A3.7.2 Impacts of Climate Change


Why should we care if the climate changes? Well, the impacts are more serious and wide-ranging than you might expect. The impacts in the UK include:

  • More frequent heat waves.
  • Hotter summers.
  • Drier summers.
  • Fewer Frosts.
  • Wetter winters.
  • Rising sea level.
  • An increase in extreme weather events, such as storms and floods.
  • Changes to biodiversity.


The increased heat puts vulnerable people at risk of heat stroke. There is also an increased risk of heat stress on structures (including roads).

The drier summers will increase the frequency of drought, as well as increase the number of areas affected by it. Globally this will have a massive impact on areas where water is already scarce.

The wetter winters will result in an increase of flooding, which will limit agricultural productivity in flooded areas. There will be an increased risk of landslides, power failures and damage to both the built and natural environment.

According to the BBC News in 1998, 46 million people live in areas at risk of flooding. This amount could increase rapidly if sea levels rose. Scientists estimate that a sea rise of only 50 centimetres would increase the number of people at risk to 92 million. A sea level rise of 1 metre would put 118 million people at risk. Scientists believe that there will be a sea level rise of 50 centimetres over the next 40 to 100 years.

Biodiversity will be affected through habitat reduction and inhospitable living conditions for certain species. If global temperatures rise by two degrees Celsius, 30% of all land-living species will be threatened by an increased risk of extinction.

Pests will survive through winters, which may affect crops. The warmer weather in the UK may also mean that we experience disease carrying pests currently only found in warmer countries (e.g. ticks and mosquitoes). Globally it is predicted that 290 million additional people could be exposed to malaria by the 2080s.

Glaciers will shrink, which will cause rising sea levels and significantly affect species that rely on them (such as polar bears). Globally extreme weather events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity, including hurricanes and tropical storms.