The climate emergency is an issue that over the years has increasingly attracted global attention, and for good reason. It is not a myth, but a reality that is emerging incontrovertibly across a wide range of scientific evidence.

Alex Emeka
October 13, 2023
min read

The climate emergency is an issue that over the years has increasingly attracted global attention, and for good reason. It is not a myth, but a reality that is emerging incontrovertibly across a wide range of scientific evidence. Climate change, caused primarily by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity, threatens our planet and our societies in many ways.

The belief that climate change is a figment of human imagination persists largely because of economic interests, politicisation of the subject, online misinformation, lack of scientific understanding, fear of change, cognitive biases and anti-regulation ideology. Despite these beliefs, the global scientific consensus is that climate change is real, caused largely by human activity, and poses a serious threat to the planet and society.

In this article, AdvoKC will explore 20 compelling reasons why the climate emergency is firmly rooted in our reality. From rising temperatures and melting glaciers to ocean acidification and extreme weather events, these factors highlight the urgent need to act quickly to mitigate the effects of climate change.

1- Rising temperatures:

Average global temperatures are rising steadily, with recent years regularly breaking heat records.

The global rise in temperature is one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time, and its impact on the advancing desert in Africa is particularly alarming. Rising temperatures are leading to increased drought and increasingly arid climatic conditions in large parts of the African continent. This trend is contributing significantly to the expansion of deserts, particularly the Sahara, which is advancing inexorably southwards, swallowing up fertile land and threatening the food security of millions of people. Increasing desertification in Africa is having devastating consequences for biodiversity, local ecosystems and the lives of communities that depend on agriculture and livestock farming. It is imperative that we take immediate action to mitigate climate change and combat desertification in order to preserve life on this continent and throughout the world.

This daily increase in heat is also responsible for another equally serious problem, the melting of glaciers in the polar regions.

2- Melting glaciers:

Glaciers around the world are shrinking rapidly as a result of global warming.

The melting of glaciers is an alarming phenomenon fuelled mainly by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. Glaciers, which act as freshwater reservoirs, are melting at an unprecedented rate, causing sea levels to rise and disrupting mountain ecosystems. This rapid melting has serious consequences, including increased risks of coastal flooding for coastal communities and the disappearance of freshwater sources for millions of people. In addition, melting glaciers are impacting biodiversity by altering alpine habitats, pushing some species to higher altitudes, while others are threatened with extinction. Glacier-fed rivers are also essential for many forms of life, and their reduction compromises the stability of downstream ecosystems. The melting of glaciers is therefore a clear warning of the urgent need to take action to mitigate climate change and protect our environment and the biodiversity that depends on it. And of course, as polar glaciers melt, sea levels rise. Another devastating cause of climate change.

3- Rising sea levels:

Rising sea levels threaten coastal areas, low-lying islands and deltas.

The rise in sea levels is an alarming phenomenon that is mainly the result of climate change, caused by the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This rise in sea level is due to the melting of ice caps and glaciers, as well as the thermal expansion of seawater as it warms up. The consequences are devastating: coastal areas are increasingly exposed to flooding and erosion, threatening homes and infrastructure, as well as coastal ecosystems. Marine ecosystems are also affected, as water salinity changes and underwater habitats are transformed. Rising sea levels are also disrupting biodiversity, displacing certain species to new habitats, altering reproduction cycles and threatening the survival of many marine species. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking measures to mitigate climate change are crucial to limiting sea-level rise and its devastating consequences for our environment and biodiversity. All the more so the increasing acidity of the oceans is one of the far-reaching effects of the rise in sea levels.

4- Ocean acidification:

Increased carbon dioxide emissions are causing ocean acidification, which threatens marine ecosystems.

Ocean acidification is a major problem that stems from the same underlying factor as climate change: the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels. When CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, it reacts with water to form carbonic acid, which lowers the pH of the water and makes it more acidic. This acidification of the oceans has serious consequences for marine life.

Firstly, it affects marine organisms with calcium carbonate shells or exoskeletons, such as corals, molluscs and certain types of plankton. Increased acidity makes it more difficult for these structures to form and remain stable, threatening these species and the ecosystems that depend on them. Acidification also disrupts the behaviour of fish, particularly their ability to orientate themselves, detect predators and communicate, which can have an impact on marine food chains.

Ocean acidification is a serious threat to marine biodiversity and human food security, as many communities depend on seafood as an important source of protein. To mitigate this problem, it is essential to reduce CO2 emissions at source and protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.

5- Extreme weather events:

Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, storms, floods and wildfires, can cause severe damage to the environment.

Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, storms, floods and forest fires, have become more frequent and intense as a result of human-induced climate change. Massive emissions of greenhouse gases have led to global warming, which modifies weather patterns and favours the occurrence of these extreme weather events. Higher ocean temperatures are fuelling the power of hurricanes and storms, while more intense rainfall is causing devastating floods. At the same time, prolonged droughts and heat waves are contributing to an increase in forest fires. These phenomena have a devastating impact on communities, agriculture, biodiversity and infrastructure, underlining the urgency of adopting measures to mitigate climate change, strengthen the resilience of societies and protect our environment.

6- Extinction of species:

Climate change is one of the main causes of the extinction of animal and plant species.

Climate change is one of the main causes of the extinction of animal and plant species because of its devastating impact on habitats, life cycles and ecological relationships. Here's how it is contributing to this biodiversity crisis:

Habitat loss: Global warming is causing drastic changes to natural habitats. For example, melting glaciers and rising sea levels are leading to the loss of coastal areas, while rising temperatures can make mountainous areas unsuitable for many species. Animals and plants adapted to these habitats find themselves without a place to live.

Displacement of species: Animal and plant species often depend on specific climatic conditions for their survival. With climate change, many species are forced to move to regions where they can find compatible environmental conditions. However, this migration can be difficult, particularly for species with low mobility or faced with human obstacles such as urbanised areas.

Ecological desynchronisation: Temperature changes also affect the timing of crucial biological events, such as plant flowering, bird migration and animal reproduction. If these events are no longer synchronised with feeding cycles or predators, this can have dramatic consequences for the survival of species.

Scarcity of food resources: Climate change affects the availability of food resources for many species. For example, the acidification of the oceans is disrupting marine ecosystems, making it difficult for organisms that depend on them, such as corals and fish, to survive.

Diseases and parasites: Climate change also encourages the spread of diseases and parasites. Warmer conditions can allow these pathogens to survive in areas where they were previously non-existent, affecting the health and survival of wildlife.

Overall, climate change is profoundly disrupting ecosystems and the complex interrelationships between species, jeopardising their ability to survive. This is leading to an alarming decline in biodiversity, with potentially serious consequences for the stability of ecosystems and the survival of many species, including humans, who depend on these ecosystems for their own well-being.

7- Population displacement:

People are forced to move because of rising sea levels, drought and other consequences of climate change.

Climate change is having a significant impact on the displacement of people around the world. Manifestations of climate change, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, desertification and dwindling water resources, are creating increasingly inhospitable environmental conditions. These changes are forcing many communities, particularly those living in vulnerable areas, to leave their homelands to seek safe refuge elsewhere. Displacement caused by climate change is often referred to as "climate migration" or "climate refugees". These massive population movements have considerable social, economic and political implications, with the potential to create tensions and conflicts, as well as straining the resources and infrastructures of the host regions. To meet this growing challenge, it is crucial to implement effective adaptation policies and strategies while working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change.

8- Loss of biodiversity: Climate change is disrupting natural ecosystems and reducing biodiversity.

Climate change is exerting severe pressure on the world's biodiversity, contributing to its rapid destruction. Changes in temperature, rainfall patterns and habitats induced by global warming are disrupting natural ecosystems, forcing many plant and animal species to adapt or migrate. However, many species, particularly those already endangered or with reduced populations, are unable to adapt quickly enough to survive, leading to their decline and, in many cases, extinction.

Marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems are all suffering devastating impacts, from coral reefs to tropical forests to the poles. The loss of biodiversity has cascading repercussions on essential ecosystem services such as crop pollination, climate regulation and water purification, jeopardising the overall health of our planet and its inhabitants. Preserving biodiversity and combating climate change are interdependent imperatives for maintaining ecological balance and ensuring a sustainable future for our planet.

9- Relocation of farming areas:

Farming areas have to be adapted due to climate change, which can lead to food disruptions.

Climate change is having a significant influence on the geography of agricultural areas worldwide. Changes in temperature, rainfall patterns and weather conditions are altering the viability of existing farmland, often forcing farmers to adapt their practices or migrate to new areas. Areas that were once suitable for growing certain crops may become less fertile due to droughts, irregular rainfall or temperature increases, while other areas may become more suitable for farming due to milder climatic conditions. This dynamic shift in agricultural areas has major implications for global food security, rural economies and human migration. It can also lead to conflicts over access to agricultural resources. To meet these challenges, it is essential to put in place agricultural adaptation strategies, promote sustainable agricultural practices and take measures to mitigate climate change, in order to ensure the continued availability of food for a growing world population.

10- Soil degradation: Agricultural soils are depleted of nutrients and moisture due to the changing climate.

Climate change is exerting increasing pressure on agricultural land, leading to its gradual degradation. Changes in temperature, rainfall patterns and weather patterns associated with climate change are having a devastating impact on soil productivity. More frequent droughts and prolonged heat waves are reducing water availability, leading to crop losses, desertification and the deterioration of arable land. At the same time, more frequent flooding can lead to soil erosion, loss of nutrients and pollution of farmland.

Climate change also Favours the spread of pests and diseases that affect crops, which can reduce agricultural productivity. As a result, farmers face increasing challenges in maintaining stable and predictable yields, with serious implications for global food security. To combat the degradation of agricultural land caused by climate change, it is essential to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, implement adaptation strategies to protect soils and work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change.

11- Threat to food security: Climate variations can affect food production and the availability of basic food resources.

Climate change is having a profound influence on global food security by disrupting agricultural and food systems at several levels. Extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and storms, are becoming increasingly frequent and devastating, leading to crop losses, the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and soil deterioration. Variations in temperature and rainfall affect crop growth and livestock health, reducing agricultural productivity. In addition, climate change favours the spread of pests and diseases that can decimate crops. Coastal areas are also threatened by rising sea levels, making farmland saline and unfit for cultivation.

As a result, many parts of the world are facing increasing food shortages, rising food prices and disruption to the livelihoods of farming communities. Food security is intimately linked to social and political stability, and the consequences of climate change can lead to mass migration and conflicts over access to food resources. To mitigate these impacts, it is imperative to implement sustainable agricultural practices, strengthen the resilience of food systems and take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.

12- Water scarcity:

Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity in many parts of the world.

Climate change is one of the main causes of the water crisis and the lack of water in many parts of the world. Here's how it's happening:

Changing rainfall patterns: Climate change is altering rainfall patterns. In some regions, this means more intense and less frequent rainfall, which can lead to devastating floods followed by prolonged periods of drought. In other regions, there may be a general decrease in precipitation, reducing water supplies.

Melting glaciers: Glaciers are essential sources of fresh water for many parts of the world. With global warming, the melting of glaciers is accelerating, which can initially lead to an increase in river flows. However, once these glaciers have melted, river flows will fall considerably, leaving many regions dependent on these water resources vulnerable to shortages.

Increased evaporation: Higher temperatures associated with climate change are causing water to evaporate more rapidly from reservoirs, lakes and rivers, reducing the availability of freshwater for human, agricultural and industrial needs.

Increased demand: At the same time, climate change may increase demand for water due to increased agricultural irrigation needs to cope with warmer temperatures and longer periods of drought, as well as urban expansion and population growth.

The combination of these factors is creating a water crisis in many regions, with increasingly frequent and severe water shortages. This has serious repercussions for food security, public health, industry and the ecosystem. To address this crisis, it is crucial to adopt more sustainable water management practices, invest in water storage and distribution infrastructure, and take steps to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

13- Water stress: Climate change is leading to increased water stress, which can cause water-related conflicts.

Water scarcity caused by climate change can exacerbate tensions and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in the context of negotiations over shared water resources. A striking example of this is the conflict between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile. Ethiopia, which is initiating construction of the dam, aims to harness hydroelectric power for its economic development. However, Egypt and Sudan, which are heavily dependent on the Nile for their freshwater supply and agriculture, fear that the dam will reduce their access to this vital resource. The negotiations were marked by tensions and disputes, illustrating how the growing scarcity of water can exacerbate conflicts in the region.

Similarly, the Middle East region in general is facing increasing water shortages as a result of climate change, overexploitation of water resources and rapid population growth. Local and international conflicts often arise around scarce water resources, such as the Jordan River and the Tigris-Euphrates, with major geopolitical and security issues at stake. Competition for water resources thus becomes a potential catalyst for inter-state tensions and conflicts, underlining the crucial importance of collaborative management and adaptation to changing climate-related realities to prevent future crises in these vulnerable regions.

14- Loss of tropical forests:

Tropical forests, which play a key role in regulating the climate, are being destroyed at an alarming rate.

The loss of tropical forests has a considerable impact on global warming, as these ecosystems play a crucial role in regulating the world's climate. Tropical forests absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, storing this carbon in their biomass and in the soil. When these forests are deforested, burnt or degraded, the carbon they contain is released into the atmosphere in the form of CO2, making a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Tropical deforestation is responsible for a substantial proportion of global CO2 emissions, accelerating global warming. In addition, the loss of tropical forests also reduces the Earth's capacity to absorb CO2, creating a vicious circle of global warming and forest destruction. The conservation and restoration of tropical forests therefore play an essential role in the fight against climate change by limiting carbon emissions and preserving the planet's ability to regulate its climate.

15- Air pollution:

Global warming is contributing to air pollution, with serious impacts on human health.

Global warming exacerbates air pollution in several ways. Firstly, it is contributing to an increase in the concentration of tropospheric ozone, an air pollutant that is harmful to human health. Higher temperatures encourage the formation of ozone at ground level, particularly in urban areas, where emissions of pollutants from vehicles, factories and other sources are high. Ground-level ozone can cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease and other health problems in humans.

In addition, climate change is exacerbating air pollution by increasing forest fires and fine particle emissions. Warmer temperatures and longer periods of drought create conditions conducive to forest fires, releasing large quantities of fine particles and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These fine particles can penetrate deep into human lungs, causing respiratory problems, heart attacks and other serious medical conditions. An example of the this is the poor air quality in Portharcourt city, Rivers State, Nigeria. The black soot caused by flaring from oil rigs and illegal refineries has given the city a permanent dark cloud above making it difficult for residents to breathe and increasing their chances of developing lungs cancer.  Consequently, global warming not only contributes to air pollution, but also exacerbates its harmful effects on human health, underlining the crucial importance of climate change mitigation in protecting air quality and public health.

16- Disruption of marine ecosystems: Ocean ecosystems are being disrupted by rising temperatures and ocean acidification.

Global warming is seriously disrupting marine ecosystems worldwide. The oceans are absorbing much of the excess heat resulting from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to an increase in water surface temperatures. This rise in temperature has devastating consequences for marine life, including the discolouration of coral reefs, changes in species distribution areas, and the displacement of species to colder habitats, which disrupts marine food chains.

In addition, the acidification of the oceans due to the absorption of atmospheric CO2 is making life more difficult for many marine organisms, particularly shellfish, mollusks and corals, which depend on calcium carbonate to form their shells and skeletons. Climate change is also intensifying extreme weather events, such as storms and cyclones, which cause coastal flooding and damage coastal marine habitats.

Overall, global warming is seriously disrupting the stability of marine ecosystems, threatening marine biodiversity, fisheries, coastal tourism and other vital industries, while exacerbating existing pressures such as overfishing and marine pollution. It is imperative that we take action to mitigate climate change and protect our precious marine ecosystems for future generations.

17- Animal migration: Animals have to migrate to higher altitudes or different latitudes to survive temperature changes.

Climate change is having a profound influence on the migration patterns of animals around the world. Variations in temperature, changes in precipitation patterns and the transformation of habitats are driving many species to move to new areas to find environmental conditions compatible with their survival. Migratory birds, for example, adjust their migration routes and schedules in response to climate change, while marine species move to colder latitudes in search of suitable water temperatures.

However, climate change-induced animal migration can create major conservation challenges. Certain species, particularly those with low mobility or those that are closely dependent on a specific type of habitat, may find it difficult to adapt or move quickly. In addition, animal migration can disrupt local ecosystems by altering predator-prey interactions and competition for resources. Ultimately, animal migration is a clear indicator of the upheaval that climate change is inflicting on biodiversity, underlining the need to adopt appropriate conservation measures to protect vulnerable species and preserve ecosystems in the face of these growing environmental challenges.

18- Rising economic costs: The economic costs associated with climate-related disasters are increasing rapidly.

Climate change is having a significant impact on the global economy, living costs and inflation. Extreme weather events, such as storms, floods, forest fires and droughts, have considerable economic costs, affecting agriculture, industry, insurance and infrastructure. Extreme weather events can lead to crop losses, supply chain disruptions, infrastructure damage and even mass population displacement. These costs are passed on to consumers in the form of a more expensive life, as food, energy and insurance prices rise in response to climate volatility.

Climate change can also have an impact on inflation. Variations in the prices of raw materials such as oil, cereals and metals are often linked to weather conditions and extreme climatic events. When these prices rise as a result of climate change, this can fuel inflation by increasing production costs and reducing household purchasing power. Ultimately, climate change creates increasing economic pressure, requiring investment in disaster resilience, adaptation to changing conditions and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate these long-term negative economic impacts.

19- Threat to national security: Climate change can aggravate international tensions and national security by disrupting vital resources.

Climate change is a major factor in insecurity in many parts of the world. Extreme weather events linked to climate change, such as prolonged droughts, devastating floods, violent storms and uncontrollable forest fires, have serious impacts on food security, access to drinking water and economic stability. Farmers and rural communities are particularly vulnerable to climatic variations, as their livelihoods often depend on favourable weather conditions. When these conditions become unpredictable or destructive as a result of climate change, it can lead to forced migration, conflicts over access to resources and humanitarian crises.

In addition, climate change exacerbates existing conflicts in many regions, as it creates pressure on natural resources, particularly water and land, which can trigger struggles for control. Climate-induced migration due to the loss of arable land or rising sea levels can also lead to tensions between local populations and migrants, exacerbating conflict and regional instability. Ultimately, climate change acts as a threat multiplier in many regions, creating conditions conducive to food insecurity, poverty, forced migration and conflict, with profound consequences for global security.

20- Cumulative effects: The consequences of climate change are interconnected and can have devastating cumulative effects..

The consequences of climate change are deeply interconnected and interdependent, creating a complex web of mutually reinforcing impacts. For example, rising global temperatures are causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise, which has a direct impact on coastal areas, increasing the risk of coastal flooding and threatening coastal ecosystems. As a result, it is disrupting marine habitats and affecting marine biodiversity, with implications for fishing, food security and the local economies that depend on them.

In addition, climate change is causing more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as storms and droughts. These extreme weather events have an impact on food security and agriculture, destroying crops, disrupting the food supply chain and causing rural populations to migrate to cities. This growing urbanisation can in turn put increased pressure on urban infrastructure, access to fresh water and energy, exacerbating greenhouse gas emissions and further fuelling climate change. In short, it is crucial to recognise these interdependent links between the various consequences of climate change and to implement global solutions that take account of these complex interactions if we are to deal effectively with this global challenge.

The climate emergency could in no way be a myth when all these realities are taken into account. Evidence abounds, from rising temperatures and melting glaciers to ocean acidification and extreme weather events. The impact of climate change is not limited to nature; it also threatens our societies, our food security, our economies and our livelihoods. The climate emergency requires immediate and coordinated action on a global scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote adaptation to unavoidable changes and preserve our planet for future generations. It is time to take bold and decisive action to tackle climate change and build a more sustainable and resilient future for all.