Climate change isn't just about keeping the next wave of hurricanes at bay. It's about social justice and economic empowerment. Here are ten issues you didn't know were linked to climate change.
1) The Economy. Hot days hurt productivity by slowing down workers and damaging crops. According to a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the warmest days, those over 86°F, rob local economies of more than $20 per person. With rising temperatures set to bruise productivity, it might be time to rethink the nearly $4.8 billion taxpayers give to the oil industry in subsidies.
2) Agriculture. If we continue along our current path, corn, soy, wheat and cotton production could decline by 14 percent by 2050 and up to 42 percent by 2100. That's bad news. As Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer at General Mills, said "At the highest level, mother nature has got to continue to do well for us to do well."
3) Real Estate. Rising oceans could submerge up to $106 billion worth of coastal property by mid-century and up to $507 billion worth of coastal property by 2100. That means increasing insurance costs and declining home values in many regions.
4) Social Justice. While one out of ten American children have asthma, among Black children, that number is closer to one out of six. Why? People of color are more likely to live near busy highways and polluting factories. Lacking political or economic power, they have been thrust to the front lines of the climate crises.
5) National Security. Likes his colleagues, Brigadier General Steven Anderson, a self-described "conservative Republican," believes "climate change and the instability that that all drives... increases the likelihood there will be conflicts in which American soldiers are going to have to fight and die somewhere." Anderson is just one of many military experts thinking hard about climate change.
6) Gender Equality. Women comprise a majority of the world's small-scale farmers, making them targets for drought, flooding and crop failure threatened by climate change. The good news is that breaking down barriers keeping women out of STEM fields will help us to assemble the engineering power we need to take on climate change. As President Obama has said, "We do better when we field a full team."
7) Human Rights. According to Robert Pearshouse, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, “Climate change will affect many of the most vulnerable in society. It will affect the poor; it will affect religious or ethnic minorities; it will affect women and children. That should say a lot to a human rights organization. It’s going to be the most marginalized who feel those impacts most acutely." The United Nations has been eager to take on the problem.
8) Public Health. Climate change poses enormous risks to public health: dehydration and stroke during heat waves, chronic asthma and lung disease as a result of pollution, worsening allergies thanks to shortened winters and reductions in the availability of food, water and medical care during extreme storms.
9) Immigration. As climate change renders certain parts of the world uninhabitable, we can expect mass migration around the globe. That may necessitate opening borders to provide those in danger with a path to safety. Facing crop failure, as many as seven million Mexicans could be forced to emigrate to the United States between now and 2080.
10) Sports. Yes, sports. Climate change has already hurt outdoor sports in Australia. The 2014 Australian Open saw a drop of 12,000 to 15,000 spectators a day on account of the unbearable heat. Winter sports are also hurting. Of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, scientists expect only six will be able to hold the Games by 2090.