The Ministry for the Environment in New Zealand has published a list of challenges that will result from climate change impacts. As the wind and rain bang around outside, I thought I would list them for you:
1. Higher temperatures: there is likely to be an increase in demand for air-conditioning systems in summer; and conversely a reduction in demand for winter heating.
2. Flooding: more river flooding, and flash flooding from urban drainage.
3. Water Resources: Water demand will be heightened during hot, dry summers.
4. Health: higher levels of mortality related to summer heat, and reduction in winter mortality.
5. Biodiversity: Warmer weather would favour conditions for increased growth of forests and vegetation, but also competition from exotic species as well as the spread of disease and pests.
6. Build environment: Increased heat may reduce comfort in domestic, commercial and public buildings, with business disruption.
7. Transport: Damaged elements of transport infrastructure such as buckled railway lines.
8. Business and finance: Difficulties in obtaining insurance for weather risks.
The Business Insider has published a list of devastating effects of climate change, as the precursor to the next International Climate Change Meeting, set in Paris next year. Some of these are as follows:
1. Climate change will be insanely expensive. Asset destruction, forced relocations, droughts, extinctions will all add up in costs to the global economy.
2. Hundreds of millions of people may be displaced by 2050, and 98 per cent of all displacement in 2012 was related to climate and weather-related events.
3. An additional 8 per cent of the world population will experience water scarcity by 2100.
4. Storms could become up to 11 per cent more intense and 20 per cent wetter by 2100.
5. Global wheat and maize yields are already beginning to decline due to reduced rainfall and higher temperatures, and this is predicted to continue.
6. Some small island nations could be destroyed by sea level rise.
7. 100 per cent of reefs may be at risk of extinction by 2050. Most sea temperatures have risen between 1 and 2.5C.
8. Increasing droughts will make the driest regions even drier.
9. Some reptile species could turn mostly female due to warmer temperatures, leading to extinction.
10. Many countries are losing glaciers, their main dry season water source.
11. Equatorial regions and parts of the Antarctic will see up to a 50 per cent decrease in their fisheries.
12. Some animals are shrinking. About 55 million years ago when the Earth was at its warmest, many animals such as the horse, got smaller. Studies have shown that animals, such as polar bears and reptiles, have started shrinking now.
13. An additional 20 million children will go hungry by 2050 from extreme weather events.
None of this is good news, and it is taking place right now. Everyone needs to exert pressure on governments to join attempts to reduce the severity of climate change. This is a matter of extreme urgency.
Sara Dickon is a founder member of Sustainable Whanganui; and committee member of UNANZ and NCWNZ.