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Women carry jerry cans of water from shallow wells dug from the sand along the Shabelle River bed in Somalia’s Shabelle region. Photo: Feisal Omar/Reuters
A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceshas suggested that climate change has worsened global inequality and has caused the most economic harm to nations who have done the least to contribute to climate change. Additionally, countries with the highest temperatures suffered the most economic damage. As CNN Business explained, “in absolute terms, many of those countries have actually boosted their economic output significantly over the past half century, and as a result, inequality between countries has declined in recent years. However, that progress could have moved faster if temperatures weren’t rising, the study found.” Noah S. Diffenbaugh, author of the study stated that while climate change didn’t cause inequality it “put a drag on improvement.”
David Waskow, director of the World Resources Institute’s International Climate Initiative told Inside Climate News that the “findings here really are very much in line with what we have been seeing on the ground in terms of the impacts that particularly vulnerable countries have been facing and especially those that are lower-income countries.”
But other experts argued that the results of the study might be overstated. Solomon Hsiang, a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, questioned whether the study could support a conclusion that rich countries had benefited, as well as some of the methods used in the analysis. He noted that previous research suggests that cold-climate countries might benefit from warming initially, but that the long-term harm means a net loss over time.
Why This Matters: The outcomes observed by this study are also echoed in the United States where warmer southern cities will experience more severe economic inequality as a result of climate change in the future. Climate change hits the most vulnerable populations the hardest and along with income inequality can bring increased political unrest and destabilization–something that even the Pentagon acknowledges. As an international community, we know that these threats exist yet we’ve been far too slow to act. In the 2020 race here in the U.S. and in future elections around the world, we have an opportunity to vote in candidates who are willing to pursue bold climate action to ensure that the global future isn’t marked by scarcity and instability.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer There’s been a three-fold increase in climate targets by Fortune Global 500 companies over the past three years, but more than 60% still don’t have any commitments on the books. That’s according to numbers from Natural Capital Partners, who led a discussion with leaders from some of the companies […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Just a month and a half after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported a “code red” for the world to combat climate, the UN announced on Friday that recent climate action plans submitted by 191 countries won’t come close to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees […]
This week is Climate Week NYC, an annual event hosted by The Climate Group and the United Nations, in partnership with the COP26 and the City of New York. For one week, from September 20-26, experts will be hosting panels and conversations about all things climate, and you can follow along at home via Facebook […]
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