Climate change is causing issues within society. Two speakers, Alex Alvarez and Eric Souders, held a climate change panel at the Social and Behavioral Sciences building highlighting these issues. The two charted certain problems, direct and indirect consequences of climate change, explaining how one might combat the issue and the role society has within it.
Alvarez, a criminologist professor, talked about how human nature might escalate events in tandem with growing variables that contribute to changes in the environment. He started with a brief introduction into history of civilizations who have continuously dealt with the climate.
Alvarez also cited Mayan, Chinese and Anasazi problems with religious superstitions, droughts and floods, each affecting the population in different ways. According to Alvarez, the main point of his introduction details a distant but practical future.
As a teacher of human behaviors, Alvarez talked about the rising tensions of current political climates involving immigration, coupling that with the concept of internally displaced populations (IDP). As climates change for the worse, rendering some places unlivable due to the depletion of valuable resources, refugees will skyrocket, Alvarez said.
According to Alvarez, variables that seem to worsen climate change include failing government action to correct course, competition over land and water and the prejudices that fall on IDPs. One of his examples was the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia’s claim over the Nile river.
Alvarez said Ethiopia is currently building a dam that could control the water that a majority of Egypt’s 97 million people rely on. Ethiopia is currently building Africa's largest dam on the Blue Nile River, a tributary that feeds roughly 85% of the Nile's water. This would put Ethiopia in control of how much water flows downstream to the millions who rely on the water.
The power of holding such a precious resource could be, according to Alvarez, a contention point, over which one of the first water wars could be held.
While Alvarez took on a more subjective approach to possible effects of climate change on humans, the second speaker, Eric Souders, put a price tag on human suffering.
Souders, an independent adviser of Ascendent Financial Solutions, brought numbers to support his side of the story. Disaster relief funds and insurance range in the billions, leaving millions homeless globally, many out of work and ranging costs to keep a city productive. According to Souders' powerpoint slides, Hurricane Florence cost the United States $24 billion alone.
“Have you ever heard of hail causing billions of dollars of damage?" Souders said. "It happened twice in Texas.”
According to Souders, there are costs that are applied to humans as well like carbon footprints. Manmade climate change can impact air quality, cause illnesses, death and economic loss. Temperature increase, like 2018 being the fourth hottest year on record, and heat stress is a particular problem that affects the way in which we perform labor.
"Productivity starts to fall at 79 degrees Fahrenheit and then collapses at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. More heat means more stress. The U.S. is on target for about $500 billion a year in lost productivity, lost damages in climate change effects by 2100. That accounts for about 3% a year in growth," Souder said.
These numbers are compiled when combining variables that impact health, productivity and economic growth. Souder said that a free market is key to a sustainable future.
"Our job as a market, is to make sure where we are spending our money, that we're making choices about how and what we buy, and where that comes from,” Souder said. “That sends a signal to the market, the market then responds."