Global Carbon Council

Climate Change Impacts


Climate Change Impacts

Human life and health are intimately dependent on our climate, which is very much affected by small changes in temperature. Global warming and the resulting climate change are already having dramatic effects upon weather patterns, sea levels, agriculture and health.

Other, more sudden effects are also thought possible, but are harder to predict: these include large, rapid changes to the earth’s atmosphere as methane and carbon dioxide are released with the melting of permafrost; changes in ocean currents leading to rapid major changes in climate; and swift ocean acidification as dissolved CO2 levels increase.

We can also predict that there will be changes to our social systems, from loss of habitable land (including many areas that are now densely inhabited), greater incidence of illness, loss of food production, and failures in infrastructure under extreme weather conditions, landslides, etc.

Major predicted continuing effects on the planet are:

  • Extreme weather

    Extreme weather, with more heat waves, desertification and drought in some areas, and more precipitation and flooding in others.

  • Sea-level rises

    Sea-level rises of between half a meter and a meter during this century

  • Changes to ecological systems

    Changes to ecological systems, including many extinctions and reduced ecodiversity

Just a few examples make the point that we cannot afford to ignore climate change and global warming, because the consequences of the changes which are already happening will, in turn, have huge, interlinked impacts on our general health, our societies, our living-spaces and our future opportunities as a species:

  • With more extreme weather events and natural disasters, we can expect higher incidences of resulting injury and death
  • Temperature and humidity variation can cause and exacerbate breathing difficulties, headaches, and skin complaints among other illnesses; changes in climate bring unpredictable changes in disease patterns, with children particularly at risk5
  • Changing patterns of water flow cause many reductions, increases, and uncertainties in water supply, with availability of clean water being affected in many areas
  • Drought and flooding threaten crops, and drive people from their homes, causing famines and mass migrations, causing economic pressure
  • Ecological change damages the natural habitats and lifecycles of many plants and animals, including plants, insects and animals necessary for agriculture, and the general ecology
  • Ocean warming and acidification from rising CO2 levels6 destroy habitats such as coral reef and alter the availability of fish for food in unpredictable ways
  • Rising sea levels threaten to flood and destroy low-lying towns and cities along water bodies

Some Effects of Global Warming and Climate Change

Global Warming and Climate Change