Climate change impacts

Since the beginning of the industrial era, synthetic GHG emissions have risen steadily, which is altering the composition of the atmosphere, provoking rapid global warming, disrupting the climate, and leading to what is called climate change, which is throwing off balance all ecosystems and threatening the quality of life on earth.

Extreme weather events

One major impact of climate change is the significant increase in the number of extreme weather events and their intensity:

  • droughts
  • heatwaves
  • heavy rain
  • violent winds
  • drastic drops or rises in temperature (freeze-thaw)

Such weather events and natural catastrophes are multiplying and intensifying the world over as the climate crisis gains momentum. This has a detrimental impact on the economy, the environment, infrastructure, and the quality of life.

Economic risks

The climate affects in one way or another most economic activities. Certain sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and tourism are especially reliant on the proper functioning of nature. The manufacturing sector and the transportation, insurance, and energy production and transportation sectors are also directly affected by climate hazards.

Climate change, including extreme weather events that are intensifying and occurring more frequently, and their impact on supply chains pose a short-, medium-, and long-term threat to the vitality of most businesses. This can lead to lower revenues or indeed the discontinuance of business in some cases.

Agriculture is especially affected by climate change since it directly impacts the sector’s productivity. Indeed, extreme weather events and more unpredictable climatic conditions such as drought and freezing and the proliferation of noxious insects or plants are greatly complicating the work of agricultural producers. These numerous climate hazards can affect crop yields and farmers’ incomes.

Threats to infrastructure

Climate change is affecting infrastructure, including buildings. For example, freeze-thaw cycles, which are more frequent, are damaging roads. Permafrost thaw in Northern Québec is altering the stability of buildings, roads, and runways.

Heavy rains cause overflowing in sewer systems and tax drainage systems. Flood risks are also increasing, thereby damaging infrastructure and buildings. Furthermore, the growing intensity of precipitation is causing greater numbers of landslides.

Rising sea levels and reduced ice cover combined with more frequent storms and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles are aggravating the risk of erosion and the submersion of the shoreline in Québec’s coastal municipalities. Such threats pose a significant challenge, especially along the maritime shores of the St. Lawrence River.

Health and safety hazards

Climate change is increasing threats to the health and safety of individuals and communities.

More intense and more frequent heatwaves are causing health problems. For example, they prolong the pollen season that causes respiratory diseases. An increase has also been observed in vector-borne diseases This hyperlink will open in a new window. such as Lyme disease, which are caused by parasites, viruses, or bacteria transmitted by vectors.

The availability and quality of drinking water can also become a challenge in certain towns and villages because increasingly frequent periods of drought.

Growing numbers of extreme events, such as violent winds, coastal storms, and forest fires are also threatening public safety. Such weather events can cause injuries and severe damage to buildings and infrastructure.

Lastly, changing, unusual, or extreme climatic conditions and natural disasters also have adverse effects on physical and mental health. This is especially true of vulnerable individuals who live in areas where disaster risk is high.

Destruction and loss of biodiversity

Numerous plant and animal species are disappearing because human activities are destroying their natural habitat. Climate change impacts are now threatening their survival even more. Humankind depends entirely on nature and the smooth functioning of its ecosystems. Nature provides air, water, and nutrients that are essential for human survival. Insect pollinators make agriculture possible, not to mention all the economic and recreational activities that hinge entirely on natural ecosystems. Damage to natural ecosystems threatens the quality of life and human survival.

Climate change is also facilitating the arrival or establishment of noxious plant species that can threaten indigenous species. This is especially true of the proliferation of certain invasive alien species This hyperlink will open in a new window..

A global perspective

The earth’s average temperature has risen significantly in recent years. The amounts of snow and ice are declining steadily, and sea levels are rising. Glacial melt is accelerating thereby reducing the amount of water available in certain regions of the world. Permafrost thaw is threatening the stability of infrastructure in the Arctic.

The oceans are warming, their levels are rising, and they are acidifying. Such impacts are upsetting ecosystems, threatening the survival of several species, and threatening many products and services from which we benefit.

Disruptions of ecosystems stemming from drought, storms, wildland fires, and infestations of harmful species are increasingly frequent or intense in several parts of the world. Certain regions are becoming uninhabitable, which compels people to leave their living environments thereby increasing the number of climate refugees the world over. Successive crises and catastrophes can also give rise to conflicts and wars all over the world.

Last update: April 28, 2022

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