The Impacts and Costs of Climate Change Page: 9
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The Impacts and Costs of Climate Change
* The estimated proportional changes in the numbers of people killed or injured in coastal floods
are large, although they refer to low absolute burdens. Impacts of inland floods are predicted to
increase by a similar proportion, and would generally cause a greater acute rise in disease burden.
These proportional changes are much higher in developing countries.
At a global level, the rising temperatures will put many additional people at risk of suffering from
diseases like Malaria, dengue and schistosomiasis. For instance it is projected that a 20C increase will
result in 210 million people more at risk of malaria and an epidemic potential rise of 30-50% for
Climate variability is often a cause of health impacts and extreme weather events are likely to
increase with carbon dioxide concentrations. Recent research indicates that much of the occurrence
of climate related disease outbreak is caused by specific weather events, in combination with non-
climate factors. More analysis is needed from the new climate models, though in some cases the
relationship between climate and disease is clear e.g. diarrhea incidence in Peru increases by about
8% per degree C temperature rise (Stabilisation 2005).
Parts of Europe, particularly mid and northern Europe, are expected to have potential benefits to
agriculture from increasing CO2 concentrations and rising temperatures. The cultivated area could be
expanded northwards, and growing seasons extended (EEA 2004). This will lead to increased crop
yields (provided there is sufficient water supply). In southern parts of Europe, over the longer term,
agriculture may be threatened by climate change due to increased water stress, with reduced yields in
hotter and dryer areas. During the heat wave in 2003, many southern European countries suffered
drops in yield of up to 30%, while some northern European countries profited from higher
temperatures and lower rainfall. Bad harvests could become more common due to an increase in the
frequency of extreme weather events (droughts, floods, storms, hail). There is also the possibility that
any direct yield gain could be partly off-set by losses due to changes in the spatial distribution and
intensity of pests and diseases.
Global projections18 estimate EU (and US) yield increases for up to 20C temperature rise, but beyond
this yield declines. But in subtropics/tropics damages from increased heat stress are already projected
for 1.70C temperature increase. Higher average temperatures of 2.50C in 2080 could result in 50
million additional people at risk of hunger.
The IIASA/FAO assessment of agriculture over the next century (Fischer et al. 2001) concluded that
developing countries are net losers from the effects of global warming on agricultural production.
Accounting for land suitability, population growth and other factors and a climate change scenario that
brings around a 30C warming in the 2080s, developing countries as a group suffer production losses. A
large group of about 40 developing countries with a current population of 2 billion people, including
around 450 million undernourished inhabitants, is projected to lose substantially, whilst about half of
developing countries gain. Details of the projections for the group of developing countries
experiencing malnourishment problems are found below. The 78 countries presently at some level of
risk are divided into three groups, based on the proportion of undernourished people in each country.
18 Sources: Parry 1999, Hare 2003, IPCC TAR
AEA Technology Environment, August 2005
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Watkiss, Paul; Downing, Tom; Handley, Claire & Butterfield, Ruth. The Impacts and Costs of Climate Change, text, September 2005; Oxford, England. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29337/m1/20/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .