Global warming refers to the rise in the average global temperatures over the last fifty years, the fastest rise recorded in history (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2016). It is brought about by the collection of carbon dioxide and what is referred to as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These absorb the solar radiation and sunlight that have bounced from the surface of the earth and should have otherwise escaped to the space making the planet hotter, an occurrence referred to as the greenhouse effect. Global warming consequences such as extreme weather occurrences, rise in the sea levels, heat waves that have become more frequent and severe, as well as increasing risk of wildfires call for humans to prepare for their occurrence (“Earth Observatory” n.d.). Even though these effects can be prevented to reduce their severity in the future, there is a need to prepare for the unavoidable consequences that are already in the process.
The rise in the sea levels poses a threat such as flooding on the coast that may be very destructive especially to coastal communities. To prepare for the potential disaster, urban or physical planners need to confront the reality of the risk and plan for adequate measures to help the coastal residents in case of floods. The vital infrastructure in such areas needs to be planned and designed in a way that will withstand the floods that may be caused by the rising sea levels. Where possible, development in the high-risk flood sections should be discouraged as much as possible so that in the case of floods the damage is minimal or none (Natural Resources Defense Council 2016).
Some places are already experiencing extreme heat events, and this may become more common in the coming decades. Rising temperatures pose health risks to humans. The elderly and the young are at greater risk of lung complications like asthma and breathing difficulties. To prepare for the extreme heat occurrences, communities and cities need to communicate the dangers of extreme heat by ensuring timely access to the information and responses. Additionally, communities can prepare by having accessible air-conditioned public shelters. Where possible, city authorities should assess and intervene where people at the greatest risk are involved. Finally, there must be systems that help in alerting the relevant officials such as health professionals on high-risk individuals or ones in need in the event of extreme heat conditions. Further, architects, urban planners, and designers as well as other officials in the construction field should have interventions to mitigate rising heat in neighborhoods, for example, through increasing green areas and having reflective roofs and pavements.
Another consequence of increasing extreme heat events is the rising number of wildfires. The wildfires are ignited and spread by the hot and dry conditions brought about by the rising temperatures (“Earth Observatory” n.d.). It is important for communities to prepare for such wildfires by making smart decisions to safeguard lives and properties. Development in and around areas at risk of wildfire should be discouraged and the existing communities should relocate to safer areas. Previous forest management practices that caused an increase in the more flammable fuelwood should be stopped since they increase the risk of wildfires. Additionally, in preparing for wildfires, it is important to use up-to-date equipment for better mapping and prediction. Then, the professionals need to carry out effective public awareness campaigns and make sure that the forest management and wildfire management practices consider climate changes.
“How Will Global Warming Change Earth?” Earth Observatory. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page6.php.
“Global warming 101.” Natural Resources Defense Council, 2016. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101.