Social security ‘will be swept away by climate change’

By 2060, social security systems may not be able to cope with the natural disasters and emergencies caused by climate change, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) has warned.

Writing in the ISSA’s recent Social Security and Megatrends report, Dr Aled Jones of Anglia Ruskin University describes the apocalyptic impact that limited natural resources and climate change will have over the rest of the 21st century.

Positioning himself in the year 2100, Jones looks ‘back’ on a business-as-usual scenario whereby governments and businesses fail to transform the economy early enough to tackle climate change.

He writes: “When global resource limits became apparent, short-term political issues impacted on the availability of scarce resources. For example, embargoes on oil exports by some countries are put in place at different times throughout the century.”

“Global economic growth meant limited oil supplies became more of an immediate threat and another doubling of prices was seen over a very short period.”

Water stress

But Jones predicts that the plummeting fuel stores will be relatively insignificant compared to the planets changing water levels.

“Climate change led to another long-term drought in key global breadbaskets, combined with catastrophic flooding in others. This combination of local energy and food disruption led to a significant shock to national economies, lowering industrial output sharply.”

Jones’ predictions on financial impact match up with the recent IPCC Synthesis report – described as the most significant study on climate change ever carried out. Jones however goes one step further, outlining the potential toll on human life.

Mortality rates

“In the short-term, there was a small decline in mortality rates globally because of a reduction in cold winter deaths due to temperature increases from climate change,” he said

“However, towards the end of the century climate impacts were significantly impacting mortality rates everywhere. Extreme weather events were much more common and the treatment of mental health problems, in particular depression, became increasingly difficult to financially sustain. “

Social Security

The potential social security impacts are equally chilling as post-2060, social security budgets will be limited to servicing calamity and emergency loans to meet rehabilitation needs following major events.

Dr Jones predictions echo those of British Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, who told MP’s earlier this week that UK forces would eventually need to be deployed around the world to deal with the fallout of environmental disasters.

The ISSA report concludes that the challenges of consequences of climate change “do not appear to be widely understood”.

ISSA attributes this to the predominance of the free-market ideology which believes markets will naturally develop affordable alternative technologies at scale in an appropriate timeframe.

Regardless, without concentrated collective action, there is a risk of economic recession, reduced access to commodities and hence increased prices, reduced international and national security, increasing climate disruption and reductions to life expectancy with increases in mortality.

Brad Allen

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