Impacts on humans and the natural world

As Earth's climate warms, many species could face extinction. Others will have to move closer to the poles to stay in the temperatures they normally live in. These could include tropical insects that carry disease.

Find out about the possible effects of climate change and discover why it's important to take action now to limit the consequences.

  • A road across the Sahara desert.
    General effects

    Escalating climate change could have disastrous consequences for humans, including flooding, droughts, stronger storms, and the spread of tropical diseases.

  • A coral reef near the Seychelles
    Extinction of coral reefs

    Coral reefs are dying out faster than the rainforests are being cut down. Find out how corals have responded to past changes in their environment and what is happening to them today.

  • A model of the woolly mammoth found at Ilford, Essex, in England.
    Extinction of Arctic and Antarctic species

    What can the extinction of the woolly mammoths tell us about the future of polar bears and other species that live in polar regions?

  • A bee pollinating an ox-eye daisy
    Changing seasons

    Find out how climate change affects whole ecosystems by disrupting relationships between plants and the insects that pollinate them.

  • The Museum's wildlife garden in winter.
    Changing ocean currents

    Britain's winter climate could become much colder if the Gulf Stream stops flowing.  Find out how this could happen and what the consequences might be.

  • Giant mussel shells, Choromytilus chorus
    Ocean acidification

    Coral reefs, phytoplankton, shell fish and other marine creatures could all be affected by climate change, as carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans and increases levels of carbonic acid.

  • Sandflies can spread the disease leishmaniasis
    Will climate change bring more disease?

    Until recently, diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis and Lyme disease were considered exotic ailments.  But will they spread due to climate change?