When Newton exclaimed ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, it made sense in the world of Physics. Today, years after Newton quoted this or rather proved it, it turns out to be true for the biosphere in general- All Human Reactions Have an Equal and Opposite Reaction. When we dropped the first bomb, when we burst the first cracker, when we burned the first garbage dump, the first plastic bottle someone threw into the ocean, the first bottle you threw out of the car window; it will all come back. No lunch ever came free, we all have to pay for whatever we have taken with an interest payment none of us might be able to afford because it might demand our life. The ‘reaction’ might take time but it will surely happen.
The world is changing, in a more bad way than good. This change might lead to the extinction of mankind because this time it is our climate, our environment which is changing. If you look at it the interesting thing about the environment is its ability to impact all the spheres of life, be it political, economic or social. This piece focuses on the impact of the ‘Global Climate Change on the Economy’.
Going by definition, NASA defines ‘Climate change’ as the small variation in the earth’s temperature due to the increased amount of absorption of solar energy. However, what we observe today is not just a variation in the temperature of the earth, but a variation in climate patterns. Delhi had never seen ‘snow’ like it did the past year. The primary cause of this unusual activity is the human activity which has led to an increase in the number of greenhouse gases. The important yet dangerous bit, however, is that the damage caused is 10 times the age of recovery.
Scientist estimate that a 2°C increase in global temperatures would cause global GDP to fall by 15%, a 3°C increase would cause global GDP to fall by 25% which shockingly is the equivalent of the global GDP fall during the great depression; only this time the fall would be permanent.
Climate change primarily affects the base of the economy- Agriculture, Fishery, and Forestry. What is rather strange is how something as physical as climate change is related to economics. Increase in the earth’s surface temperature causes an increase in growing season, which is in fact a good thing because it will lead to an increase in yield however, as mentioned above ‘no lunch ever came free’ this increase in temperature would also increase the breeding cycles of insects and pests, thus, nullifying the effect of the increase in growing season. Moreover it is predicted that this would most definitely cause a crop failure impacting the agricultural sector most drastically. Apart from this, climate change causes a change in precipitation patterns which in turn affects agriculture and subsidiary industries dependent on it.
Coming to the oceans, climate change causes the ocean’s surface temperature to increase affecting marine life and hence the fishery industry as it alters metabolism and lifestyle. An increase in temperature also means that the melting of ice sheets and glaciers increasing the ocean and sea level, causing widespread floods and damage in the low lying areas of the world. This has forced approximately 22.5 million people to migrate to other places which increases the economic burden on the working class of these nations. It puts intense pressure on the countries whose land is destroyed and increases population density. This is one of the causes of migration of the Mexican population to the United States. The change in climate also results in oceanic acidification which destroys marine and aquatic life by causing coral bleaching, a tourist attraction. Thus, it most definitely harms economies dependent on tourism. Climate change has moreover caused an increase in the number of natural disasters which have claimed 23 million worker lives.
The causes for this damage are innumerable the list goes longer than the one stated above, but the impact is the important bit because it is huge in terms of both quantity and quality of impact.
Agriculture, fishery, and forest, which form the primary sector or the base of the economy, are the industries hardest hit by climate change. Although these industries are small, they form a base for all other industries and thus, an impact on these can affect what can be called the ‘Trickle-down Impact’ of Global Climate Change on the industrial sector. These industries employ a larger proportion of the population in developing countries such as India. Since, these countries are dependent on agriculture a fall of these industries affect employment, livelihood and increase poverty. At this point, it would be safe to say if not anything else, we are driving our own selves back to the pre-industrialisation era.
We have brought this on ourselves and are to be held responsible for whatever happens henceforth. We will all have to face the wrath of nature because the cracker ‘we’ burst took away someone else’s oxygen, the war ‘we’ fought destroyed someone else’s land, the cold water bottle ‘we’ took out of the refrigerator destroyed the ozone over someone else’s head.
Our greatest resource, every corporate’s greatest resource is nature and the environment because it supports all other life forms on earth and acts as a backbone to all the industries. We have come to see this day because we assumed whatever we had was in abundance, which because nature supports us it shall continue to do so without fail. We need to understand that nature is our greatest asset. We have entered the time period called ‘too late’, now it is too late and we need to start acting before economies start collapsing and with it our lives.
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Currently in her second year of Economics Honours from Shri Ram College of Commerce, she is a Punjab-Delhi express that demands to be recongnised. She is an enthusiastic soul looking for happiness in small things while trying to make it big in life. From books to humans she has opinions on all, a curious soul who never gets tired of learning.