You must have observed this…
The disturbing headlines about growing natural disasters around the world are becoming more frequent.
As disasters affect society and the national economy, the chain reaction has an impact on governments and politics. No wonder the subject of disasters being related to climate change remains politically sensitive.
In reality, the stark effects of climate change are staring us in the face like never before. While the pandemic turns our lives upside down, climate change keeps chipping off the fragile balance that the planet has maintained for centuries.
As we find our way out of a global disaster and return to our normal lives, we have something grim waiting for us. The scary thing is, it can be even deadlier.
When we discuss prepping for climate change, it brings out a lot of questions.
To start with, addressing the “how”, “why”, and “is it real” aspects of climate change is important.
But the most important question is this- as an individual how can you prepare yourself to face the consequences?
It’s time to look for the answers.
Climate Change: The Background
Our planet comes with a 4.5-billion-year old history. In this long period, there were many variations in the earth’s climate along with cycles of heating and cooling. But now, the cycles that used to happen over thousands of years, are happening within decades.
The past records have already proved the sensitivity of the planet towards rising levels of carbon dioxide. But this time, the rising levels aren’t natural. It’s completely man-made.
Scientists use the term climate change to describe the wider range of shafts occurring in weather and temperature patterns across the globe. The effects include extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and changes in wildlife patterns.
Basically, the solar radiation absorbed by the planet is reflected back into space. This maintains the right balance between incoming and outgoing energies. But greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and others trap the heat inside the atmosphere.
Based on the data gathered over the years, there’s no doubt that the rising levels of these pollutants are making the earth warmer.
Let’s make one thing clear.
The generation of a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide doesn’t lead to climate change. In fact, CO2 is an integral part of the organic cycle of life. The problem is, humans are generating the gas at an alarming rate. The present levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are the highest in 800,000 years.
Since the industrial revolution, the temperature has been rising steadily. In fact, temperatures in the Arctic have been rising since the mid-nineteenth century. A major reason behind this is the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, gasoline, and natural gas.
According to some scientists, we are living in the “Anthropocene” age– a new geological time period defined by the actions of humans on the planet.
Here’s a fact:
As per the World Meteorological Organization, the decade 2011-2020 has been the warmest in recorded history. Six of the warmest years in history have been after 2015. Since the 1980s each consecutive decade has been warmer than the last one.
Note, the data was gathered not just from temperature readings and satellite images. Scientists looked into nature’s own archives that store the records of a changing climate. These include coral skeletons, tree rings, ocean and lake sediments, ice cores, and others.
At this point you realize, the threat of climate change is real.
The civilization we created is pushing us to the brink of a disaster.
The Effects of Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared that the net damages resulting from climate change are set to increase over the years. The average annual loss from extreme climate events in the United States has already touched $126 billion.
But it’s not just the economic losses that are a cause for concern. Here are a few major effects of global warming we are likely to face.
- The temperatures will keep on rising
- There will be changes in precipitation patterns. It may be high in some areas and decrease in others.
- Rising temperatures will result in more droughts and heatwaves.
- The intensity and the frequency of hurricanes and other storms will rise.
- As glaciers and ice caps melt due to a rise in sea temperatures, sea levels will rise between 1 to 8 feet by 2100.
- Damage to the ecosystems and around 20-30% of species facing a risk of extinction.
Note, these aren’t assumptions. We are facing the reality.
Each of these results can have disastrous effects on human lives and health that we aren’t prepared to face. It also means a scarcity of the basic resources needed for human survival. Unfortunately, due to its relatively slow pace and sporadic effects, we often miss the larger picture of climate change.
So what exactly should preppers need to be ready for?
At present, it’s not possible to precisely link the origins of catastrophic natural disasters to global warming. But scientists have pointed out some that have been triggered by climate change. The varied nature of the events proves climate change can lead to natural disasters of all sorts.
Take a look at some of them.
- The California wildfires in 2020 which is being termed as the first ‘gigafire’.
- The wide-scale death and destruction caused by the 2016 winter blizzard in the United States.
- The disastrous effects of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
- Frequent droughts in East Africa that affected around 15 million people.
- Large-scale floods that caused heavy economic losses in China in 2020.
- Wide-scale destruction from the bushfires in Australia in 2019 and 2020.
- 2021 floods in the Nanda Devi National Park in India due to a glacier collapse.
- Desert locust infestation between 2019 to 2021 in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula threatening the food supply.
Now, observing the effects of climate change is one thing. But taking the right steps to meet the challenges is a different ballgame altogether.
What Can We Do to Stop Climate Change?
At present, the goal for addressing climate change is to limit the temperature rise below 2° Celsius or 3.6° Fahrenheit above the preindustrial level. As per the Paris Climate Agreement, the preferred limit is 1.5° Celsius. There’s plenty of evidence that shows the effects of temperatures rising above 2 degrees can be disastrous.
The Paris agreement focused on the collective steps taken by each country to achieve a long-term goal. A “global stocktake” will take place in 2023 and every 5 years subsequently, to assess the overall progress.
The truth is this isn’t an easy goal. Since there’s no magic solution for the problem, the approach has to be multi-pronged.
Options include using technologies like “bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration” to reduce carbon levels. But the technology is still at a nascent stage and far from being used commercially. Other suggestions include refreezing the poles by geoengineering through a series of wind-driven pumps.
Other efforts include the development of zero-emission fuel cells and batteries to store renewable power.
A recent study has pointed out forests across the world can store 2.5 gigatons of CO2. So restoring chopped-down forests and planting more trees are also effective solutions.
Even so, there are steps all of us can take to prevent climate change. The small steps and daily decisions by private citizens can make a big impact in the long run.
The main steps are the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. The United States has set a goal of reaching 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity generation by 2035.
The worldwide goals also involve cutting down tailpipe emissions and boosting the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. Many of the top brands are also taking initiative. For example, General Motors has announced the target to become carbon-neutral by 2040.
In terms of renewables, the global target is to add 1041 gigawatts (GW) of additional renewable energy sources by 2030. As per the projections, the total growth of renewable power generation sources will be 42% higher in 2030 from 2019.
As a private citizen, the most effective action one can take is to reduce the use of cars. Walking, biking, or using public transport are the best options. Since planes run on fossil fuel, reducing air trips can also help.
Using Energy Effectively
Here are some steps each of us can take to optimize energy usage.
- Use a heat pump instead of a furnace in your home
- Replacing a gas stove with an electric stove
- Checking for Energy Star label while buying new appliances
- Unplug all electronic devices when they are inactive
- Use a programmable thermostat for home heating or cooling
- Shift to energy-efficient LED light bulbs
There are various types of manufacturing plants that emit large volumes of greenhouse gases every day. Manufacturing products from recycled materials consume less energy. So recycling is one of the best ways to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Most common materials like paper, plastic, glass, and electronics can be recycled in a cost-effective manner.
Changing Diet Patterns
Since cattle are one of the major contributors to the greenhouse gas methane, the meat and dairy sector has a major role to play in climate change. Cattle also need huge amounts of water and fertilizers which contribute to greenhouse emissions. Cutting down the consumption of meat and shifting to organic products can help in emission reduction.
Spread The Word About Climate Change
There are various platforms for spreading the right messages about climate change. The importance of informing others regarding the seriousness of the situation cannot be overstated. By starting a climate conversation with your peers or family members, you can open their minds to the perils of climate change. Once individuals are confronted with reality, their perspectives can change.
Preparing For Climate Change
Here’s the truth.
Even if we stop pumping carbon into the air by some miracle and take the right steps, we aren’t going to reverse the situation anytime soon. The chaos related to climate change has already begun.
In fact, some authors have suggested the migration of people to avoid climate change-related calamities have already started from states like Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.
Quite simply, it’s necessary for everyone to be prepared and make smart choices.
The definition of a disaster can differ depending on your location and weather conditions. In any case, preparing an emergency kit and an INCH bag for emergency evacuations is a must. You can also help your family members, especially kids, to learn the right set of skills that can be useful during an emergency.
Keep in mind, prepping for climate change isn’t the same as avoiding one single disaster. So purchasing some emergency stuff and preparing a bug out bag isn’t enough. You need to prepare in the long term against a series of varied disasters that may strike any time.
And guess what?
There’s no place marked as “climate-safe”.
Now, in case you are above sixty, you won’t live long enough to face the worse of climate change. But if you’re in your twenties, it’s time to make the necessary preparations.
We have listed down some other essential steps you can take.
Modify your Home and Property
You need to prepare your property for stronger storms and floods. This also means staying prepared for unpredictable weather patterns like heat waves and extreme rainfall.
Take a look at some of the steps you can take.
- Flood proof your property and keep all valuable documents and precious items at a higher level.
- Don’t pave or tarmac the garden area as this will prevent the rainwater from draining off.
- Make the necessary structural upgrades to prevent roofs from collapsing or blowing away in a storm.
- Trim the trees around the house and keep the gutters and storm drains clean while preparing for a storm.
- Invest in backup systems like an electric generator to power your home when the grid is down.
- Try to save as much freshwater as possible and be prepared for droughts. Harvesting rainwater, using mulch in the garden, reusing bath water are some effective steps that can be taken.
Beyond that, almost everyone should have some kind of insurance on their property. That’s one aspect many of us neglect.
You need to have an emergency app on your phone that can warn you about any disasters coming your way. The app from American Red Cross is a good example.
Also, make note of the emergency shelters around your area. Keep an emergency plan and an emergency kit bag ready to head for safety if needed. This can save your life in critical scenarios.
Climate change can cause the sea levels to rise by up to 2 feet by the end of the century. If your property is in a low-lying coastal area you may plan on moving to higher ground in advance to save your children the trouble.
Adapt With the Climate
One thing is for sure.
Climate change is going to make things expensive for you.
Moreover, the effect will be more severe on the poor and the elderly. So adapting the cities, industries and individual lifestyles to climate change is necessary.
Firstly, be prepared to face heat waves and heavy snowstorms. Extreme weather events will affect communication and transport networks when they occur. It’s necessary to have your backup systems ready.
As the earth warms, conditions will be favorable for bugs like mosquitoes, ticks, and beetles to proliferate. This will lead to an increase in the rate of some nasty infections. It’s important to protect yourself with bug repellents for safety.
Note, we still don’t know the effect of climate change on microorganisms. So be prepared for bigger threats arising from climate change feedbacks from the microbiome.
All in all, it’s important to identify the risks and keep a plan of action ready. Also, take steps to protect the vulnerable from the worst effects.
Grow Your Own Food
It may seem higher temperatures and longer growing seasons can increase the production of crops. But unpredictable precipitation, heatwaves, and drought can wreak havoc on the crop cycles.
Future projections have already indicated a drastic fall in the yield of crops like maize and wheat. The effects of climate change will also disrupt the fishing industry to a large extent. So as time passes, there will be rising conflicts due to a shortage of food and water.
In this situation, a reliable survival garden can be a great option to become self-reliant. Garden fresh fruits and vegetables will add variety to your meals and help in stretching your food supplies.
While growing a survival garden, know that this isn’t the time to experiment. It’s best to stick to crops that grow well in your area. It’s possible you may not have a running water supply to sustain your garden. So plan to develop your garden on a limited water supply.
Finally, growing the plants in the right manner isn’t enough. You need to protect your garden from insects, critters, and trespassers.
Make no mistake about it. The proverbial SHTF scenario is upon us and there’s no going back.
Admittedly, the subject of climate change is politically polarizing. But when it comes to choosing between life and death, people will have to come together irrespective of political differences.
Without a doubt, the situation is tricky. So you need to plan it out with your family and stay prepared as best as you can.
The silver lining is, awareness and outlook towards climate change are changing. Even though it should have started years ago, the world’s governments, corporate houses, and investors are taking meaningful steps to cut emissions.
It’s true we have been caught off guard. But we can still improvise and take the right steps to ensure our safety.
Prepping for climate change-related disasters isn’t a smirk-inducing pastime anymore. It’s something that you must do to survive on the changing face of our planet.