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Climate change is here, and it's here to stay. We can no longer prevent it, but we can still reduce its impact — "we" meaning global policy makers and enforcers. The rest of us can prepare for the challenge ahead. How?

Humanity has known about climate change for decades at this point.

Columbia University geochemist Wallace Broecker coined the term "global warming" in 1975 to describe the effect that greenhouse gas emissions were found to have on temperature averages across the world. "Climate change", which more broadly described the effect human activity has on the Earth's climate, made its appearance in 1979 in a study conducted by the National Academy of Science. 

Almost all of us have heard stories about the dystopian, apocalyptic, ways in which climate change might affect the future — yet somehow, those consequences have always seemed to be far away, and something to worry about later. 

Climate change is here. The future is now. 

We couldn't possibly cover all the ways in which human lives are being impacted by climate change, but we can offer some examples. How many of these have you noticed in your own life, in your own locality?

  • The Earth's temperatures are now 1.1°C warmer, on average, than in 1800. The warmest years on record were 2015 to 2019, and the last decade has been the hottest recorded to date. We're on track to beat that record. 
  • This has caused extreme weather events to become more common. Floods, wildfires, droughts followed by prolonged rain, and heatwaves are all becoming more common. Droughts have become 29 percent more common since the year 2000, for example.
  • Changes in precipitation patterns cause water shortages and crop failure.

Climate change also has a profound impact on human health:

  • Heat-related deaths, such as those caused by heatstroke, are on the rise.
  • Cold-related deaths are also on the rise.
  • The tick-borne infection Lyme disease is on the rise as a direct result of increased temperatures, which ticks thrive in.
  • The mosquito-borne West Nile Virus is on the rise.
  • Ragweed pollen season is longer, prolonging allergy symptoms for sufferers. 
  • Extreme weather events like hurricanes directly cause deaths.
  • Air quality is reduced, leading to respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

The United Nations warn that "every year, environmental factors take the lives of around 13 million people". In contrast, 6.46 million people died from COVID since the start of the pandemic (as of August 23, 2022). 

What Will the Future Bring?

Climate change is the single biggest threat facing humanity today — and this huge threat itself sprouts numerous smaller threats. 

If we continue on the current path, temperatures are set to increase by 4.4 °C at the end of the century. This increase is much higher than the frightening 2 °C that scientists previously warned against.

Preventing catastrophic impacts of climate change is no longer possible. NASA warns that climate change is expected to:

  • Cause sea levels to rise by one to eight feet by the end of the century.
  • Cause temperatures to keep rising, leading to more heatwaves.
  • Cause more, and more intense, hurricanes.
  • Cause more droughts. 
  • Cause more cold waves, though less often than heatwaves.
  • Cause a longer and more intense wildfire season.
  • Cause more floods and less predictable rainfall.
  • Lead to an ice-free Arctic. 

All of these things will happen. Depending on what humanity does next, however, the extent to which we'll be affected by these terrifying changes can still be impacted.

To sum it up, we're heading for a world where water and food shortages, wildfires, poor air quality, and increased disease levels are the norm. We're heading for a dystopia. 

What Now?

Humans caused this mess. I'm sure that my editor didn't mean what the title of this article, The Human Race: A Global Challenge For Climate Change Action, implies, but it's true nonetheless. The human race is the global challenge. An Earth with people would ultimately thrive.

People who decide not to have children because they don't want to bring them into this kind of world, or who want to do the planet a favor by contributing to human extinction, have a point. 

What Can You Do to Prepare for the Impact of Climate Change?

Switching to reusable bags or paper straws won't cut it at this stage, but yet most of us have an innate drive to survive. What practical steps can you take to make life more livable for you and your family?

The UK City of Bradford's City Council already warns citizens to prepare for climate change. This is the kind of entity that would typically have informed people about garbage pickup dates and taxes, so it's yet another piece of evidence that the impact of climate change is already with us. 

Think about your own future, too. You'll have to make your own individual plan, but some things to consider include:

  • If you are planning to stay in your home, keep a close eye on the climate events most likely to affect your area and prepare your home for them. This can include flood-proofing and installing blinds.
  • If you are hoping to move in the near(ish) future, consider the projected climate impacts each area you might buy a property in. Actively take climate change into account as you plan a move.
  • Consider installing solar panels (or generators, if you must) in case of power outages, which are likely to increase in future.
  • Consider installing a water catchment system to make use of rainfall, as water shortages are will increase.
  • Install an air purifying system in your home to increase indoor air quality. Check outdoor air quality. Use an N95 mask if it is poor.
  • Stockpile food. Consider starting a vegetable garden if you can, but also keep in mind that crops are more likely to fail due to climate change so select plants that are more resistant to the challenges your area is most likely to face.
  • Take steps to stay as physically healthy as you can, including tackling long-term projects like getting dental implants or going in for the hip replacement you need.

Doomsday prepping was once a fringe hobby. Soon, it will become absolutely necessary. Read up on survival and prepping now. Take a first aid course. 

Nobody reading this will be a policy maker who can make a real difference — something that's still possible. You can, however, consider climate as you vote, buy, engage in political activity, decide where to work, decide where to live, and decide how to organize transport. You can prepare for the future rather than pretending it's not going to be different.

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