Impacts of Climate Change
This blog post is a repository of sources I use in teaching.
HBR: Business Schools Must Do More to Address the Climate Crisis
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.
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
NOAA: GHGs Continued to Increase Rapidly in 2022
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.
UN: Emissions Gap Report 2022 (unep.org)
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)
AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis (The full report)
NYT: A Hotter Future Is Certain, Climate Panel Warns. But How Hot Is Up to Us. Humanity can prevent the planet from getting even hotter but doing so would require a coordinated effort among countries to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere... entailing a rapid shift away from fossil fuels starting immediately, as well as potentially removing vast amounts of carbon from the air.
Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Working Group II)
AR6 Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability The full report.
NYT: Climate Change is Harming the Planet Faster than we can adapt The dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced
Mitigation (Working Group III)
AR6 Climate Change: Mitigation (The full report)
NYT: Stopping Climate Change is Doable, but Time is Short Unless countries drastically accelerate efforts over the next few years to slash their emissions from coal, oil and natural gas, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will likely be out of reach by the end of this decade.
Nature: Climate 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.
Yale 360: New Research Sparks Concerns That Ocean Circulation Will Collapse
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 the topic:
Societal and Economic Impacts
US National Intelligence Estimate of Impacts of Climate Change:
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.
Our World in Data: CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
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.
How Climate Migration Will Reshape America - The New York Times
"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?"
Economic impacts of climate change | Deloitte Insights
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.
The UN Principles in Responsible Investing
Includes 5000+ institutional investors, holding $121 Trillion in assets under management. The key principle is to incorporate ESG analysis into investment decisions.
Larry Fink's Annual 2022 Letter to CEOs | BlackRock
"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."
What would it take to reach net-zero global emissions by 2050? -
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."
Yes, There Has Been Progress on Climate. No, It’s Not Nearly Enough.
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.)
How Far Have We Really Gotten With Alternative Energy?
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.
Trillions in Assets May Be Left Stranded as Companies Address Climate Change
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.