Consequences

Print PDF

The consequences of unmitigated climate change include massive loss of wealth and potential loss of life. Sea level rise, flooding, drought, storm intensification, and reductions in crop productivity are several of the predictable consequences of climate change.

Relocations of coastal populations and destruction of property will result from intensified storm activity, flooding, and sea level rise. A large fraction of the world’s population lives in coastal areas that are at risk from sea level rise and storm intensification due to climate change. In less-developed areas of the world, limited inability to respond to emergency situations will likely exacerbate the human toll.

Ecosystems will be permanently altered, some destroyed, by climate change, with consequences that we do not yet fully understand. The tenuous nature of ecosystems is such that the loss of key species can lead to extinction for other dependent populations.

 


Shifts in mountain snowmelt patterns are disrupting water supply and rises in sea levels are contaminating freshwater aquifers around the world. Storms that could be intensified under climate change have had devastating results for coastally located cities as well as island nations. In parts of Africa, severe droughts linked to climate change and temperature increase are causing starvation and provoking tribal conflict. Island nations are being encouraged to start planning for mass relocations due to sea level rise.

As climate change impacts worsen, it sets the stage for heightened geopolitical tensions that lead to more conflict. Even countries relatively insulated from the immediate effects would be drawn into such conflicts in both a humanitarian role and to protect interests abroad.

The risks posed by unchecked climate change are so large and potentially irreversible that inaction cannot be justified.