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Study: Greenhouse gases to trigger chain reaction threat to humanity

New evidence published in the journal Nature Climate Change reveals that the threats of climate change on society are greater than what previous studies have suggested. This latest study is the most comprehensive evaluation of how humanity is being impacted by the multiple climate change factors being bolstered by increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The team, which hails from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, peer reviewed scientific papers that enlightened them to 467 ways human health, food, water, economy, infrastructure, and security have already been impacted by climate changes like drought, floods, wildfires, heat waves, storms, sea level rise, and changes in ocean chemistry.

Before this study, climate change hazards were studied individually. However, doing this has masked the impacts of such hazards on other climate change factors and vice versa. Therefore, the true impact of climate change on humanity has been underscored until now.

Lead author Camilo Mora, associate professor of geography in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said, “Greenhouse gas emissions pose a broad threat to humanity by simultaneously intensifying many hazards that have proven harmful in the past. Further, we predict that by 2100 the number of hazards occurring concurrently will increase, making it even more difficult for people to cope.”

The study outlines in great detail how society has already been impacted by climate change hazards including, but not limited to, death and disease, food supply from animals, quantity and quality of fresh water, infrastructure, and economy. These results can be viewed via interactive map here. One can also explore what these hazards will look like in future years to come if nothing is done to ease their impacts.

“This new research provides rigorous, quantitative support for a point we have emphasized for some time: the costs of inaction greatly outweigh the costs of taking action on climate change,” said Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, who was not involved in the study. “It also provides robust support for another key point: we can still reduce future damage and suffering if we act quickly and dramatically to reduce carbon emissions.”

Mora continued, “The collision of cumulative climate hazards is not something on the horizon, it is already here.” And if we continue to stand still and not act on these hazards, humanity will be in more trouble than we already are within the next few decades.

By Olivia Harvey, Staff Writer

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