4 – Human & Environmental Impacts (Part I)

Climatepedia is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse particular policies or positions. See About Us for more information. 

No two regions experience climate change exactly the same.

We are about to dive into the individualized stressors experienced by regional ecosystems and the people who call these places home.

Global Impacts

Impacts of 1.5°C of Global Warming on Natural and Human Systems

“This chapter builds on findings of AR5 and assesses new scientific evidence of changes in the climate system and the associated impacts on natural and human systems, with a specic focus on the magnitude and pattern of risks linked for global warming of 1.5°C above temperatures in the pre-industrial period…” 

Read Executive Summary (page 177-181)

2018 • IPCC Special Report 

“We Have Seen It with Our Own Eyes”:

Why We Disagree about Climate Change Visibility

“Is climate change visible? The question is far from straightforward, animating citizens and scholars alike and provoking sharply divergent answers from different individuals and communities…”  

Read sections 1, 4 & 5

April 8, 2013 • American Meteorological Society

Climate Impacts on Ecosystems

Boundless Biomes

“The natural world is more varied than we can imagine, and one way to try to make this variation easier to handle is to put different environment types into groups. We can divide our surroundings many ways—by how much water there is, by how warm it is, or by the types of plants or animals we find there…” 

July 19, 2013 • Arizona State University

TED-Ed: The threat of invasive species

Land Use Change & Climate

“Land use and land use changes can significantly contribute to overall climate change. Vegetation and soils typically act as a carbon sink, storing carbon dioxide that is absorbed through photosynthesis. When the land is disturbed, the stored carbon dioxide—along with methane and nitrous oxide—is emitted, re-entering the atmosphere…” 

Accessed July 2020 • The Environmental Literacy Council

Our Changing Climate: Biodiversity is collapsing worldwide

5 Reasons Why Biodiversity is a Big Deal

“Earth is teeming with life, from huge blue whales and redwoods to tiny bacteria, archaea and fungi. It’s not just the only planet known to host any life at all; it has so many species in so many places we still aren’t even sure how many there are…” 

May 22, 2020 • Treehugger


“Desertification has been described as “the greatest environmental challenge of our time” and climate change is making it worse. While the term may bring to mind the windswept sand dunes of the Sahara or the vast salt pans of the Kalahari, it’s an issue that reaches far beyond those living in and around the world’s deserts, threatening the food security and livelihoods of more than two billion people….” 

June 8, 2019 • Carbon Brief

Food & Water Security

U.S. Water Impacts Overview

Water quality and water supply reliability are jeopardized by climate change in a variety of ways that affect ecosystems and livelihoods. Surface and groundwater supplies in some regions are already stressed by increasing demand as well as declining runoff and groundwater recharge…” 

2014 • National Climate Assessment

Water Security in a Changing Climate

“It is apparent that climate, water and weather-related concerns are mounting. Societies are becoming increasingly aware that impacts of extreme hydrometeorological events expected to occur in, say, the 2050s are starting to appear decades earlier…” 

2018 • World Meteorological Organization

Urban water security

In the literature, we observe four different focusses when researchers define and study water security: it is about using water such that we are increasing economic welfare, enhancing social equity, moving towards long-term sustainability or reducing water-related risks…

Read sections 2, 3 & 4.3  

May 4, 2018 • Environmental Research Letters

Food Security

“The current food system (production, transport, processing, packaging, storage, retail, consumption, loss and waste) feeds the great majority of world population and supports the livelihoods of over 1 billion people…” 

Read Executive Summary

2019 • IPCC Special Report

The global food system still benefits the rich at the expense of the poor

Food spreads cultural acceptance and understanding. But the spread of food also exposes a darker underlying history of globalisation and industrialisation. Patterns in the way that food is distributed around the world follow colonial-industrial trends from the past...”  

July 30, 2017 • The Conversation

NASA: Freshwater Movements Around the World

Groundwater Decline & Depletion

“Groundwater is a valuable resource both in the United States and throughout the world. Groundwater depletion, a term often defined as long-term water-level declines caused by sustained groundwater pumping, is a key issue associated with groundwater use...”

Accessed July 2020 • U.S. Geological Survey

What Water Issues Should Be Integrated?

“Faced with such unprecedented management complexities, many in the water profession started to look for a new paradigm for management, which would solve the existing and the foreseeable problems in different parts of the world…”

Read pages 7-11

January 31, 2008 • International Journal of Water Resources Development

Climate Change and Food Production Chains

“Researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have published an extensive report highlighting the effects of climate change on agriculture and global nutrition… 

2017 • Food Tank

Choose One

TED: The “dead zone” of the Gulf of Mexico

TED: How climate change could make our food less nutritious

Public Health

CDC: How climate affects community health

Let’s Learn Public Health: Determinants of Health

Connection to COVID-19

“As global temperatures rise, long-term changes in climate and wildlife habitat could have a significant effect on human health and increase the risk of infectious diseases like the coronavirus (COVID-19). Here are four reasons the battle against infectious diseases and pandemics is also about the fight against climate change…” 

May 19, 2020 • World Bank

Disasters and capitalism…and COVID-19

“Is the COVID-19 pandemic a disaster? If it is, how does it compare to other disasters that anthropologists have written about...” 

March 26, 2020 • Somatosphere

Psychological Impacts of Climate Change

“Research on the impacts of climate change on human well-being is particularly important given the relationship between understanding and experiencing climate impacts and comprehending climate change…” 

Read Executive Summary, page 12 diagram & key takeaways (pages 16, 25, 28 & 30) 

June 2014 • American Psychological Association

NCAR & UCAR: Ozone & Air Quality

Wildlife, Climate & Zoonotic Diseases

“A new United Nations report warns that more diseases that pass from animals to humans, such as COVID-19, are likely to emerge as habitats are ravaged by wildlife exploitation, unsustainable farming practices and climate change…” 

July 6, 2020 • NPR

Want to join in on our next discussion?

Apply now to participate in the next cohort of the Climatepedia Certificate Program. Share perspectives about these readings and the many different aspects of climate change with people around the world.

Optional Resources

NASA: IPCC Projections of Temperature and Precipitation in the 21st Century

Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas

“Aqueduct’s global water risk mapping tool helps companies, investors, governments, and other users understand where and how water risks and opportunities are emerging worldwide. The Atlas uses a robust, peer reviewed methodology and the best-available data to create high-resolution, customizable global maps of water risk…” 

Accessed July 2020 • World Resources Institute

Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the U.S.

“Climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people. The impacts of human-induced climate change are increasing nationwide…” 

2016 • U.S. Global Change Research Program

Climate, Sanitation & Health

“An estimated 4.5 billion people worldwide live without access to safely managed sanitation (WHO and UNICEF, 2017) which puts them at risk of infectious diseases. Climate variability and change exacerbate these risks by placing strain on sanitation systems, and therefore must be considered to ensure sanitation technologies and services are designed, operated and managed in a way that minimises public health risks…” 

July 2019 • World Health Organization

Biodiversity Hotspots

“A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high amount of biodiversity that experiences habitat loss by human activity. In order to qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, according to Conservation International, “a region must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (>0.5% of the world’s total) as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70% of its original habitat…” 

Accessed July 2020 • Penn State

Interactive Climate Impact Map

“The Climate Impact Lab is a unique collaboration of more than 30 climate scientists, economists, computational experts, researchers, analysts, and students from some of the nation’s leading research institutions…”

Accessed July 2020 • Climate Impact Map

Interactive Climate Impact Map

“Climate Central sea-level maps are based on peer-reviewed science in leading journals. These maps should be regarded as screening tools to identify places that may require deeper investigation of risk…”

Accessed Juy 2020 • Climate Central

Managing Fresh Water Across the United States

“Managing these water resources requires balancing growing demand for water in the face of shifting availability and changing climate. Many state and federal agencies and other organizations turn to NASA research, satellite data and analytical tools to help tackle these issues…” 

July 8, 2019 • NASA

Impacts, Risks & Adaptation in the U.S.

“These Summary Findings represent a high-level synthesis of the material in the underlying report. The findings consolidate Key Messages and supporting evidence from 16 national-level topic chapters, 10 regional chapters, and 2 chapters that focus on societal response strategies (mitigation and adaptation)…” 

2018 • Fourth National Climate Assessment