5 – Human & Environmental Impacts (Part II)

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What do the regional impacts of climate change mean for those who live there?


This week is dedicated to the many faces of the climate crisis, and those who will be fighting on the front lines.


Economic Impacts

Economics Explained: The Harsh Economics of Climate Change

(Watch up to 7 minutes)

Business Risks

“It may be somewhat surprising at first glance that environmental factors do not feature among the top 10 risks named in the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Regional Risks for Doing Business Report. On deeper analysis, however, we can see that environmental risks – especially risks related to climate change – are certainly important to business leaders, not only in terms of physical threats in specific regions and countries, but also in the form of economic hazards related to climate change transition….” 

November 5, 2019 • World Economic Forum 

Discount Rates

“Social discount rates (SDRs) are used to put a present value on costs and benefits that will occur at a later date. In the context of climate change policymaking, they are considered very important for working out how much today’s society should invest in trying to limit the impacts of climate change in the future. In other words, they calculate how much guarding against future carbon emissions is worth to us now, weighing up the benefits future generations would experience against the costs that today’s society would have to bear…” 

May 1, 2018 • London School of Economics 

CNBC: How Climate Change Threatens to Wreck the Economy

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America

“Nearly twice as many properties may be susceptible to flood damage than previously thought, according to a new effort to map the danger. Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens…” 

June 29, 2020 • New York Times 

Winter Sports Advocates Map Economic Impact of Climate Change

“This winter gave skiers, snowboarders, and other winter sports enthusiasts ample reason to be happy. Boosted by blockbuster snowfall in February, the United States saw its snowiest winter on record according to the National Weather Service…” 

May 14, 2019 • Esri 

Key Economic Sectors and Services Vulnerable to Climate Change

“This chapter assesses the implications of climate change on economic activity in key economic sectors and services, on economic welfare, and on economic development…” 

Read Executive Summary (page 662-663)

2018 • IPCC Fifth Assessment Report 

Stranded Assets

“Reaching a goal of limiting climate change to less than two degrees of warming would require us to keep a large proportion of existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground. According to a 2015 study in Nature, an estimated third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and more than 80% of known coal reserves should remain unused in order to meet global temperature targets under the Paris Agreement. The value of ‘stranded assets’ might not be fully reflected in the value of companies that extract, distribute, or rely heavily on fossil fuels, which could result in a sudden drop if this risk were priced in….”  

January 23, 2018 • London School of Economics

BP and Shell Write-Off Billions in Assets, Citing Covid-19 and Climate Change

“Two of the world’s largest energy companies have sent their strongest signals yet that the coronavirus pandemic may accelerate a global transition away from oil, and that billions of dollars invested in fossil fuel assets could go to waste…”  

July 2, 2020 • InsideClimate News

Four Ways the Government Subsidizes Risky Coastal Rebuilding

“Certain federal programs encourage developers to build and rebuild in areas that are increasingly vulnerable to flooding and hurricanes…”  

June 19, 2013 • Pro Publica

Climate change rains insurance misery on homeowners

“Climate change is making home insurance unavailable or unaffordable in the riskiest areas for hurricanes, wildfires and flooding. As insurance companies pay record amounts to homeowners who have suffered partial or total losses, they retreat from or raise premiums in places where claims are owed…”  

November 26, 2019 • Axios

Implications for Tourism

“The tourism industry is one of the world’s largest, accounting for some 9% of global GDP and generating more than US Dollar (USD) 6 trillion in revenue each year. It provides livelihoods to more than 255 million people worldwide. The sector is particularly important for some of the world’s poorest countries, especially some Small Island States…”

Read pages 5, 10-12  

May 2014 • University of Cambridge

Human Security & Migration

Climate change poses security risks, according to decades of intelligence reports

Intelligence analysts have agreed since the late 80s that climate change poses serious security risks. A series of authoritative governmental and nongovernmental analyses over more than three decades lays a strong foundation for concern over climate change implications for national security…” 

April 8, 2019 • Yale Center for Climate Communication

Climate-induced migration and displacement: closing the policy gap

Climate-induced migration and displacement is falling between the policy gaps. Existing international frameworks and national policies are yet to make the crucial link between climate change impact on the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events, environmental degradation and human mobility…” 

Read Section 1 & 2

October 2016 • Overseas Development Institute

The climate crisis, migration, and refugees

On March 14, 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai struck the southeast coast of Mozambique. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 1.85 million people needed assistance. 146,000 people were internally displaced, and Mozambique scrambled to house them in 155 temporary sites. The cyclone and subsequent ooding damaged 100,000 homes, destroyed 1 million acres of crops, and demolished $1 billion worth of infrastructure…” 

2019 • Brookings

New Climate for Peace

“’A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks’, an independent report commissioned by members of the G7, identifies seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies in the decades ahead. Based on a thorough assessment of existing policies on climate change adaptation, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding, the report recommends that the G7 take concrete action, both as individual members and jointly, to tackle climate-fragility risks and increase the resilience of states and societies to them.”

Download full report, read pages vii-x and pick two subsections in Ch. 2

2015 • European Union Institute for Security Studies

Are We Thinking About Climate Migration All Wrong?

“Head-shaking and gasps emanate from the audience. I’m at a panel at the July Netroots Nation conference in Philadelphia, stacked with some of the foremost agenda setters in climate politics, and the room audibly reacts as one speaker pauses to make a dramatic point…”

March 14, 2020 • Rolling Stone

Meet the Human Faces of Climate Migration

“People move for many reasons – economic, social, and political. Now, climate change has emerged as a major driver of migration, propelling increasing numbers of people to move from vulnerable to more viable areas of their countries to build new lives…”

Watch the video (text is optional but has more info)

March 19, 2018 • World Bank

Built Environment

Framing Disaster

“While not all people are curious about how children acquire language or why some animals hibernate, those who have witnessed a disaster or heard about the destruction and suffering involved often want to know why it happened. Millions of disaster survivors are especially keen to have answers. The drive to understand hazards, vulnerability and risk comes in part from the questions that ordinary people ask, especially when these questions take on political salience and governments begin to question in turn…” 

Read pages 20-23, 27

March 2012 • The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction

Development and Disasters

“The consequences of Houston’s historic inundation, in deaths and dollars, are nowhere near fully tallied. Indeed, the economic costs — which will include everything from thousands of ruined and uninsured homes to higher national gasoline prices to lost business activity in the country’s fourth-largest city — will take months to calculate, and years to overcome, said Kevin Simmons, an economist at Austin College focused on storm impacts… 

August 30, 2017 • Pro Publica

VOX: Why chronic floods are coming to New Jersey

Combined Sewer Overflow Animation

Blue Green Solutions: A Systems Approach to Sustainable and Cost-Effective Urban Development

The Urban Domino Effect: A Conceptualization of Cities’ Interconnectedness of Risk

Cities are both at risk and the cause of risk. The interconnectedness of urban features and systems increases the likelihood of complex disasters and a cascade or ‘domino’ effect from related impacts. However, the lack of research means that our knowledge of urban risk is both scarce and fragmented...”

Read pages 2, 8-12, 15-16, 21, 25-26

January 2014 • United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Natural hazard impacts on industry and critical infrastructure

“Industrial facilities and critical infrastructure are vulnerable to the impact of natural hazards. These impacts can trigger so-called Natech accidents and the release of toxic substances, fires and explosions, potentially resulting in health effects, environmental pollution and economic losses...”

Read pages 1-3

November 2019 • International Journal for Disaster Risk Reduction

Climate change imperils 60 percent of Superfund sites

“At least 60% of U.S. Superfund sites are in areas vulnerable to flooding or other worsening disasters of climate change, and the Trump administration’s reluctance to directly acknowledge global warming is deterring efforts to safeguard them, a congressional watchdog agency says….”

November 18, 2019 • PBS

California To Fight Wildfires With Microgrids And Batteries

“California’s energy regulators just laid the framework for utilities to develop localized microgrids with battery storage — a move that comes in the aftermath of the state’s wildfires that have ravaged local economies and left consumers without power. Just how effective will this order be… 

June 16, 2020 • Forbes

Pro-Poor Climate Action in Informal Settlements

One of the greatest challenges for climate change adaptation is how to build resilience for the billion urban dwellers who are estimated to live in what are termed informal settlements4. These settlements have been built outside the ‘formal’ system of laws and regulations that are meant to ensure safe, resilient structures, settlements and systems 

Read pg. 2-4, pg. 8-10

November 2018 • United Nations Human Settlements Programme

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Optional Resources

Years of Living Dangerously, Season 1, Episode 1: Dry Season

Years of Living Dangerously, Season 1, Episode 3: The Surge

Sustainability & the Built Environment

“When the Athens Charter was adopted in 1931, the world’s population was two billion. By the drafting of the Venice Charter in 1964, that number had increased to three billion. Today, there are nearly seven billion people, with more than half living in urban areas…” 

2011 • The Getty Conservation Institute

Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration

“Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and Louisiana last August, causing $125 billion in damage, dumped more water out of the sky than any storm in U.S. history. By one calculation, roughly a million gallons fell for every person in Texas. The water rained down on a flat former bayou that had become a concrete and asphalt empire of more than 2.3 million people…” 

February 25, 2018 • Rolling Stone

Worldwide tourism accounted for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2013

“The study, which looks at the spending habits of travellers in 160 countries, shows that the impact of tourism on global emissions could be four times larger than previously thought…” 

July 2019 • Carbon Brief

Years of Living Dangerously, Season 1, Episode 2: End of the Woods

Fourth National Climate Assessment

“The National Climate Assessment (NCA) assesses the science of climate change and
variability and its impacts across the United States, now and throughout this century…”

2018 • National Climate Assessment

BlackRock Is Getting Serious About Climate Change. Is This a Turning Point for Investors?

“When the world’s largest asset management firm, BlackRock, announced sweeping changes to its investment and engagement approach earlier this month, even the cynics among us felt a glimmer of hope…”

January 27, 2020 • World Resources Institute

Livelihoods and Poverty

“This chapter discusses how livelihoods, poverty and the lives of poor people, and inequality interact with climate change, climate variability, and extreme events in multifaceted and cross-scalar ways. It examines how current impacts of climate change, projected impacts up until 2100, and responses to climate change affect livelihoods and poverty…”

2014 • IPCC Fifth Assessment Report

Climate Change Poses ‘Systemic Threat’ to the Economy, Big Investors Warn

“Financial regulators should act to avoid economic disaster, according to a letter from pension funds and other investors representing almost $1 trillion in assets…” 

July 21, 2020 • New York Times

PBS: Will climate change turn Miami into a ‘future Atlantis’?