Posted January 24, 2013 by

How Climate Change Effects the Job Market

John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas

John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas

This week, Cargill Beef announced that it will be shuttering one of its Texas plants as a prolonged drought in the state thins cattle herds to their lowest levels in 60 years. The closure will force the plant’s 2,000 workers to relocate to one of the company’s other plants or find employment elsewhere.

This is not the first time climate change has impacted jobs and it will not be the last, according to workplace authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Challenger forecasts that the impact of climate change on the economy and employment will only increase in the years to come. “Agriculture could be the biggest victim of changing weather patterns brought on by climate change. We are no longer an agriculture-based economy, but the sector still employs between 150,000 and 250,000 workers, depending on the time of year. The other area that could feel pain related to climate change is tourism. Ski resorts in Colorado are already seeing the effects of less snowfall. Not only are skiers seeking deeper powder further north, but the resorts are spending a lot more making artificial snow.”

Not all of the fallout from climate change is negative. “In some areas, climate change could lead to more jobs. In Chicago, for example, where we have had less than two inches of snow this entire winter, construction workers and road workers have been able to continue working without weather-related stoppages. And, while it is difficult to imagine any silver linings in the aftermath of the increasing number super storms and hurricanes, such as the one that ravaged the east coast in October, there does tend to be increased economic activity and job creation in the areas impacted as cities and states clean up and rebuild.”

The biggest and most positive impact on employment, Challenger hopes, will come from initiatives to address and reverse climate change, such as the development of new renewable energy sources and the manufacture of more energy-efficient transportation.

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