Although there are those who still dare to deny it, climate change is a reality that is already wreaking havoc around the world, through events such as the melting of the Arctic ice or the development of all kinds of extreme weather events.
Both are logical consequences of a change in the global climate. But climate change is not just reduced to that. The effects it generates are more numerous, and some of them are really surprising.
Many have already begun to manifest, others will not take long to do so and, probably, some that we could not believe right now will end up happening in the future.
These are five of those that, unfortunately, are already beginning to appear.
Fish with more mercury
According to a study recently published in Nature by scientists at Harvard University, rising sea temperatures and overfishing are beginning to increase mercury levels in some fish for human consumption, such as cod.
They have reached this conclusion thanks to a model elaborated from water parameters extracted during the last 30 years in the Gulf of Maine.
The data also included information on the contents of the stomachs of Atlantic cod and spiny dogfish that they caught during that period. Thus, they discovered that in the first the levels of methylmercury increased between 6% and 20% from the year 2000, while in the second they did so between 33% and 61%.
But what exactly is methylmercury and what is the cause of this very different increase in both fish?
Methylmercury is a compound derived from mercury, which can be stored in the meat of marine predators and, after consumption in high doses, cause neurotoxic damage. Both cod and dogfish used to eat herring.
Another study was also published in Nature in which another curious consequence of climate change was revealed: the increase in what is known as turbulence in clear air.
This work is the first to detect a statistically significant increase in vertical wind shear at jet stream altitudes in the North Atlantic. This means that variations in wind direction and speed increase as you go higher.
The main driver of air currents in this area is the temperature difference between the equator and the north pole, so the greater the difference, the stronger the jet streams will blow from west to east.
The study, by meteorologists at the University of Reading, notes that at higher latitudes, including the lower stratosphere above the pole, temperatures have dropped as a result of rapid Arctic climate change.
All this, according to the conclusions of the study, is affecting the shear and, therefore, the turbulence; that, in fact, they were responsible last March for the emergency landing of an Istanbul-New York flight in which the sudden impact of the plane caused injuries to several passengers and crew.
Climate change has caused the extinction of numerous species in recent years, such as the Hawaiian snail or the Melomys rubicola rat. But they are far from the only ones succumbing to what is happening with the temperatures and the rains.
The extinction of certain animals also entails the disappearance of their parasites; which, in fact, are considered particularly sensitive to this situation. So much so that in 2017 a team of American scientists conducted research that concluded that a third of them might not be among us in 2070.
The most affected were fleas and ticks, while others, such as lice, were more likely to adapt to the new scenarios. But why do we see all this as a problem? After all, parasites are often the cause of numerous diseases.
This is true, as is the fact that they are essential for the proper functioning of ecosystems for various reasons. For example, they help regulate the immune system of animals. In addition, they alter their behaviour, facilitating the transition of biomass between different levels of the same ecosystem. For all these reasons, as the authors of this work conclude, its loss would also mean the end of other non-parasitic species.
Resurrection of diseases
If we have to point to a clear promoter of the resurrection of almost disappeared diseases, that is undoubtedly the anti-vaccine movement. However, unfortunately, he is not the only one. Climate change has also done its bit in recent years so that certain infectious agents that had lain dormant under the ice come back “to life”, in the form of microscopic zombies, thirsty for hosts to infect.
Under the permafrost – the layer of land and ice that is permanently frozen – many secrets are hidden, which would only come to light in the event that an inappropriate increase in temperatures caused it to melt. And this is something that has already started to happen; due, of course, to climate change.
The climate apartheid
Another of the most terrible consequences of climate change is how it can influence the increase in economic differences between the richest and most disadvantaged areas of the planet.
This is something that was exposed last June in an alarming UN report, which calculated that by 2030 there could be 120 million more people in poverty than today. In addition, it is recalled that climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health and poverty reduction. But why?
Basically, the reason is that people living in poverty tend to live in the areas most affected by climate change, in less resistant housing, so that their loss is even greater when a catastrophe occurs and, to top it off, they do not They have enough resources to solve it. On the other hand, the report recalls that these citizens obtain less support from the social security networks or the financial system to prevent or recover after this type of impact.
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