It is now not debatable that “people in one part of the world can harshly affect the human health and environment of people in other parts of the world separated from those who are causing the problem by time and great distance. Climate change is a strong example of this. However, there are many emerging global environmental problems that also can be understood as problems being caused by some people that harshly affect others. Examples include, the loss of upper atmospheric ozone, over fishing by trawlers from developed countries at the expense of subsistence fishermen in poor developing countries, and long range transport of toxic chemicals in the atmosphere that are deposited at long distances from emissions locations. Some toxic substances are known to put animals and people at risk at great distances from the place of emissions.”
The best example of how local environments are affected by distant climate change is the issue of global warming. China and the US are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses that are causing global warming, yet the effects of global warming are felt by the entire world. Because of global warming, ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. This means that a lot of water that was previously ice is being released into oceans, causing a worrying rise in sea levels. Researchers report that sea levels have been rising at the rate of more than 3.4 mm per year in the past 50 years. The world has become so warm that it is reported that some ski resorts now have to use equipment to make ice!
A river or ocean may be contaminated at one point, but the effects of that contamination might travel hundreds of miles from where the contamination took place through the water.”The problem of ocean pollution affects every nation around the world. This is especially true because water is able to transport pollution from one location to another.”
Air also transports pollution from distant places to other places. For example, after the 1967 Mayak nuclear incident, it was found that strong winds picked up radiation from a dry lake and “spread it across an area roughly the size of Maryland”, affecting more than 400,000 people. It has also been found that “acid rain moves easily, affecting locations far beyond those that let out the pollution.” Countries that are causing pollution are, unfortunately, affecting the lives and livelihoods of people beyond their borders who have no say in the political leadership of the polluting countries.
Local environment can be affected by distant climate change also in that some localities depend on imports from distant places. For example, a country like the US depends a lot on imports from China. The US also gets a lot of food from Latin America. If the places that supply us were to have major climate changes, they might not be able to supply us with the imports. Local environment can also be affected by distant climate change in that when distant places experience climate changes, people will migrate from their homes in those places to safer places. Safer places will therefore be faced with the problem of mass migration. South Florida, New Orleans and other coastal cities are said to be under the real threat of rising sea levels. Rising sea levels mean loss of land, homes and loss of holiday destinations.
People all over the world are or will be affected by distant climate changes also because as the ice melts in the Polar Regions, new sea routes/ strategic places are being opened up and countries are making claims to these newly available routes/places. This will cause friction between countries as they compete for these new routes/places, and these areas will become new areas of conflict. Britain, the US, Canada, and of course China have scrambled to lay claim to these routes/places.