Information on global emissions of pollutants and their impact on the environment

01 Jan 1970, 03:00
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Rainfall

Global warming is causing water evaporation acceleration, which, in turn, speeds up water circulation in nature. In 1980-2010, a record amount of precipitation was observed, which was 12% higher than the preindustrial precipitation level. In Southeast Asia, the amount of precipitation has increased by 56%, in Europe by 31%, and in the central regions by 24%.

Carbon dioxide and nitrogen are natural components of the atmosphere, but the combustion of such products as coal and oil creates an excessive concentration of these substances, which significantly increases the acidity of rainfall. The environmental consequences of acid rain can be most vividly seen in aqueous environments, such as rivers, swamps and lakes. It has a detrimental effect on fish and other living organisms. This is caused by an increased aluminium content, which rain water washes out of clay-rich soils and is then runs into the waterways. Some types of organisms can survive in moderately acidic water, but other types, which serve as food for the top food chains, cannot withstand such a concentration. This leads to disruption of the food chain, which can be fatal to the ecosystem.

Acid rain also has an impact on the growth of plants. By washing nutrients essential to plants from the soil, acid rain creates an environment that cannot sustain plant life. In the mountains, the leaves of trees are subjected to acidic fallout from fog and clouds, depriving them of nutrients and making the leaves incapable of absorbing sunlight, which increases their vulnerability to low temperatures.

As a result, the decrease in plant populations means that a certain amount of carbon dioxide will not be absorbed by plants, which will lead to an even higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Farming will undergo great difficulties. Acid rain affects both the quality and yield of agricultural production. In addition to causing cosmetic damage, acid rain reduces the nutritional value and mineral wealth of fruit.

Acid rain also has a detrimental effect on human health: as such it is harmless, but if it gets into the lungs, the small particles created by the rain and ozone can cause or aggravate respiratory diseases, such as asthma and bronchitis.

 

Air temperature

Climate change and a rise in temperature will have a different impact on different regions. 

For Africa, which is undergoing unprecedented population growth, a rise in temperature will mean larger drought-inflicted areas, leading to potential migration due to water shortage and farming failure.

For example, the Province of Sind (Pakistan, the Middle East) has experienced two contradictory consequences of climate change. Extreme drought and flooding make it impossible to grow crops and feed animals, leading to multimillion economic losses for the region.

Such Middle Eastern countries as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar are in danger of becoming unsuitable for life. According to the estimates of climatologists, by 2070 the atmospheric temperature in the Gulf States could reach 70-80 degrees Celsius. Of course, in large cities the problem can be solved by means of a developed air conditioning system, but even then people will only be able to go outside at night.

A radical change in temperature could mean that by 2080 600 million people will face starvation. Starvation and water shortage will provoke the mass migration of insects to northern latitudes, where tropical epidemics, such as fever and malaria, could erupt.

It stands to reason that climate changes will also aggravate political differences and conflicts over access to water and food resources.

In Northern Europe, the higher temperature are causing warmer winters, which means a higher level of rainfall, more clouds, more strong gales and considerable changes in the environment. Farm land will become too damp for growing crops, and the sea level will continue to rise.

In September 2017, the southeast coast of the U.S. was hit by two major hurricanes, one of which was called Irma. Climate changes have led to hurricanes becoming more extreme because of the higher level of precipitation and storm tides. There can be no doubt that the destructive scope of hurricanes will continue to increase in the future.

If the temperature rises 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, water supply in regions of the Mediterranean will decrease by 50%. For example, reservoirs in France are drying out, forcing the authorities to introduce water restrictions. The Earth’s coastal areas will be destroyed. Buildings and other infrastructure will be washed away by the sea, which will lead to an increase in insurance premiums. The risks associated with flooding are currently the main natural phenomenon forcing people to leave their homes every year. Every year floods leave an average of 22.5 million people homeless. If measures are not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this figure may double. 

China and Japan, where about 140 and 30 million people live, respectively, could be left without sufficient housing. Bangladesh is also at risk because of the rise in sea level. It is expected that by 2050 tens of millions of people will be homeless.

The climate in Russia is also undergoing perceptible change, abnormally high and low temperatures are being recorded with increasing frequency. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Russian Federation, between 1990 and 2010 the number of natural disasters, such as flooding, landslides, and hurricanes, has increased four-fold and continues to increase by 6-7% every year.

The thawing of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica is natural process, however global warming is considerably speeding up this activity, thus leading to the sudden loss of a large amount of ice. This could have an impact on the rise in sea level and the circulation of sea water. 

Furthermore, Antarctic ice contains a large amount of methane, a resilient greenhouse gas. The thawing of ice will lead to an all-out emission of methane, which will not only increase global warming manifold, but also lead to environmental disaster. According to some scientists, humanity is currently seeing the mass extinction of animals, the sixth occurrence of this kind in the Earth’s history. This time it is related to human activity. According to the forecasts, the global ecosystem may lose 30-40% of its animal and plant species, since their habitat will change faster than their ability to adapt to the new living conditions.

According to the estimates of researchers, the thawing of glaciers will cause the land to sink into the ocean at a rate of three-four millimetres a year. Scientists believe that this rate will accelerate and, in the next decades, the glacial cover will begin receding at a faster rate. Depending on various scenarios (which take into consideration different volumes of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions), the sea level will rise by 0.3-2 meters by 2100.

Whereas in the past, the land was covered by a five-centimetre layer of water every 100 years, now, according to the results of a research study published in Scientific Reports magazine, this will happen every 25 years. Major flooding is more likely in the tropics. There the frequency of natural disasters will double by 2030 (if the sea level rises by 5-10 centimetres). So island dwellers are the most vulnerable members of the Earth’s population.

Climate change causes hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide every year.

Humanity is now faced with the urgent prospect of making decisions that will effectively soften the consequences of ongoing climate change.

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