5 Predictions for humans
It is also predicted that climate change will have a specific impact on humans – on our food, water, health and economies.
The IPCC assesses, for example, that:
For the major crops (wheat, rice, and maize) in tropical and temperate regions, climate change without adaptation is projected to negatively impact production for local temperature increases of 2 °C or more above late-20th-century levels, although individual locations may benefit.
The World Health Organization estimated in 2014 that there could be at least 250 000 deaths annually between 2030 and 2050 due to the impacts of climate change, and that the actual figure was likely to be higher because they did not include the effects of ‘economic damage, major heatwave events, river flooding, water scarcity or the impacts of climate change on human security and conflict’ (Watts et al., 2015).
How about economic costs? The IPCC (2014) assessed that ‘global economic impacts from climate change are difficult to estimate’, but made ‘incomplete estimates’ of global annual economic losses for a warming of around 2 °C from the present day: around a two-thirds chance that the loss of income would be between 0.2 and 2.0%, but more likely to be higher than this range than lower.
Coastal flooding (from extreme high sea level) is considered to be one of the most expensive aspects of future climate change because the world’s population is disproportionately located in ‘low elevation coastal zones’, less than 10 metres above sea level
The science of prediction is, of course, always changing. But if you were to try and control the climate, which impacts would you put first?