Climate change to trigger widespread hazards to Earth and humanity – many at the same time

Doyle Rice

Don't say we weren't warned. 

From human health to the world's food supply, from water scarcity to widespread migration and violence, the threats from climate change are much larger than previously thought, a study released Monday suggests. 

And in many places, several threats will be happening at once.

“It’s just going to be crazy," study lead author Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii at Manoa told NBC News. "We cannot imagine what will happen when all these things happen at the same time. 

"We have uncovered a more complete and realistic portrait of how much danger humanity truly faces with ongoing greenhouse gas emissions and the need for immediate action," he said.

Among other phenomena, researchers looked at how climate change will increase heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise, hurricanes, flooding, drought and shortages of clean water.

Humanity's burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal that power our world releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. This has caused the planet to warm to levels that cannot be explained by natural causes.

Flooding in Belhaven, N.C., on Sept. 15.

In addition to the unsettling results of his study, Mora told the Sydney Morning Herald that "it was also mind-blowing that we just refuse to wake up about how serious this is."

To better understand the threats we face, Mora and his colleagues reviewed more than  3,200 scientific papers and found 467 ways that climate change has affected all aspects of human civilization and the Earth itself.

In other words, by the end of the century, folks will have to endure not just one or two climate hazards, but potentially three, four or more at the same time. Coastal regions in tropical areas will see the most, according to the study.

Firefighters hold a line in the Camp Fire with a control burn Near Bloomer Hill in Butte County in California on Nov. 14, 2018.

More:Global warming boosted rainfall in some of the USA's worst hurricanes, study suggests

More:Sperm don't like heat, so climate change could damage male fertility, study says

More:By itself, bitcoin could create climate chaos within 20 years

“Greenhouse gas emissions pose a broad threat to humanity by simultaneously intensifying many hazards that have proven harmful in the past,” Mora said. “Further, we predict that by 2100 the number of hazards occurring concurrently will increase, making it even more difficult for people to cope.”

For example, in New York in 2100, people will endure four separate climate hazards, including drought, sea-level rise, extreme rainfall and high heat. By that time, Los Angeles will deal with three.

Although the scientists discovered few positive or neutral effects, the overwhelming majority of climate impacts are detrimental to humans.

"If we only consider the most direct threats from climate change, for example heat waves or severe storms, we inevitably will be blindsided by even larger threats that, in combination, can have even broader societal impacts," study co-author Jonathan Patz of the University of Wisconsin said.

The study was published Monday in Nature Climate Change, a peer-reviewed British journal. 

There is a new culprit in the greenhouse gas wars. Bitcoin and other blockchain activities use enough energy that they are a threat to lowering energy consumption.