Extreme climate change globally has made life hell for homeless people everywhere. Global warming has led to high temperatures all over the world, as well as severe storms and hurricanes and floods. Those who have homes can protect themselves from scorching heat waves, rains etc. But those who are homeless, are exposed to all kinds of weather, and according to the latest research, deaths due to extreme climate change would increase by a whopping 50 times by 2080. There is also a greater number of homeless people now, than ever before. Let’s see the reasons behind homelessness, the affect on them due to climate change and what could be the possible solution/s:
Homelessness is increasing by the day
There are many factors why homelessness is increasing worldwide. People, mostly women and children leave home due to domestic violence, or abuse of some kind or the other. Old people are also found living on the streets, if they have no one to care for them and old people’s homes are too expensive for them. Drug addicts and other substance abusers are also homeless. Most homeless people are homeless just because they are too poor to afford any kind of housing. Buying a home is a far cry; even the most nominal rent is beyond their means.
Thus, poverty and homelessness are closely linked.
The number of homeless shelters are clearly not enough to accommodate all the homeless people. So, many people find shelter outside, which is not enough to keep them safe from the elements.
How climate change impacts the homeless
Living outdoors without a shelter is now life threatening. The homeless have to endure heat waves, the severity of which is increasing as the planet’s temperature is rising. They are dying due to heatstroke, flash floods, disease and infection which are brought on by floods. Pollution levels are at an all time high, causing breathing and heart problems. Wildfires in the countryside are killing those who live outdoors too.
In cities, the homeless are suffering from the urban island heat effect, as well as climate change. There are many reports of homeless people found dead whenever there is an unrelenting heat wave or due to other unnatural weather condition.
According to some studies, by 2100, people in Asia would not be able to move out of their homes due to extreme heat, let alone survive in the open.
What can be done to help the homeless
Governments, NGOs, charitable organizations and private individuals have to pay more heed to the condition of the homeless. More shelters need to be built so that they can offer protection to more homeless people. Employment opportunities should be created for those homeless people who can work. This would alleviate their poverty and help them get access to basic amenities like food and shelter. Rehabilitation of addicts would enable them to lead a normal life and stay off the streets.
Many people lose their homes due to natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires and flash floods. Wars have also displaced many people worldwide. There should be schemes provided by governments, which enable people to rebuild their homes in a safer and stronger manner. More trees should be planted, as trees can slow down water flow, thus stopping floods from causing severe damage. Other natural measures to combat floods should be adopted.
It’s time to wake up
Environmental activists have been predicting the effects of global warming for decades now, but very few people understood or acted on their concerns. Even now, there is a chance for governments and people everywhere to reduce the global warming effect by changing their non-ecofriendly habits.
At an individual level, using public transport, walking, cycling could contribute to decreasing the carbon footprint. Reducing waste at all levels, from food, water and energy to changing our lifestyle to reuse everything, from clothes to containers would help to get the global temperature down.
Homeless people have always suffered but now their condition has worsened due to the severe climate change, making their lives a living hell. Donating water to prevent dehydration, and pressurizing the governments to build more shelters can help to give the homeless a home too.