Climate Change and Economic Inequality

Climate change in the U.S. could help the rich and hurt the poor, By Brady Dennis, June 29, 2017, Washington Post: “Researchers have long warned that unmitigated climate change could cause severe financial hardship to the United States in coming decades. But a new study published Thursday in the journal Science details how global warming could disproportionately affect poor areas of the country, contributing to widening economic inequality among Americans…”

Natural Disasters and Poverty

Natural disasters push 26m into poverty each year, says World Bank, By Larry Elliott, November 14, 2016, The Guardian: “Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption, the World Bank has said.  A bank study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was $520bn (£416bn) a year – 60% higher than any previous estimate – once the impact on poor people was taken into account…”

Global Poverty

UN states set goal to end poverty, hunger in next 15 years, By Edith M. Lederer (AP), August 3, 2015, ABC News: “The 193 member states of the United Nations have reached agreement on a new development agenda for the next 15 years that calls for eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, improving living standards and taking urgent action to combat climate change. The draft agreement reached Sunday evening outlines 17 goals with 169 specific targets on issues ranging from ending poverty ‘in all its forms everywhere’ to ensuring quality education and affordable and reliable energy, and protecting the environment…”

Climate Change and the World’s Poor

  • World’s poorest will feel brunt of climate change, warns World Bank, By Fiona Harvey, June 19, 2013, The Guardian: “Millions of people around the world are likely to be pushed back into poverty because climate change is undermining economic development in poor countries, the World Bank has warned. Droughts, floods, heatwaves, sea-level rises and fiercer storms are likely to accompany increasing global warming and will cause severe hardship in areas that are already poor or were emerging from poverty, the bank said in a report. Food shortages will be among the first consequences within just two decades, along with damage to cities from fiercer storms and migration as people try to escape the effects…”
  • Climate change threatens trouble in the near future, World Bank says, By Howard Schneider, June 18, 2013, Washington Post: “The World Bank is beginning to commit billions of dollars to flood prevention, water management and other projects to help major Asian cities avoid the expected impact of climate change, a dramatic example of how short the horizon has become to alleviate the effects of global warming. Places such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are now considered ‘hot spots’ that will bear the brunt of the impact as sea levels rise, tropical storms become more violent, and rainfall becomes both more sporadic and — in the rainy season — more intense…”

Scientific American Series: Pollution, Poverty and People of Color

Scientific American Special Report: Pollution, Poverty, and People of Color:

  • Living with Industry, By Jane Kay and Cheryl Katz (Environmental Health News), June 4, 2012, Scientific American: “From the house where he was born, Henry Clark can stand in his back yard and see plumes pouring out of one of the biggest oil refineries in the United States. As a child, he was fascinated by the factory on the hill, all lit up at night like the hellish twin of a fairy tale city. In the morning, he’d go out to play and find the leaves on the trees burned to a crisp…”
  • Children at Risk, By Lindsey Konkel  (Environmental Health News), June 6, 2012, Scientific American: “When doctors told Wanda Ford her 2-year-old son had lead poisoning, she never suspected that the backyard in her low-income neighborhood was the likely culprit. Ford knew that exposure to the heavy metal could be dangerous. So when she and her husband moved into the Lower Lincoln Street neighborhood, Ford, then pregnant, took steps to make sure their 100-year-old home was lead-free. ‘We never thought to test the soil – my son played in the backyard all the time,’ said Ford, whose son is now seven…”
  • Don’t Drink the Water, By Liza Gross (Environmental Health News), June 12, 2012, Scientific American: “Jessica Sanchez sits on the edge of her seat in her mother’s kitchen, hands resting on her bulging belly. Eight months pregnant, she’s excited about the imminent birth of her son. But she’s scared too. A few feet away, her mother, Bertha Dias, scrubs potatoes with water she bought from a vending machine. She won’t use the tap water because it’s contaminated with nitrates…”
  • A Michigan Tribe Battles a Global Corporation, By Brian Bienkowski  (Environmental Health News), June 12, 2012, Scientific American: “Head in any direction on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and you will reach gushing rivers, placid ponds and lakes – both Great and small. An abundant resource, this water has nourished a small Native American community for hundreds of years. So 10 years ago, when an international mining company arrived near the shores of Lake Superior to burrow a mile under the Earth and pull metals out of ore, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa had to stand for its rights and its water…”
  • Falling into the Climate Gap, By Doug Struck  (Environmental Health News), June 19, 2012, Scientific American: “The Shore Plaza East apartments have a stunning skyline view of downtown Boston across the harbor: Waves lap at the foot of the eight-story building; sailboats carve foam trails in the water. These could be million-dollar condos. But, buffeted by winds and the threat of storm-water flooding, these apartments are subsidized housing, reserved for the poor…”
  • Asthma and the Inner City, By Crystal Gammon  (Environmental Health News), June 20, 2012, Scientific American: “On a clear spring day, the four-year-olds laughed as they ran out on the playground at the start of morning recess. Within minutes, one boy stopped, a terrified look on his face. Brenda Crisp and her staff immediately realized what was happening: Asthma attack…”

Natural Disaster Displacement

Millions displaced by natural disasters last year, Associated Press, June 6, 2011, Lincoln Journal Star: “About 42 million people were forced to flee their homes because of natural disasters around the world in 2010, more than double the number during the previous year, experts said Monday. One reason for the increase in the figure could be climate change, and the international community should be doing more to contain it, the experts said. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said the increase from 17 million displaced people in 2009 was mainly due to the impact of ‘mega-disasters’ such as the massive floods in China and Pakistan and the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti…”

Climate Change and Aid to Poor Nations

  • Climate change help for the poor ‘has not materialised’, November 25, 2009, BBC News: “Rich countries pledged $410m (£247m) a year in a 2001 declaration – but it is now unclear whether the money was paid. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has accused industrialised countries of failing to keep their promise. The EU says the money was paid out in bilateral deals, but admits it cannot provide data to prove it. The money was pledged in the 2001 Bonn Declaration, signed by 20 industrialised nations – the 15 countries that then made up the European Union, plus Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland. They said they would pay $410m per year until 2008. The date the payments were meant to start is unclear, but the total should be between $1.6bn and $2.87bn. The declaration said: ‘We are prepared to contribute $410m, which is 450 million euro, per year by 2005 with this level to be reviewed in 2008.’ But only $260m has ever been paid into two UN funds earmarked for the purpose, the BBC World Service investigation has found…”
  • UK and France propose climate fund for poor, November 28, 2009, BBC News: “UK PM Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have proposed a multi-billion-dollar fund to help developing nations deal with climate change. Mr Brown said the $10bn (£6bn) fund should also be used to help developing nations cut greenhouse gas emissions. Both spoke at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad, the last major world forum before the global summit on climate change in Copenhagen on 7 December. Many Commonwealth members are island states threatened by rising sea levels. Mr Sarkozy, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Danish Prime Minister Prime Lars Loekke Rasmussen, is there to give weight to any climate change statement. The topic was the only issue on the Commonwealth summit’s agenda for the first day…”

Drought and Poverty – India

Amid droughts and failed crops, a cycle of poverty worsens, By Mark Magnier, December 1, 2009, Los Angeles Times: “She stops for long stretches, lost in thought, trying to make sense of how she’s been left half a person. Sunita, 18, who requested that her family name not be used to preserve her chance of getting married, said her nightmare started in early 2007 after her father took a loan for her sister’s wedding. The local moneylender charged 60% annual interest. When the family was unable to make the exorbitant interest payments, she said, the moneylender forced himself on her, not once or twice but repeatedly over many months. ‘I used to cry a lot and became a living corpse,’ she said. Sunita’s allegations, which the moneylender denies, cast a harsh light on widespread abuses in rural India, where a highly bureaucratic banking system, corruption and widespread illiteracy allow unethical people with extra income to exploit poor villagers, activists say…”

Poor Nations and Climate Change

Poor nations vow low-carbon path, By Richard Black, November 11, 2009, BBC News: “Poor countries considered vulnerable to climate change have pledged to embark on moves to a low-carbon future, and challenge richer states to match them. The declaration from the first meeting of a new 11-nation forum calls on rich countries to give 1.5% of their GDP for climate action in the developing world. It also calls for much tougher limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The forum was established by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed to highlight the climate ‘threat’ to poor nations. The declaration contends that man-made climate change poses an ‘existential threat to our nations, our cultures and to our way of life, and thereby undermines the internationally protected human rights of our people…'”

Climate Change and Developing Countries

  • A bad climate for development, September 17, 2009, The Economist: “In late April Mostafa Rokonuzzaman, a farmer in south-western Bangladesh, gave an impassioned speech at a public meeting in his village, complaining that climate change, freakish hot spells and failed rains were ruining his vegetables. He didn’t know the half of it. A month later Mr Rokonuzzaman was chest-deep in a flood that had swept away his house, farm and even the village where the meeting took place. Cyclone Aila (its effects pictured above) which caused the storm surge that breached the village’s flood barriers, was itself a plausible example of how climate change is wreaking devastation in poor countries. Most people in the West know that the poor world contributes to climate change, though the scale of its contribution still comes as a surprise. Poor and middle-income countries already account for just over half of total carbon emissions (see chart 1); Brazil produces more CO2 per head than Germany. The lifetime emissions from these countries’ planned power stations would match the world’s entire industrial pollution since 1850. Less often realised, though, is that global warming does far more damage to poor countries than they do to the climate…”
  • 4.5 M kids worldwide in danger of dying, By Ellalyn De Vera, September 18, 2009, Manila Bulletin: “At least 4.5 million children worldwide are in danger of dying from the impacts of climate change unless world leaders agree to increase funds that will mitigate the effects of climate change, non-government aid agency Oxfam International said. Oxfam issued the statement during the launch of its report titled ‘Beyond Aid’ released Wednesday, in time for the United Nations Climate Summit in New York on Sept. 22. The meeting will be followed by the G20 Summit on Sept. 24, where climate finance will be high on the agenda…”

Climate Change and Hunger – Nepal

Millions in Nepal facing hunger as climate changes, By Binaj Gurubacharya (AP), August 28, 2009, Bradenton Herald: ” Millions of people in Nepal face severe food shortages because global climate change has disrupted weather patterns and slashed crop yields in the Himalayan nation, an international aid agency warned Friday. Changing weather patterns have dramatically affected crop production in Nepal, leaving farmers unable to properly feed themselves and pushing them into debt, Oxfam International said in a report released in Katmandu…”

Climate Change and Hunger

  • Climate change shifting seasons is causing widespread hunger, By Louise Gray, July 6, 2009, The Telegraph: “The regular arrival of the rains or a dry period to harvest staple crops ensures the majority of people around the world can grow enough food to eat. But a new report by Oxfam has found that poor farmers in developing countries are increasingly finding the growing season is changing as a consequence of climate change…”
  • Third World hardest hit by climate change, report finds, By Sue Bailey, July 6, 2009, The Globe and Mail: “The globe’s richest powerhouses must get serious about how First World pollution is spreading disease and hunger in the poorest countries, a new report says. Oxfam International is calling for drastic action on global warming as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Group of Eight leaders gather tomorow in Italy…”