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
  • heat waves
  • 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 freeze-thaw cycles are aggravating the risk of shoreline erosion and submersion in Québec’s coastal municipalities. Such threats pose a significant challenge, especially along the 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 frequent and intense heat waves both cause and exacerbate health problems. For example, they extend the allergenic pollen season, which can cause respiratory problems. Warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation also contribute to the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases This hyperlink will open in a new window. such as Lyme disease, that are carried by parasites, mosquitoes, ticks and other living organisms.

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

Growing numbers of extreme events, such as violent winds, coastal storms, and forest fires also threaten public safety. These weather events can result in injuries, raise the level of psychological distress and cause 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 the risk of disaster is high.

Biodiversity destruction and loss

Numerous plant and animal species disappear when human activities destroy their natural habitat. Now, the impact of climate change impacts threatens their survival even more. Humankind depends entirely This hyperlink will open in a new window. on nature and the smooth functioning of natural ecosystems. Nature provides air, water, and nutrients that are essential for human survival. Pollinators make agriculture possible. And so many economic and recreational activities hinge entirely on natural ecosystems. Damage to natural ecosystems threatens the quality of life and survival of the human race.

Climate change also facilitates the invasion of harmful alien species that proliferate and threaten the survival of indigenous ones.

A global perspective

The earth’s average temperature has risen significantly in recent years.The amounts of snow and ice are declining steadily This hyperlink will open in a new window., 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: May 19, 2023


Was the information on this page useful to you?
General notice

You have questions or require additional information?

Please contact Services Québec