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What are the impacts of climate change - on us?

Feeling hot, hot, hot

The world is warming faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years. The global average temperature will increase between 1.4°C to 5.8°C by 2100. An increase of 2°C would massively impact on coral reefs, arctic systems and local communities.

Stop Climate Chaos believes that temperature rise must stay below 2°C in order to limit dangerous climate change.

Here at home the 10 August 2003 was the hottest day so far recorded in Britain: the highest temperature was 38.1°C (more than 100°F). And as cloud cover decreases, there will be increased exposure to harmful ultra-violet rays, which cause skin cancer.

The European heat wave in August 2003 - linked directly by many scientists to climate change - was the hottest in 500 years and killed 28,000 people. The likelihood of such heat waves may triple by the 2080s as a result of climate change. Cities such as Athens, Delhi and Chicago have sweltered under heat waves and seen death tolls rise.

Harvest for the World…?

The World Health Organisation say that 150,000 people already die every year from climate change. And people in developing countries are four times more likely to die in natural disasters than people in developed countries.

Poor people - especially children - are the least able to adapt to changes caused by climate change. They are the most vulnerable to 'natural' disasters; the least able to move from affected regions; and the most reliant on harvests coming at the right time.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Global sea level has risen globally between 0.1 and 0.2 metres during the 20th century and could rise by almost a metre by 2100. 100 million more people will be flooded by end of century.

Sea-level rise will help result in about 40-50 per cent of the world's coastal wetlands being lost by the 2080s. Rising sea levels threaten entire nations on low-lying islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans; the inhabitants of Tuvalu have had to be evacuated and sea level rise is causing coastal erosion in the Maldives.

If the West Antarctic ice shelf breaks away further then climate change global sea levels could rise by 5 meters or more by 2100. This would swamp many of the world's major cities including New York and Shanghai. In the UK, Hull, Cardiff, Portsmouth - even London - could be under water.

In the Arctic too, the dramatic impacts of climate change are already being seen. Glaciers and ice caps are continuing their widespread retreat during the 21st century and, by 2080, Arctic sea ice could completely disappear during the summer months.

Stormy Weather

Scientists predict that hurricanes and tornados will increase in intensity and range as a result of climate change. This means that category 4 and 5 storms - like the one that flooded New Orleans - will become more and more common.


Climate change could spark regional conflicts as millions of environmental refugees flee from floods and droughts, and food and water shortages. This figure could reach 150 million by the end of the century.

Money, money, money

The economic costs of global warming are doubling every decade and the insurance industry puts the financial cost due to climate change at hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Just one example - the total cost to the global economy of losing half the world's coral reefs has been estimated at $140 billion.

>> What are the impacts of climate change - on furry, fluffy, green and scaly things?