Many essential industries will be greatly impacted over the next century by climate change, which scientists agree is in great part caused by humans releasing C02 into the atmosphere. According to the Guardian newspaper, climate change is already contributing to thousands of deaths each year due to extreme weather events, and is causing over a trillion dollars a year in financial damage.
Global C02 emissions are expected to increase exponentially as developing countries such as China ramp up their fossil fuel consumption to support fast-growing economies. Even though some countries are trying to impose renewable energy targets to limit climate change, this is often seen as too late to reverse the trend of increasing C02 in our atmosphere.
Yet, there are sceptics out there who believe that climate change is not even happening and continue to use as much resources as they can. Some countries refuse to acknowledge climate change and resist shifting to renewable resources. If countries continue to ignore these issues, then the speed of climate change will increase.
Basic science suggests that one disruption in the food chain can affect the rest. Most important and necessary commodities on the planet will become scarcer as temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more common. Not only will sea levels rise and droughts occur, but acidity levels will rise too as a result of the increasing C02 levels in the atmosphere.
This change in the global environment will have a huge negative effect on animal life, habitats and worldwide water supplies due to the disruptive effects of climate change. Furthermore, climate change will also have a big impact on the energy industry as people respond to the growing threat of climate change by shifting away from fossil fuels and towards more renewable sources of energy. Here are the five important industries that are already being negatively affected by climate change.
5 5: Fossil Fuels
The fossil fuel industry has long been considered indispensable and accounts for more than 80% of the current global energy use. However, it is certain to be hit hard in the near future by consumers’ reaction to climate change as countries reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
Although coal and gas supplies could last for more than 100 years before running out completely, scientists believe that the world cannot survive the release of the five trillion tons of C02 that consumption of all of the world's fossil fuels will lead to. This would result in even more extreme weather events than are currently being experienced.
As a response to the threat of climate change, countries such as the US are already responding by establishing renewable energy targets, and as a result fossil fuel companies are facing a huge risk of going out of business before the end of the century. One example of this fossil fuel target is President Obama’s pledge to have the US federal government uses 20% renewable energy by 2020. Not only will the supplies of fossil fuels eventually run out, but the demand for them will decrease as well. The fossil fuel industry will hit one of the biggest price bubbles in history and could implode within the next century.
4 4: Forestry
Throughout the Boreal regions, there already has been a rise in mean annual temperatures of 2.5 degrees Celsius where additional increases are expected by 2050. Even though it might seem like a small amount of change in temperature, it has a devastating effect.
Many experts are anticipating more repeated droughts and wildfires that could cause severe economic losses for the Forest Industry. Despite the fact that there might be a stimulation of tree growth, the wildfires are more likely to release hefty amounts of CO2 back into the atmosphere, which in turn could contribute to further surges in temperatures.
At the same time, insects like the Mountain Pine Beetle could spread and have another population outbreak in other forests. Sadly, infected forests are being cut down without the thought of the long-term effects on reproduction, as well as erosion, and the CO2 release from the trees being cut.
3 3: Bees
According to many beekeepers and scientists, climate change is one of the underlying causes of 50 percent of honeybees losses in the US and UK. Bees are essential for pollinating the vast majority of the fruits and vegetables that we eat, and if they were to go extinct the costs could tally into the trillions and potentially cause mass starvation.
Although honeybees are normally extremely adaptable, they are very vulnerable to extreme weather. For instance, if the honeybees wake up too early from hibernation in the spring and the plants are still asleep, the bees starve to death with no pollen to harvest. On the other hand, if they wake up too late the plants have already begun pollinating and they get less food as a result.
As more bees disappear in part due to climate change, people would over time lose access to over half the products available in a grocery store, as Whole Foods recently demonstrated in public. One-third of all the food we eat is pollinated by bees. If climate change continues, then the bees will no longer be able to thrive in large numbers and we will see huge spikes in produce prices, as well as widespread famine.
2 2: Fishing Industry
With changes in the ocean currents as well as rising temperatures and acidity in the waters, the fishing industry has already begun to feel the heat from climate change. The rising temperatures have forced much marine life to either go into deeper waters or migrate to a more comfortable habitat.
There is evidence to support that there has been a decrease in fish abundance and size throughout recent years, which is also partly due to overfishing. This is a major concern since many people in the developing world depend heavily on the fishing industry where fish is a staple food.
The short-term effects consist of changes in harvest, social stress, and political conflict regarding debates on allocation of mixed-stock fisheries. However, in the long-term, there will be a significant change in fish prices as well as changes in fishery management and technologies pertaining to the utilization and harvesting of fish.
1 1: The Water Industry
Water is vital to all and with temperatures on the rise, water levels could eventually fall to alarming rates. Already there has been a reduction in the availability of fresh water
from reservoirs and rivers, which could eventually lead to an increase in future water demand with higher prices.
Warm weather results in greater evaporation that dries out some areas while excessive precipitation in other areas leads to flash floods. At the same time, economic activities that rely on water (i.e. power plants and food crops) may be reduced in order to supply water to people.
The water industry includes drinkable water and sewerage treatment as well as bottle water. There will be a need for new infrastructure due to excessive rain into the drains and runoffs.
Due to the oil industry, plastic bottle water will be frowned upon because of the environmental concerns. Draughts are a major concern, because many farmers depend on water for their crops and essentially for their well-being too. As the climate begins to get hotter, humans will need more water to drink in order to stay alive, which could lead to disruption.