5 Surprising Climate Change Impacts
Updated: Jul 15
Climate change will impact every aspect of human, animal, plant, and microbial life. The crisis is multifaceted and extends far beyond the commonly understood effects of temperature rise, which are in almost all cases disastrous to life on this planet. In this article, we will look at some of the more surprising impacts of climate change that you probably didn’t know about.
1. Worsened hay fever
Research suggests that climate change will make springtime even worse for hay fever sufferers. There are three main reasons for this: rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, rising temperatures, and extended seasons.
An excess of atmospheric carbon dioxide bodes poorly for the planet as a whole; however, in the short term, plants thrive on it. In many plant species, carbon dioxide increases their growth and increases their pollen’s potency, and amount produced. Rising temperatures and an extended spring season have similar effects on plants. These factors extend the plants’ growing periods and increase the quantity fungal spores and blooms produced.
While not as catastrophic as many other impacts of climate change, the significant rise in pollen counts these effects produce will be a nightmare for the UK’s 13 million hay fever sufferers.
2. Less nutritious food
Thanks again to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, plants are growing more sugar but less protein, zinc, iron, calcium, and other vital vitamins and minerals. Research suggests that due to this, by 2050, 150 million people will be at risk of protein deficiency and 138 million people at risk of zinc deficiency. The areas where these effects will be most concentrated is in already poorer regions, including India and Bangladesh. It is also suggested that the increase in sugars will contribute to the already rising rates of obesity and heart disease seen across the world.
3. Bumpy air travel
A 2017 study found that human-caused climate change will impact air-turbulence, making your holidays go a little (or quite a lot) less smoothly. With increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, vertical wind shears at cruising altitudes are set to strengthen, increasing the instabilities that create turbulence. Instances of clear-air turbulence (turbulence not caused by clouds) were found to increase across the board, with severe cases expected to rise by 149% in an atmosphere with double the current carbon dioxide concentration.
4. Poor mental health
Evidence suggests that the effects of climate change will have multifaceted and significant psychological impacts on humanity. The poor metal health consequences resulting from an increase in natural disasters caused by climate change are obvious. However, research suggests that even the more gradual impacts of climate change will take a heavy toll on the population’s mental wellbeing. Some of the effects of these more gradual climate impacts include anxiety, depression, substance use, stress, fatalism, and a loss of personal and occupational identity.
5. Climate Gentrification
As rising sea levels and increasing temperatures encourage wealthy people to relocate from their sunny coastal homes to cooler and more highly elevated regions, they bring with them higher property prices and increased costs of living. This process of gentrification displaces the often already marginalised and lower-income residents.
Furthermore, as a result of the climate crisis, investments are increasingly being made to create infrastructure that is more resilient to the effects of climate change, including storms, flooding, sea-level rise, and erosion. There is also a rise in green infrastructure developments, designed to mitigate climate by creating green spaces in cities. As a consequence of these green investments, further gentrification and displacement will occur.