After the attention-seeking Climate Summit of the United Nations a short time ago, the topic of climate change ascended to a higher level in the world’s agenda. Climate change is on the agenda of certain NGOs -such as Climate Action Network and Greenpeace- that adopted the mitigating of this change as their main goal; however, the issue might drop down in the priority lists of private and public sectors from time to time. Though there are several reasons of this situation, the idea that climate change will only show its effects in specific areas and in the long run, the lack of proper understanding about what these effects are going to trigger are the outstanding factors. There is a good chance of some institutions believing that their operations are outside of the scope of effects of climate change. However, as opposed to the common perception, the results of climate change have the potential to spill over to different sectors and threaten not only the everyday life but also the business and public sector activities.
It is important to comprehend the areas of impact and scope of the effect of climate change for making the precautions more serious and as it will be a push factor to take actions.
To begin with, disengaging with the presumption that the climate change is all about increasing temperatures is a must. Because one of the most important consequences the climate change will create is the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme natural hazards. In this condition, it is a very likely possibility that insurance premiums will jump, and the insurance costs will be challenging -and even impossible- to finance for many people. For this reason, even though it is not a sector that comes into mind immediately, insurance is one of the sectors that is expected to be challenged the most by the negative consequences of climate change.
Even though not as overlooked as insurance, energy is another sector that will be affected severely in the context of climate change and its consequences. The need for additional heating as well as the increasing demand for cooling systems due to the changes in temperature caused by the climate change indicate that there will be a rapid increase in the energy demand. Energy sector, in which the demand is in an increasing trend with the economic growth and rising comfort standards, experiences troubles due to the climate change in the supply side as well. The risks such as the necessity to drain the water that rapidly gathered due to heavy downfall in hydroelectric plants from the spillways without generating energy, falling of water level down to the critical altitude in hydroelectric plants due to droughts and consequently inability to generate energy, the wind turbines getting damaged caused by the extreme weather conditions, inability to meet the vast amount of cooling water demand by the thermal plants due to the changing precipitation regime are the first negative impacts that come to mind.
Another sector that is expected to face the effects of climate change fiercely is transportation. Rise in temperatures, which is one of the most salient outcomes of climate change, might hinder the highway transportation by softening of asphalt and the railway transportation by expanding the rails. Interruption of airway transportation due to the extreme downfalls expected in spring and winter is another possible outcome. In addition, the floods that are expected to increase in severity and frequency pose the risk of bridges to submerge and the connection constructions to face landslide.
The forefront effects of climate change for health sector are increasing heat and water-related issues. Extreme heat triggers the cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, increases the water-transmitted illnesses and enhances the speed of spread of contagious diseases. Water issue, on the other hand, is mostly apparent in the health sector with the decrease of the quality of drinking and sanitation water. It is known that the negative impacts of increasing viruses and bacteria in water on human health due to climate change are observable from the spreading disease, the sanitation problems come along with the scarcity and lowered quality of water that is used for hygiene.
Agriculture sector is concerned with food -which is about the main survival need of human- thus is deserved to be inspected more deeply. The increase in severity and frequency of extreme weather events, decrease in the quality and quantity of water resources and the rise in the average temperatures caused by the climate change pose serious risks for agriculture. While hazards such as droughts and flood cause destruction of agricultural products, increased heat lead to the lengthening of the maturing period and decrease the productivity. Also, the decrease in the irrigation water quality causes health problems.
In addition to the fact that the sectors that are mentioned in this article will face the effects of climate change more severely, many other sectors including tourism, manufacturing, construction, forestry, etc. are under serious risk. It is apparent that the climate change concerns everybody and an issue where there is no room for postponing precautions. The precondition for these precautions to be taken is the thorough comprehension of the effects of climate change.