. And these data continue to rise and affect more and more people.

Today, There are five countries considered the most vulnerable (and with a larger refugee population) regarding the climate crisis. These are: Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan and Venezuela.

But one's own The UN warns that, right now, there is no country in the world that has not suffered the effects of climate change. It is a reality that can be felt in the air: with extreme weather events, rising sea levels or warming are issues of great concern. Furthermore, the repercussions of this crisis, as devastating as they are silent: hunger, displacement...

In the words of Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN: «The impacts of this crisis are greatest where fragility and conflict have weakened survival mechanisms; where people depend on natural capital for their livelihood; and where women, who bear the greatest burden of the climate emergency, do not enjoy the same rights.

The effects of climate change that are already occurring

© UNHCR- Tiksa Negeri

Although climate change is a disastrous situation that has been occurring over the long term, we have reached a point where we either start to act, or The cost of doing nothing and letting the number of people in need of humanitarian aid due to climate impacts continue to grow will be impossible to bear. 

Much of the blame for what is happening lies with human activities, such as deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions or the burning of fossil fuels. And the effects have been occurring and increasing for years.

Among the most important effects of climate change are:

  • Global temperature rise: It is a reality that the planet is warming. Year after year the Earth's temperature rises. According to NASA data, in 1880 the average temperature was -0,16°C. In the period between 2016 and 2020, this temperature already exceeds 1ºC. In 2023 it will be around 1,40ºC. Which indicates that the rise is increasing and is occurring faster and faster.
    The fact that the Earth has increasingly higher temperatures on the land and ocean surface means that all life has to adapt or die.
  • Change in weather patterns: Heavy rains, hurricanes, droughts, floods, fires... are now a reality that cover the news with greater frequency. and it is expected that more and more events occur, affecting human, animal and plant life.
  • Deglaciation and sea level rise: The ice at the poles is melting and it is something we have been hearing for years. And global warming is to blame for this. As a consequence, sea level is rising, forcing many to have to leave their homes to move to other territories in search of a new life, sometimes without resources to survive.
  • Impact on ecosystems: Animal and plant species themselves have been suffering for years due to climate change; Their loss or change of habitat, the obligation to migrate or become extinct are situations that are leaving the planet without species.
  • Threat to food security: Agricultural production is one of the most affected by climatic variations and the effects that occur. But this directly influences food production, which implies food insecurity, increasingly present in poorer countries. In these places food is scarce and hunger is part of their daily lives.
  • Lack of water: Along with food, water is another essential good for life, not only human, but also animal and plant. And changes in precipitation patterns, as well as increased evaporation due to global warming, are contributing to a shortage that will affect more and more regions of the world.
  • Today, The countries that are already suffering from this climate effect are Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Qatar. And in the near term future there is no doubt that the list will increase significantly.
  • Population displacement: Due to all of the above, people, entire communities, may be forced to abandon their land, their home, their life, to find a place where climatic events can allow them to live.
  • That is why It is important to take measures to mitigate these effects to achieve a more sustainable and resilient future. And in this regard, UNHCR is in charge of protecting refugees and displaced people, with climate change and its consequences being one of the main causes of human displacement in the world.

EACNUR, humanitarian aid to alleviate the climate effect

©UNHCR – Isadora Zoni

Climate change causes millions of displacements and that is why the UN Refugee Agency is present to offer these people shelter and help. Among its current challenges in terms of the environment There is the reduction of the impact on the environment, aid to climate displaced people and victims of natural disasters when the affected governments request it.

In recent years, Spanish UNHCR Committee, in charge of raising awareness and raising funds for UNHCR humanitarian projects has experienced great growth thanks to the support and solidarity of thousands of Spaniards. But all help is welcome, whether as a partner, with donations or by collaborating in some way with the Spanish UNHCR Committee and supporting its humanitarian work.

Planet Earth belongs to everyone. And if we want to minimize the effects of climate change, everyone must do their bit. Are you willing to contribute yours?

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