How supply chain effects the environment

By Muriel Baki

As Rider students and faculty return to campus and the leaves begin to change, many Broncs look forward to cooler fall temperatures and a break from the summer heat. The summer of 2022 has broken records around the world, which points to the alarming and increasing impact of climate change. Monsoons and floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme temperatures were recorded around the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Centers for Environmental Information. 

Senior elementary education major Maya Rossi said, “This summer you could tell the weather was not normal. I worked at a summer camp, and there were days we couldn’t take the kids outside because of the heat advisory.” 

Heat advisories were frequently issued this past summer, especially in July, which was recorded as the third hottest July on record since preindustrial temperatures in the 1800s.  According to NOAA.gov, the global year to date temperature is currently the sixth highest on record, the highest of which have all occurred since 2015. 

Not only are these statistics staggering, they also indicate that the occurrence rate of climate-related disasters will continue to rise. These events have impact no matter where they occur and have already begun to impact our global supply chain. The global supply chain is the worldwide system that businesses use to produce products or services, and we are already experiencing climate-related interruptions. 

This July, an intense drought in southwestern China forced many factories to shut down for almost a month, freezing the supply chain for automobiles and electronics, causing delays and spikes in prices for companies around the world. 

Chriag Surti, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of information systems, analytics, and supply chain management at Rider said, “In my opinion, the current challenges including natural disasters, wars, unrest and degradation of the environment will increase the scarcity of key and essential commodities and products made from those commodities. These tend to be sourced globally and do not always have local alternatives. This scarcity will result in shortages and higher costs and hit the finances of those who can least afford it. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine made it clear what such a disruption can do to our economy.” 

Taking this into account, it is clear that the impact of the drought in China may be setting the precedent for climate-related price spikes and production delays. While a global supply chain is not typically considered a sustainable system in the long term due to its reliance on non-renewable resources for transportation of goods and materials, the short term effects of supply chain interruptions could be dangerous for individuals around the world who depend on them. Sophomore health sciences major Emily Pearson stated, “[Supply chain interruptions] are honestly very scary, especially in the healthcare field. People felt it when there were baby formula shortages, but it could only get worse if hospitals can’t get the supplies they need.” Indeed, critical supplies such as baby formula and personal care items like tampons have already been missing from store shelves due to interruptions in global supply structure.

Experts are working to stabilize the system, but because natural disasters like fires, droughts and hurricanes affect so many types of production, including sustainable systems like wind energy and hydroelectric power, it is difficult to design systems that will be unaffected by increasingly common weather catastrophes. In a system so large and complex, it can be easy to feel like there is nothing to do, but shopping locally can make a bigger impact than one may imagine. Rider is in a wonderful location for fresh, local produce, and fall is the perfect season to get excited about fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. By shopping for what is in-season locally, Broncs can reduce their carbon footprint and support local agriculture, all while escaping the frustration of climate-related interruptions to our global supply chain. 

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