7 Ways You May Lose Money Because of Climate Change

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Climate March Sign
Climate March, Takoma Park, Maryland, April 2017. Photo: Edward Kimmel.

Climate change is no longer something we need to worry about for the future. It’s already here and it’s already costing us money, not to mention the lives of other species with whom we share our planet. Here are ways that you could lose money as a result of climate change – or may be losing money already.

According GoBankingRates, 45 U.S. states will experience a loss in GDP as a result of climate change, especially those in the South and the lower Midwest.

But how will this affect your personal bottom line? Here are a few ways:

1. You could pay more for food.

A young man in drought conditions in Ethiopia.
A young man in drought conditions in Ethiopia. Photo: USAID Africa Bureau.

According to scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and as reported in The Guardian, changes in temperature and rainfall patterns might lead to food price increases of 3 to 84 percent by 2050. And crop yields around the world could drop by 25 percent from 2039 to 2049. Even in the U.S., where we have ready access to a variety of foods, a shrinking global food supply could drive up prices here.

When I hear stats like this, it makes me even more concerned about Big Ag dumping more genetically modified, pesticide-ridden seeds and poisons into the soil to try to boost crop yields. Keep buying organic and supporting organic farmers!

 

2. You could pay more for water.

Colorado River, Page, Arizona.
The Colorado River, Page, Arizona. Photo: Adrille.

Just as it’s already impacting our food supply, including with the catastrophic impacts on pollinating insects, climate change is impacting our water supply.

According to Paul Dickinson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit that works with corporations and municipalities to disclose the environmental impacts of their operations, “Much of the impact of climate change will be felt through changing patterns of water availability, with shrinking glaciers and changing patterns of precipitation, increasing the likelihood of drought and flood.”

Droughts are among the most expensive weather-related disasters in the world as they impact ecosystems, agriculture, and human society, says NASA climate scientist Dr. Benjamin Cook in an article for CarbonBrief.org. And regions “as diverse as California, the Eastern Mediterranean, East Africa, South Africa, and Australia have all experienced severe – and, in some cases, unprecedented – droughts in recent years.”

We cannot view water as an unlimited resource. We need to view it as precious and do what we can to protect our water supplies, including from contamination and run-off from factory farms. Growing crops to feed livestock consumes 56% of the fresh water in the U.S. So, people who eat a vegan diet save 1,100 gallons of fresh water per day. In addition, animal agriculture is one of the biggest sources of water pollution in the U.S.

 

3. Your income could drop.

ATM Machine
Photo: Alex Shorter.

The average person should expect to lose a quarter of their income as a result of climate change by 2100, say researchers at UC Berkeley. For millennials and people with children, this is an especially serious concern. Millennials are expected to collectively lose $8.8 trillion in potential lifetime income due to climate change.

 

4. You could pay even more for healthcare.

Doctor's visit
Photo: Fort Rucker.

Just like those of animals and insects, our human bodies have not had time to adapt to the environmental changes resulting from climate change. In essence, climate change is the result of technical advances happening at warp speed, and the Earth’s natural systems, including our bodies, have not had time to adapt.

According to CNN, higher temperatures will cause more heat stroke and even increased deaths, notably in places like the Midwest. There will also be in increase in mosquito and tickborne diseases, like Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya, as well as more cases of West Nile virus.

Furthermore, pollution and other changes in the air will cause asthma and allergies to become worse.

In addition, we’ll have more exposure to foodborne and waterborne diseases as microorganisms thrive in warmer temperatures.

 

5. You could pay more for energy.

Even though you might pay less for heat in winter due to global warming, demand for more electricity to run air conditioners is expected to outweigh those savings. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average American should expect an increase in energy costs of 10 to 22 percent.

However, there is hope in the form of renewables. An article in Forbes says the cost of renewables is expected to be lower than fossil fuels by 2020. (We know renewables are already our saving grace when it comes to fighting climate change!)

 

6. You could pay more for property insurance.

Fire Destruction
Photo: U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Since 1980, the frequency of weather-related events that cost $1 billion or more in damages has grown dramatically. Today, those costs have reached a total of $1.1 trillion, according to a story in Yahoo! Finance.

Besides being directly affected by natural disasters by losing loved ones, pets, and homes, many people are already experiencing an increase in their insurance premiums. The recent deadly and disastrous fires in both Northern and Southern California have caused homeowners’ insurance premiums to skyrocket (L.A. Times).

 

7. You could see an increase in taxes.

Texas Army National Guard Hurricane Harvey Response
The Texas Army National Guard responds to Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, 2017. Photo: 1st Lt. Zachary West.

As natural disasters become more expensive, someone has to pay for the damages. While I expect there will be a lot of law suits against the culprits (get ready, fossil fuel companies), in all likelihood, our tax dollars will be used to foot much of the bill.

According to U.S. News, extreme weather “plays havoc on the nation’s transportation infrastructure. High heat can bend railways, soften asphalt, and expand steel in bridges and other structures.” In addition, flooding impacts roadbeds and bridge supports. So, we should expect to invest in a lot of new infrastructure and repairs.

Climate change will negatively impact so many areas of our lives, from the cost of food, to healthcare, to insurance, you can see how we have to take action on multiple levels right now. But even though this is depressing to consider, I’m a firm believer in the innovative tenacity of the human spirit. It’s just a matter of taking massive action instead of passively sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing. I’ll share more information on what you can do personally to fight climate change soon.

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