Heat wave as a Consequence of Climate Change
Climate change refers to the continued variation in weather patterns experienced over time. The change may not be easily detected unless past climatic records/data are compared with the present climatic records. Therefore, the effects being experienced in the present age are due to the past causative agents. Possible causes of climate change include
- The human activities, for example, deforestation, power generation through use of fossil fuels
- Changes in solar radiation
- Natural activities, for example, volcanic eruptions and plate tectonics
These causative agents affect the natural carbon cycle since there is an allowable amount of carbon level for livable conditions in the earth’s atmosphere. Interference with the carbon cycle, for example, the use of fossil fuels and deforestation will cause a rise in these levels. The utilization of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; carbon dioxide is an acidic compound and will also interfere with solar radiation. It would form a blanket covering in the atmosphere that would trap solar radiation in the atmosphere. This would interfere with the heat radiation and would have lethal effects on the organisms on the earth’s surface.
One deadly climatic change is heat wave; the prolonged exposure to extreme amounts of heat and may be combined with excessive humidity levels. Heat waves are a direct consequence of high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Summers are hotter in northern parts of America meaning that most North American states experience heat waves with high temperature and humidity levels. Heatwaves have a direct impact on the human body as extreme temperature levels cause cramps, boils, fainting and even death in severe cases. Recent researchers have depicted heatwave more lethal than natural disasters like lightning or floods. Death cases (resulting from acute dehydration) reported in Illinois in July 1995 reached a record of 700 and have since increased with the increasing greenhouse gases level (Smith, 2003). Heatwaves can also perpetrate blackouts and even power outages.
Coping with the heatwave, especially in the summer season, remains a challenge, but ways have been devised to reduce the effects. One of the ways of surviving heatwave is to stay hydrated during that season. Drink plenty of water and eat salty snacks from time to time to help replace the amounts of salt the body loses through sweating. However, higher snack consumptions result in extreme salt levels that would cause dehydration and other health hazards. Buildings and public places have been installed with air conditioners that help regulate the temperature and humidity levels in the buildings/cars (DiMento, 2007). Unfortunately, installation of such units in open areas would have little or no effect. Thus, the surest coping measure is the body hydration.
Adapting to the effects of the heatwave improve the living conditions, but is still not a sustainable option since the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are still increasing. Even the use of air conditioners in our buildings still adds to the climate change since these AC units use chemicals like CFCs that are among the perpetrators of heatwaves (DiMento, 2007). An appropriate strategy would be to control the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 800ppm; this is possible by restoring the natural carbon cycle. Afforestation and use of green energy would help reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere that would maintain the levels of greenhouse gases at 800ppm.
Climate change is a potential threat to human survival and other organisms inclusive. The effects are real and for the avoidance of extinction of other organisms/plants and better living conditions, sustainable measures should be incorporated into our daily activities/processes.
DiMento, J. F. (2007). Climate change: What it means for us, our children, and our grandchildren. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Smith, J. B. (2003). Climate change, adaptive capacity and development. London: Imperial College Press.