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Impacts of Climate Change

Updated: Apr 30

This blog post is a repository of sources I use in teaching.

  • Summary: Business schools have much to contribute to the fight against climate change. They are experts in organizational transformation, performance measurement, operations, marketing, leadership, and governance. A group of eight business schools has come together to find ways in which business schools can collaborate to forge a community of responsible and educated business leaders.

PBS Terra Have We Made Any Progress on Climate Change?

  • RCP 8.5 has often been referred to as “business as usual.” It describes a world without action on climate policy and continued fossil fuel use expanding unchecked, leading to a truly apocalyptic future for our climate and everything living on our planet – including us. For this episode we wanted to see where we are in terms of “business as usual,” and if we are still headed towards an apocalypse of sorts… or if, perhaps, all of the technological innovations in renewables and EVs along with new climate policy such as the Paris Agreement might have bent down the curve on global warming. So tune into this episode of Weathered to see where we’ve been in our race against the clock, where we’re going, and how the RCP scenarios can help us understand this story as well as our future on this planet.

This is a good high-level overview which covers basic concepts of climate change

Environmental Impacts

  • The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today is comparable to where it was around 4.3 million years ago during the mid-Pliocene epoch, when sea level was about 75 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times and studies indicate offsite linklarge forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra.

  • As growing climate change impacts are experienced across the globe, the message that greenhouse gas emissions must fall is unambiguous. Yet the Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies finds that the international community is falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place. Only an urgent system-wide transformation can avoid climate disaster.

  • Also: Why Net Zero? Discusses the 2030 and 2050 goals.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment (2021)

  • The IPCC provides regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. Their 6th Assessment Report was published in three sections from August 2021 to March 2022. References are below. The reports themselves are pretty dense (😯) but climate scientist Dr. Ella Gilbert translates the report into something easier to follow (if no easier to accept). You'll also find links to the reports, and related newspaper articles.

Physical Science of Climate Change (Working Group I)

Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Working Group II)

Mitigation (Working Group III)

Tipping Points

  • Evidence is mounting that these tipping points could be more likely than was thought, have high impacts and are interconnected across different biophysical systems, potentially committing the world to long-term irreversible changes. Here we summarize evidence on the threat of exceeding tipping points, identify knowledge gaps and suggest how these should be plugged. We explore the effects of such large-scale changes, how quickly they might unfold and whether we still have any control over them.

  • (Oakland University students can access for free, through the paywall.)

  • The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is losing mass and is Antarctica’s largest contributor to sea-level rise. This ice loss is driven by interactions with the Southern Ocean, particularly the Amundsen Sea region of the continental shelf seas. Enhanced basal melting of ice shelves, the floating extensions of the ice sheet, has reduced their buttressing and caused upstream glaciers to accelerate their flow towards the ocean. Continued trends in iceshelf melting have the potential to cause irreversible retreat of the WAIS glaciers which together contain enough ice to raise global mean sea-level by 5.3 meters.

  • (This Open Access article is available to all.)


  • Nationally, 1.9 million homes are projected to be literally underwater by the year 2100 if the oceans rise six feet (2 meters). Thirty-nine percent are valued in the top third of homes in their metros, representing the potential loss of $597 billion in high-end real estate. A third (32 percent) are in the bottom tier of home values in their metros, amounting to a potential $123 billion loss for low-income homeowners.

  • Note that the "irreversible retreat of the West Antarctic iceshelf" mentioned in the Nature article above indicates a sea level rise of 5.3 meters.

  • A new analysis by Australian and American researchers, using new and more detailed modeling of the oceans, predicts that the long-feared turn-off of the circulation will likely occur in the Southern Ocean, as billions of tons of ice melt on the land mass of Antarctica. And rather than being more than a century away, as models predict for the North Atlantic, it could happen within the next three decades.

PBS Terra on Tipping Points:

Societal and Economic Impacts

  • Geopolitical tensions are likely to grow as countries increasingly argue about how to accelerate the reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions that will be needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Countries will compete to control resources and dominate new technologies needed for the clean energy transition. The increasing physical effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate cross-border geopolitical flashpoints as states take steps to secure their interests.

  • When in doubt, use data! (And if you're not in doubt, you definitely need more data. 😁) This page provides many data points regarding Greenhouse Gasses. (OWID also provides data in demographics, health, energy, and others.) BTW - the last time that the Earth's atmosphere hit 500ppm, alligators swam in the Artic.

  • Hannah Ritchie, who writes for OWID, hosts her own blog at Sustainability by the Numbers.

  • "13 million Americans will be forced to move away from submerged coastlines. Add to that the people contending with wildfires and other risks, and the number of Americans who might move — though difficult to predict precisely — could easily be tens of millions larger. Even 13 million climate migrants would rank as the largest migration in North American history. The Great Migration — of six million Black Americans out of the South from 1916 to 1970 — transformed almost everything we know about America, from the fate of its labor movement to the shape of its cities to the sound of its music. What would it look like when twice that many people moved?"

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most authoritative scientific body on the topic, finds that keeping mean surface temperature increases to no more than 1.5 C is critical for avoiding the most devastating impacts of climate change. Doing so means cutting global GHG emissions by roughly 50% by 2030 (from 2010 levels) and reaching “net-zero” emissions—releasing no more carbon into the atmosphere than is removed—by 2050. Achieving net-zero carbon emission by 2050 would require a radical, top-to-bottom transformation of the global economic system, especially our energy, transportation, and agriculture practices.

  • "We focus on sustainability not because we’re environmentalists, but because we are capitalists and fiduciaries to our clients. That requires understanding how companies are adjusting their businesses for the massive changes the economy is undergoing. As part of that focus, we are asking companies to set short-, medium-, and long-term targets for greenhouse gas reductions. These targets, and the quality of plans to meet them, are critical to the long-term economic interests of your shareholders."

  • From the Marketplace radio program: "From a report by McKinsey Global Institute: "200 million jobs would be gained by the transition to net zero, yet 185 million jobs would be lost around the world — so more jobs created than are lost. That still produces dislocation and churning that is extremely disruptive."

  • NYT: GHG reductions over the past decade have reduced projections of temperature rise from 4°C to 3°, which is still enough for the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets to melt, leading to a 40-foot rise in sea levels by 2060. (Note the Deloitte article indicating that this would make 136 megacities, including financial centers in NYC, London, Singapore, Beijing uninhabitable.)

  • WSJ: There’s a lot of hype and confusion about carbon-free energy sources. Here’s a look at five of them: how much they produce, what they cost and what obstacles they face.

  • WSJ: Write-downs of power plants, auto factories and fossil-fuel reserves could cause big losses in transition to renewable energy. There is a good video in this article estimating the cost to reduce global warming at $131 Trillion.


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