How can we deal with the impact of climate change on life on Earth?

Applied research

This challenge calls for a solution and it is aimed at attempting to solve a problem.


The climate is changing, the atmosphere is warming.
While we might know general causes of climate change, there is still uncertainty about what we can expect in the future for life on this earth. More specifically, what are the implications, and crises directly related to the climate changing and how can human kind effectively deal with them, or adapt to the new situation?

Climate change is an extremely complex phenomenon which effects every region of the world currently, and which has varying effects in these regions. We are facing new challenges for survival because of this changing climate. More frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans can directly harm us, harm animals, destroy harvests and life stock, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people’s livelihoods and communities. Think of the floods last year in the region of Limburg, Germany and Belgium, with whole towns being carried off by the water. Think of the recurring forest fires in Australia, USA and Europe even.

We do not know specifically what the tipping points are in the climate system and when they will occur. Our current projections concerning regional climate change are also inaccurate. Increasingly, extreme precipitation, storms, and drought are attributed to worldwide climate change, turning it into a very tangible but hard-to-predict safety risk. Extreme weather often has a huge impact on everyday reality, stressing the need to tackle this subject in a manner that focuses on the societal and psychological dimension as well. As a result, this topic requires a holistic approach, which combines several different disciplines. We can no longer focus on just combatting climate change, we need to see what we can do to ensure live on earth is possible dealing with the impacts of climate change.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts are beneficial in trying to understand the roots and causes of diverse crises related to climate change and to develop innovative approaches and innovative solutions. Amongst others, innovative approaches might need to concern flood safety, coastal defenses, building with nature, reliable drinking water supply, and agricultural optimization. But we might also need to look into climate migration and refugees.

Climate change requires more research on the changes in the environment, as extreme events and crises related to climate change are dramatically impacting societies on earth.

The main goal of this challenge is to investigate what the impact will be of climate change on living on earth, and how we can deal with climate change related crises at best.

Perspectives and possible directions

Warmer temperatures, sea level rise and extreme weather will damage property and critical infrastructure, impact human health and productivity, and negatively affect sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism.
Climate change is already impacting human health. Changes in weather and climate patterns can put lives at risk. Heat is one of the most deadly weather phenomena. As ocean temperatures rise, hurricanes are getting stronger and wetter, which can cause direct and indirect deaths. Dry conditions lead to more wildfires, which bring many health risks. Higher incidences of flooding can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases, injuries, and chemical hazards. As geographic ranges of mosquitoes and ticks expand, they can carry diseases to new locations.

The impacts of climate change on different sectors of society are interrelated. Drought can harm food production and human health. Flooding can lead to disease spread and damages to ecosystems and infrastructure. Human health issues can increase mortality, impact food availability, and limit worker productivity.

Climate change impacts are seen throughout every aspect of the world we live in. However, climate change impacts are uneven across the country and the world — even within a single community, climate change impacts can differ between neighborhoods or individuals. Long-standing socioeconomic inequities can make underserved groups, who often have the highest exposure to hazards and the fewest resources to respond, more vulnerable.

Insightful questions that could be answered when looking at this specific challenge could be focused on how we can prepare cities and their infrastructure for the consequences of climate change. Extreme weather events that bring heavy rains, floods, wind, snow, or temperature changes can stress existing structures and facilities. Increased temperatures require more indoor cooling for example, which can put stress on an energy grid. Sudden heavy rainfall can lead to flooding that shuts down highways and major business areas.

Many communities are not yet prepared to face climate-related threats, and resilience-education therefore is vital. Even within a community, some groups are more vulnerable to these threats than others. Going forward, it is important for communities to invest in resilient infrastructure that will be able to withstand future climate risks.

more information: