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Wildfires that burn hotter for longer and larger hurricanes that linger over land — these are results of climate change supply chains are already contending with. A report released last week by the Trump administration stated that the U.S. economy will shrink by 10% due to climate change by 2100, putting what feels like a slow-moving problem in sharper relief and bringing to light the more tangible and predictable challenges to come.
The fourth National Climate Assessment, compiled by climate scientists and 13 federal agencies is expansive, but for most supply chains, the top line takeaway is that climate change will add more volatility to operations. This may not seem like news since we can already see volatility in the form of more storms, floods and fires. But volatility isn’t the end of the story.
The report presents the threat in the context of fixed assets on which supply chains depend. It paints a picture of a future that is not simply more volatile with more extreme and more frequent weather events — but where some changes will be permanent and ongoing.
And when it comes to infrastructure, though the problem of climate change may seem intractable and difficult to avoid, in the context of a mere 70-year timeline there are actions supply chains can take today to minimize interruptions — and that starts with a deep understanding of the problems that supply chains are likely to face in the not-so-distant future.