Climate Change Change Basics and Potential Impacts - Human and Natural Systems

Vulnerability of natural and human systems

Element Description:
Vulnerability is a measure of the capacity of individuals, communities and societies to manage the impact of hazards without suffering a long-term, potentially irreversible loss of wellbeing and stability. Human and natural systems are vulnerable to a change in the climate. The change in climate affects factors that could potentially change essentials of life that need stability and consistency.

Key Issues and Stakeholders:
Potential hazards that human systems are vulnerable to with a change in climate are:
·Agricultural difficulties
·Property damage
·Annual high and low temperatures that humans may not be able to survive
·Health risks
·Natural resources depleted

Human systems are susceptible to all these potential disasters. With a change in climate humans could become victims of flash floods, unpredictable drought, property damage from severe natural disasters and health risks such as heat related sicknesses, stress, event related death, more vector-borne disease infections (malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever), and respiratory problems due to air quality virus removal service. With droughts and floods agriculture becomes difficult to sustain and human populations become strained for food supplies and possibly malnourished. While more developed countries such as the United States and China may be able to use their advanced technology to prepare for adaptation, the undeveloped countries may not be able to build up their resilience to changes. Also natural resources that provide for countries will eventually become depleted with the warming change of the climate. One example of this is Mount Everest’s runoff water supply that provides freshwater for countries. Economic stakeholders are at risk of a gain in profit or a loss of profit due to a change in climate. Poor economic countries may suffer while prosperous economic countries may not be affected.

Note: It is particularly difficult to predict the outcomes of climate change on human systems and exactly how vulnerable each system may be due to how unpredictable population growth and use of natural resources and energy can be. Also, the uncertainty about how a rise greenhouse gases will ultimately affect climate change also causes prediction difficulty.

Potential hazards that natural systems are vulnerable to with a change in climate are:
·Temperature rise
·Greenhouse Gases
·Ocean level increase
·Ice melt
·Infectious animal population rise
·Species sensitivity to change

Natural systems are susceptible to these changes as climate changes. One of the major changes seen is the rise in temperature. It is possible that the current surface temperature will rise another 2.0-11.5 degrees Fahrenheit from its current temperature today. With the continued rise many issues sprout, such as increased sea levels. Glacier ice may melt and add from 0.59-1.94 feet of new water to oceans as a resultant of temperature rise. With the melting of glaciers less light is reflected and more of the light and heat is absorbed into the waters around it. With this comes the upsetting of natural habitats that have specific needs. There are many ocean colonies and species that have adapted so specifically to a certain temperature and pH that even the smallest change could cause ruin. With temperature rise mosquitoes and deer ticks will be more suited to breed for longer periods of time and also having a longer disease transfer season.

·Improving climate forecasts
·Slowing biodiversity loss
·Making ways of life more resilient to change
·Driving less
·Alert people to the change