People: How much Climate Change will Cost our Society

5 minute read

Updated on: 12 Aug 2020

You may call it self-centred, but we care a lot about how climate change will affect people! In this chapter, we’ll look at what climate change means for people’s lives - for health and our wallets.

Too much water - or not enough?

Since climate change will affect the water cycle, floods and droughts are likely to become even more significant threats to human life.

Image of Number of people affected by weather-related disasters (excluding deaths) from 1995-2015

Image: Number of people affected by weather-related disasters (excluding deaths) from 1995-2015

This is more than half of the world’s current population!

Floods and drought also impact our food. Droughts and heatwaves have reduced cereal crop yields by 9-10% on average in the past few decades.

Image of Droughts and Food Insecurity

Image: Droughts and Food Insecurity

Will we have enough food?

Climate change will affect crop growth in very different ways around the world, based on the local climate and types of crops grown there. Take a look at the map below:

Image of Change in farming yields around the world by 2080

Image: Change in farming yields around the world by 2080

Countries already suffering from high levels of hunger will suffer the greatest food losses. If we don’t stop climate change, between 1 and 183 million extra people will be at risk of hunger by 2050.

Image of 66% of the calories eaten around the world come from wheat, rice, maize, and soybean

Image: 66% of the calories eaten around the world come from wheat, rice, maize, and soybean

Will our health be affected?

Yes!

Heatwaves, for example, can cause lots of problems for our health, these are expected to increase due to climate change, and it’s estimated that this will cause 38,000 extra deaths per year between 2030 and 2050.

2-3°C of warming is predicted to put 3-5% more people at risk of malaria because warmer temperatures allow these mosquitoes to reach new places.

How much will climate change cost us?

Climate change won’t only cost us lives, but it will cost us money.

If the world heats up by 2°C, we are likely to lose between 0.2 and 2.0% of the world’s income. This might sound small, but 2% of today’s income is over a trillion US dollars!

Where do these costs come from?

Storms currently cause 38% of the cost of disasters globally because they can destroy houses, telephone lines and other infrastructure. But costs also come from other disasters, like floods:

Image of Proportion of losses caused by each type of disaster (US$)

Image: Proportion of losses caused by each type of disaster (US$)

Since climate change will damage our health,, we will also need to spend more money on healthcare.

Will all countries be affected the same?

It’s estimated that developing countries will bear 75-80% of the costs of climate change - so global warming could increase global inequalities.

Image of Many more countries will lose money with 2°C of climate change than with 1.5°C of climate change

Image: Many more countries will lose money with 2°C of climate change than with 1.5°C of climate change

The poorest people on Earth will be most affected by the health impacts of climate change too, as they have less money to deal with them.

Image of Earthly didn't make this mess!

Image: Earthly didn't make this mess!

Over 90% of deaths already attributable to climate-related changes occur in developing countries – and children make up over 80% of those deaths.

All these consequences are likely to cause more conflicts (war and fighting) between different communities and countries. Poverty, lack of resources and migration can all lead to conflict, and each of these are expected to worsen with climate change.

Conclusion

Climate change will cost us lives and money. These consequences will have the biggest impact on the poorest people on Earth, who are least responsible for climate change in the first place.

But people aren’t alone on the planet! Next, we’ll look at consequences for wildlife…

Next chapter