Climate change is a natural as well as an anthropogenic hazard that often becomes a disaster, when it encounters vulnerability.
It practically affects every sphere of human life, ranging from the mundane to the inordinate things. Soon, there will be a climate change angle of walking, mode of breathing, pattern of dressing and way of talking; depending on the predominant climatic element.
The socio-economic effects are both positive and negative. On the positive side, climate change has spurred home improvement to counter cold or hot temperatures.
It has also enhanced the early ripening of crops while advantageously delaying crop maturity elsewhere.
Again, climate change has brought families together, especially the cold temperatures. Many people run home after work to sit around their fire places and family fellowship is nourished.
Unfortunately, climate change has more negative effects. Socially, climate change has been blamed for a rise in the cost of living, besides poor economic policies.
It is also a actor in quick and expensive change to wardrobes; big-budget change of residence or jobs; overpopulation in developing countries and proliferation of tropical illnesses, especially zoonotic diseases that are costly to treat and can cause death.
Extreme cold temperatures, that can aptly be termed ‘Tropical Winters’, have a lot to do with population explosion. Nairobi may experience a spring of ‘April babies’ next year, owing to the July’s cold temperatures. Climate change has also affected education negatively in many areas.
Excessive flooding does not only cut communication between homes and schools, but swamps schools and keeps away learners for days. If the syllabus is not completed on time, education performance can be compromised, occasioning the segmentation of a nation by climate change.
There is a rising level of stress and depression and although this is a topic ripe for medical research, it can be tagged on climate change.
Too much heat or cold, causing many health problems and economic losses, can easily cause frustration and emotional destabilisation.
Notably, there are more mad people today unlike in the past. Climate change is a factor behind the increase in social conflicts in the developing world.
In the rural areas, the scarcity of pasture, water and crop failure can cause people to be short-fused. Climate change can be blamed for tribal clashes in rural areas.
It is sad that it weighs down more on the poor, the old, the sick and the young.
Economically, it has led to extortionate costs of insurance for property and economic activities in areas prone to climate-induced perils.
It is also blamed for crop failure, deaths of livestock, scarcity of fish and the ensuing food and income shortages in regions where people live under environmental determinism. Tourism, especially local tourism, has also fallen under the evil axe of climate change.
TOO MUCH HEAT
There are areas that are endowed with attractive geographical and socio-cultural features, but tourists cannot access them because of too much heat, cold, rain or poor visibility.
Climate change, just like VAT, can also raise the cost of gasoline and lubricants used by motor vehicles and machinery.
Very cold temperatures, for instance, can degrade and sequestrate lubricants into phases that exhibit altered and unsuitable properties.
Paraffin, a precious commodity in many households, can be converted into wax and gel by extreme cold temperatures.
High temperatures can expedite base oil decomposition. Unlike wine, motor oil does not get better with age. Similarly, high temperatures can cause loss of gasoline, through vaporisation, eating into a car owner’s pocket.
Adaptation to climate change is essential. It is hoped that common sense will go into our choices of where we live, what we live in, how we live, what we do in the environment, how we do it and where we locate public utilities and how we make money.
Dr Kipkiror is an environmental consultant, a lead expert in environmental/ social impact assessment and a lecturer at the University of [email protected]