Social Impacts of Climate Change

As explained in our Climate Change 2013 article, climate change is affecting people today. Along with sea-level rise, the issue of drought is ever-present and impacting Micronesia now. This current problem is not a regional one. It is, or will be, affecting all of Oceania.  

(photo courtesy of Yu Suenaga)

In a recent report by Eco-Business, they quote climate scientist Dr. Jim Salinger of Auckland University:

“All tropical islands in the Pacific are likely to regularly experience heat waves of unprecedented magnitude and duration. Extreme heat waves in recent years have had severe impacts, causing heat-related deaths, forest fires and harvest losses.”

It is also important to note the social impacts of recent droughts.

On a recent interview conducted by Radio New Zealand International, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, from the Marshall Islands explained how the recent drought has been especially harmful for women. The drought posed a threat to their livelihood. The making and selling of traditional handicrafts depends on the health of "crops". Without an adequate supply of "crops", they are unable to practice their culture and they can't support their families from the money they usually make selling handicrafts.

She expressed other social issues within the household:

"Well, because the stress level is already here and now new issues factor in, as well, so for several of the women I know, because their role in the household is defined by what they do such as their chores, and when they were not able to do this because of lack of water it caused identity issues. So, for example, in my neighbourhood there was a lot of cases of substance and violence because most often women and men believe that if women are not able to do these chores in the households then the men have the right to discipline them. There was an increase in the disease because of the warmer temperatures, there was a peak in the reported cases of diarrhoea and dehydration. So this then fell on the mother’s responsibility as a caretaker and also caused issues with relationships, as well."


1. Eco-Business. "More Frequent Droughts as Climate Change Hits Pacific".
2. Radio New Zealand International. "Marshall Islands Women Bear Climate Change Burden".