While the effects of climate change are scientifically undeniable, many people in the UK and around the world still view it as something of an alien concept. The words themselves conjure up disaster movie images of huge sea storms, baking deserts or animal extinction, but far too often people don’t think of how climate change will affect them personally, not least in their wallet. With the UK currently enjoying a huge boom in employment, it is easy to see why.
A recent article from the Independent has outlined how climate change in Europe will have major consequences for normal people in their everyday lives. It is an important part of the growing discussion, as it can be too easy for people to ignore climate change by making it a distant issue. Many cling to attitudes along the lines of, “I’m not a polar bear, so I probably have nothing to worry about.”
Here are some of the main points of how climate change will affect all of us.
Rising food prices
A report from the National Academy of Sciences has claimed that crop production will fall by about 5%-15% for every degree Celsius that the earth warms. The effects of this in agricultural yields have already begun to be felt.
Coupled with the predicted rise in global population to around 10 billion by 2050, the world could be facing major food shortages. Not only will this result in famine affecting tens of millions, but it will also cause food prices everywhere to increase, pushing many low-wage families into increased poverty.
Direct costs of responsibility
Practically everything we use today is priced solely on the economic cost of its extraction or creation, with no contribution to the cost of clean-up or for ameliorating the cost to the environment. As climate change in Europe and elsewhere is being increasingly accepted as a major issue, there are loud calls for end-users to shoulder the costs that their consumption has for the environment.
The reasoning is twofold. Raising costs for consumers theoretically raises much needed capital for new policies and initiatives, but price also remains one of the most effective ways of changing consumer behavior.
Infrastructure and housing costs
As sea levels rise, a number of houses will be lost to coastal erosion, with the Environment Agency in the UK suggesting that by 2034 more than 800 coastal homes would be lost. This might seem relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but the major issue caused by rising sea levels is actually increased flooding, as swollen rivers get backed up by higher seas.
The managing director of Earth Capital, a firm of sustainable private equity specialists, Jim Totty says: “The insurance and reinsurance sector is a good sector to look at when trying to quantify the cost of climate change.” He goes on to say that one forecast from the UK government states that flood damage could cost the UK £6.2bn ($7.9bn) by the 2080s. The knock-on effects of these huge insurance costs will need to be covered by other consumers through their premiums.
The scale of disaster threatening the UK because of climate change in Europe and all around the globe is proving difficult for people to comprehend on an everyday level. All of our consumption habits need to change dramatically if a massive crisis is to be averted or reduced – even changes like moving to online project management software to cut down on physical management tools. Framing the conversation in terms that we can understand will prove vital over the coming years as change is translated from scientific theory to action.