Climate change could impact the poor much more than previously thought

Jan 28, 2015

Photograph: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

It’s widely accepted that climate change will have bigger negative impacts on poorer countries than wealthy ones. However, a new economic modeling study finds that the economic impacts on these poorer countries could be much larger than previous estimates.

As a result, they suggest that we should be aiming to limit global warming to near, or perhaps even less than the international target of 2°C. This conclusion is in sharp contrast to current economic models, which generally conclude that the economically optimal pathway results in a global surface warming around 3–3.5°C.

Current economic models mainly treat economic growth as an external factor. In these models, global warming and its impacts via climate change don’t significantly affect the rate at which the economy grows. However, several economic studies have concluded that this is an inaccurate assumption, with a 2012 paper by Melissa Dell and colleagues taking the first stab at quantifying the effects of climate damages on economic growth.

The new study by Frances Moore and Delavane Diaz of Stanford University calibrates the climate ‘damage functions’ in one of these economic models (DICE, developed by William Nordhaus at Yale) using the results from the Dell paper. They grouped the world into rich and poor countries, finding that while the economies of rich countries continue to grow well in a warmer world, the economic growth of poor countries is significantly impaired.


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9 comments on “Climate change could impact the poor much more than previously thought

  • Current economic models mainly treat economic growth as an external factor. In these models, global warming and its impacts via climate change don’t significantly affect the rate at which the economy grows.

    The “economic models” would have to be delusionally detached from reality to think that perpetual “growth” is possible or desirable on a planet with finite resources.

    We know that incompetent politicians, and “market forces” economists, need inflationary “growth”, to maintain the illusion that they are running the world’s productivity, but sustainable development is the way forward, with the pruning out of obsolete industries and brain-dead ideologies, to make way for growing new sustainable industries, sustainable populations, and sustainable life support systems.



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  • Already these poor, often African, countries are spending a huge proportion of their domestic budget on Climate Change Mitigation. Take a look on page four.

    This is where the evidence of AGW should make the rich countries feel deeply guilty. Squandering fossil carbon now for fastest track growth for ourselves hasn’t just put our children in hock (which they’ll pay back with the help of their grandchildren) it has denied that first burst of growth to the poorest, the one that lifts them merely into half decent healthcare and half decent education. We should be making good that deficit.



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  • Governments should impose a tax so big for the wealthy ones so it would not be worth to accumulate wealth. But unfortunately governments are capitalists. It has always bothered me how rich who are thousands of kilometers away from me can get away with polluting the air,… the same one I breathe, how can they not be punished when they are creating climate conditions that influence all people on Earth. Their actions are killing people thousand of kilometers away, and they are exempt of responsibility. I am sad.



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  • Modesti Jan 29, 2015 at 3:51 am

    Governments should impose a tax so big for the wealthy ones so it would not be worth to accumulate wealth. But unfortunately governments are capitalists.

    Unfortunately, the wealthy have usually recognised that a small donation (relative to the size of their fortunes), can secure stooge politicians, propagandist campaigns, and media stooges, to see that their interests come first in government and that pseudo-scandals and disinformation is circulated about those opposing them.

    If this fails in one country, they can always move their operations to somewhere more corrupt which cares less about its people.

    The gullible “foot-shooters” lap this up, and keep supporting them at elections.



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  • ” finding that while the economies of rich countries continue to grow well in a warmer world, the economic growth of poor countries is significantly impaired.”

    I recall seeing a chart (here) which showed a 4 degree rise in temperature by the end of my lifetime and how it will impact Africa. I doubt seeing atrocities will wake people out of denial, but the lack of recreational water will. If you get a chance, check out Nasa’s GRACE satellite’s images of California ground water. Fortunately, people living in the CA area and the Southwestern US are becoming aware, yet you have people living in water rich regions – the Great Lakes – who waste water and dump all sorts of stuff down the drain. There is not a push to protect water as much as what I have seen in desert areas. This will prove to be a costly mistake in the long run. Yes richer countries will continue to do well in a warmer world, but only for so long…and at what risk to our health?



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  • check out Nasa’s GRACE satellite’s images of California ground water. Fortunately, people living in the CA area and the Southwestern US are becoming aware, yet you have people living in water rich regions.

    I live in a similar climate to southern California. Is there a culture of installing rain water tanks in this area. I have 30,000 litres of rainwater storage plumbed to the entire house with a commercial level water filter that makes it safe to drink. We get around 8 months of the year off water grid. I know that this doesn’t help the market gardens in that area that rely on ground water, however, as each household supplies its own water, that would normally run out onto the street and eventually out to sea, it does leave water available for more valuable uses.

    This farm is an example of what the future will look like. A dry desert location. Solar distilled sea water supplying a huge and commercially viable market garden. By the accent, I suspect the inventor might be American. Short video here.

    http://www.sundropfarms.com/overview/

    This is another example of looking at the wrong issue. There is plenty of water in California, but not for this many people or industries. All environmental problems are caused by overpopulation.



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  • @OP – Climate change could impact the poor much more than previously thought

    Poor subsistence peoples, should not allow themselves to be conned by foreign commercial interests or corrupt governments, into spending their limited resources, or take on foreign debt, to pay for carbon based heavy infrastructure projects.

    Remote settlements, can have modern internet, phones, TV, radio, and lighting, using simple photovoltaic panels and batteries, without the need for cable networks, or centralised power systems.

    In places like Africa they can also use solar cookers for food preparation and pasteurization of water, thus avoiding destroying trees, long walks seeking firewood, or suffering from water borne infections.

    http://www.solarcookers.org/basics/how.html

    http://www.greeneconomycoalition.org/glimpses/solar-cooker-kenya



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  • This is another example of looking at the wrong issue. There is plenty of water in California, but not for this many people or industries. All environmental problems are caused by overpopulation.

    David has it right. European populations and European-ancestry populations worldwide – in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have stopped growing. Ethnic Europeans have set a course for aging, stagnation then decline in the 21st century. All future growth will take place in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Incidentally “population growth in the 21st century” means adding about 4 billion people to the 6 billion living in 2000 for a total of 10 billion people. If the international community fails to implement family planning programs achieving global fertility within a reasonable sub-replacement range -say 1.7 to 1.8 children per woman – by 2050, then global warming, keeping pace with unchecked population growth, is going to fry a lot of “extra” people.



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