Climate change: the impacts

Climate change will impact our lives, our environment and our economies.

Climate change devastates lives

  • Climate change could kill up to 180 million people in Africa. Source: Christian Aid
  • 150,000 people already die every year from climate change. Source: World Health Organisation
  • 100 million more people will be flooded by end of century. Source: Friends of the Earth
  • 30 million more people may be hungry because of climate change by 2050. Source: The Hadley Centre
  • Rising sea levels and crop failures could create 150 million refugees by 2100. Source: Stop Climate Chaos

Climate change devastates the environment

  • Up to a third of land-based species could face extinction by the middle of the century. Source: RSPB
  • Global warming will submerge many low-lying island nations. Source: Stop Climate Chaos
  • Global warming is heating the Arctic almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet in a thaw that could wipe out polar bears. Source: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
  • If the Arctic ice continues to melt sea levels could rise by up to 7m. This would overwhelm countries like Bangladesh and also major cities like London and New York. Source: People and Planet

Climate change devastates economies

  • The direct costs from the 2003 European heatwave were over 1n for agriculture and over 1n for buildings. Source: CNN
  • The annual bill for flood damage could increase by up to 2┬ábillion across Europe. Source: Association of British Insurers
  • The economic costs of global warming are doubling every decade. Source: United Nations

But isn’t it nice if it gets a bit warmer?

No, unfortunately it’s not. Climate change is not good news for anyone, even for countries with a climate like the UK.

Hotter summers will mean more water shortages, fires and damage to crops and wildlife. Wetter winters will mean rising river levels and heavy flooding. The cost to society, the environment, our health and the economy far outweighs any potential benefits.

The Potential “Tipping Point”
If we continue emitting greenhouse gases in the way have in recent decades then in addition to the risks associated with extreme weather events, there is also an increasing likelihood of a severe, irreversible and abrupt climate change.

Permanent shifts in weather patterns have happened on various occasions in the history of our planet, for example in the ice ages. But will our activities really trigger another one?

One such event would be the shutdown of the ocean conveyor, the ocean currents which deliver vast amounts of heat these regions. The thawing of the Arctic ice triggered by temperature increases could potentially disrupt or even halt the operation of these currents. If this were to happen, average temperatures could drop by as much as 10.

So the great irony is that the “global warming” we are experiencing could actually plunge North America and Western Europe into a deep freeze, possibly within only a few decades.

Click here to read a NASA report about the potential shutdown of the ocean conveyor.
In Summary

The increasing levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are causing the world to heat up. There’s overwhelming scientific evidence, not only that climate change is happening, but also that it’s caused by our activities. Unless we take action to stop climate change the effects on our lives, our environment and our economies will be devastating.