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Weekly newsletter of Saadi - Climate Change Vulnerabilities in Asia

Climate Change Vulnerabilities in Asia

Readers! let’s explore the key climate change impacts in Asia over the next three decades.
Heat-related human mortality
  • Warmer atmospheric temperatures, as well as an increase in extreme temperature events, will increase the risk of heat-related mortality.
  • In addition to mortality, extreme heat events cause economic losses; impact on health and well-being, labor productivity, crop production, and air quality; and increase the risk of wildfires.
  • Under a ~2.8°C warming scenario, climate change is expected to contribute to an additional 143,000 heat-related deaths in people aged 65+ by 2050, in Asia alone.
Water and food scarcity
  • Increased average temperature and extreme heat events—combined with a drying trend—will increase the risk of water shortages, crop failure, and lower crop production in Asia. This has implications for food security.
  • Global warming between ~2°C and 4°C will reduce agricultural yield over a large area of Asia. In Southeast Asia, land productivity is expected to decline by 18 – 32%.
  • Under a global warming scenario of 2°C, some parts of the Lower Mekong Basin (a major ‘food bowl’ covering regions of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos) could see local annual average temperature increases of 4 - 6°C. This will see major shifts in the distribution of suitable growing areas, with a net loss in yields of some staple crops such as maize.
Exacerbated poverty and inequalities
  • Disruption of basic services such as water supply, sanitation, energy provision, and transportation systems will have implications for local economies and “strip populations of their assets and livelihoods”. Such impacts are not expected to be evenly spread among regions and cities, sectors of the economy, or socioeconomic groups; they tend to reinforce existing inequalities.
  • Asia is predominantly agrarian, with 58% of its population living in rural areas, of which 81% are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. This dependence on natural resources makes rural livelihoods particularly vulnerable to climate variability (e.g. temperature, heat waves, precipitation).
  • In a low crop productivity scenario, producers in food-exporting countries (such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand) would benefit from global food price rises and reduced poverty, while countries such as Bangladesh would experience a net increase in poverty of approximately 15% by 2030.
Coral reef decline
  • Asia supports around 40% of the world’s coral reefs, mostly in the “coral triangle” in Southeast Asia. Independent of climate change, human pressures such as coastal deforestation, aquaculture and agriculture, water pollution, and over-exploitation of marine life have severely degraded these reef ecosystems – 40% of coral reefs and mangroves have been lost in Southeast Asia over the past 40 years1. These pressures make coral reefs less resilient to climate-related impacts such as acidification and bleaching events.
  • Global warming of more than 2°C will eliminate most coral-dominated reef systems.
  • Oceans absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing the greenhouse effect and potential global warming experienced by the Earth. However, this increase in CO2 is altering the ocean’s chemistry, making it more acidic. This makes it harder for marine calcifying organisms (such as corals, molluscs, and crustaceans) to form their skeletons and shells and results in slower coral reef growth (or net loss) and weakening of reef ecosystems. As atmospheric CO2 concentration continues to increase, the impacts of ocean acidification will worsen.
Species extinctions
  • Up to 50% of Asia’s total biodiversity is at risk due to climate change.
  • As climate change causes changes in habitats (through warming, drying, and changes in precipitation), the abundance, distribution, and composition of some species will inevitably also change. For example, the boreal forests of North Asia will move further north (to cooler latitudes) as global temperatures increase.
  • A doubling of present atmospheric CO2 concentrations (which represents a further ~3°C warmings) is expected to result in the extinction of many plant species and vertebrates.
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Saad Masood

I am a generalist and write about "optimism"

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