Social Inequality and Climate Change Alexandra Andreiu

Humans are without a doubt causing climate change, and the inequality around the world only exacerbates the effects. It is unfair that the countries who do not contribute as much to climate change are the countries greatly effected by it.

Populations in developing countries are increasing rapidly, as are the CO2 emissions in developed countries.

The human population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion during the 20th century. It took hundreds of years for the population to reach 1 billion, but it took just a hundred years for the population to sextuple.

More people, means more pollution and a higher demand for food and housing.

In developed countries, population growth is stable, but in developing countries, the population is rapidly increasing.

“If we cannot stabilize climate and we cannot stabilize population, there is not an ecosystem on Earth that we can save.”- Worldwatch Institute

Countries that pollute more feel the effects less.

This map shows the vulnerability of countries to climate change. Countries in green are not affected as much by climate change and the countries in red are most affected.
Countries in red are the countries that emit the most carbon dioxide and the ones in green emit the least amount of carbon dioxide.

This map shows the Human Development Index around the world. The countries that are the darkest blue are most developed and those that are white, are developing. Most countries around the world are still developing.

The richest 10% are responsible for 50% percent of global carbon emissions, while the poorest 50% are only responsible for 10% of carbon emissions.

Because of climate change, certain countries will be experiencing severe weather. For example, Bangladesh will face extreme sea level rises.

The Caribbean will be devastated by extreme and frequent hurricanes.

Large areas of Africa will experience extreme droughts. And by 2100, vast portions of the Middle East will be too hot for humans to live in.

The first priority of developing nations is industrialization. Developing nations are following examples set by developed nations, and so their plans for industrialization require fossil fuels.

Developed nations believe that developing nations should limit their use of fossil fuels.

However, industrialization will help raise some of these developing countries out of poverty and help them on their way towards becoming developed nations.

What the developed nations are asking is unfair and not feasible.

Climate refugees are on the rise.

Some people are forced to leave their homes because climate change has made their homes unlivable.

There is a prediction that 250 million people will be displaced because of climate change by 2050.

Inequality within countries also plays a factor in the impacts of climate change.

Minority groups within nations are at greater risk in the face of climate change.

"Environmental Racism- the placement of low-income or minority communities in the proximity of environmentally hazardous or degraded environments, such as toxic waste, pollution and urban decay"- www.yourdictionary.com

An example of environmental racism is with the lead smelter in Missouri. Low-income, minority groups living in this city were greatly affected by the lead poisoning from the smelter.

Toxic waste sites are intentionally placed in minority neighborhoods because the rich do not want the garbage near their houses.

The wealthy take advantage of poor communities and their health.

Hurricane Katrina is an example of how social inequality plays a huge part in the safety of individuals.

The rich fled the city before the hurricane hit, while the poor had to endure the storm.

The individuals left in the city did not receive help right away. They had to take food from grocery stores in order to survive.

More people were concerned about the individuals stealing from grocery stores than they were concerned about the well-being of those individuals.

"“No nation will be immune to the impacts of climate change,” said a major World Bank report on the issue last year. “However, the distribution of impacts is likely to be inherently unequal and tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions, which have the least economic, institutional, scientific and technical capacity to cope and adapt.” "- Annie Lowrey (New York Times)
"But those who did the least to cause climate change would be the first in the line of fire: the poor and the weak, and communities that were subjected to discrimination." - The Guardian
"Climate change would also make it harder for developing countries to climb out of poverty, and would create "poverty pockets" in rich and poor countries." - The Guardian
"Climate change does not respect border; it does not respect who you are - rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call 'global challenges,' which require global solidarity." - Ban Ki-moon

All we need to do is work together to stop climate change. But as simple as this sounds, it is not happening.

Instead, the developed countries are emitting as much greenhouse gases as they want, and the developing countries are trying to get out of poverty.

Every country is doing their own thing and disregarding each other.

We need to find a way in which we can all come together- rich or poor- and save our common home.

Discussion Question: What do you think is the best way to solve the problem of social inequality and climate change? Is coming together as a world as simple as it sounds?

Works Citied:

  • “Ban Ki-Moon Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/ban_kimoon.html.
  • Dossa, Aliya et al. “Inequality Explained: 7 Ways Climate Change and Inequality Are Connected.” OpenCanada, 14 Jan. 2016, www.opencanada.org/features/inequality-explained-7-ways-climate-change-and-inequality-are-connected/.
  • Gates, Sara. “These Countries Face The Biggest Threats From Climate Change.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 30 Oct. 2013, www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/climate-change-vulnerability-index-countries-impacts-costs_n_4174938.html.
  • Goldenberg, Suzanne. “Climate Change: the Poor Will Suffer Most.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 Mar. 2014, www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-poor-suffer-most-un-report.
  • Harvey, Chelsea. “Climate Change Is Going to Make Inequality Even Worse than It Already Is.” Washington Post, The Washington Post, 8 Dec. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/07/climate-change-is-going-to-make-inequality-even-worse-than-it-already-is/?utm_term=.d152a60fe884.
  • Lowrey, Annie. “The Inequality of Climate Change.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Nov. 2013, economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/12/the-inequality-of-climate-change/?_r.

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Created with images by yisris - "Tsunami catastrophe" • Nick Kenrick. - "Rajasthan . India" • SD-Pictures - "industry sunrise sky" • KarinKarin - "factory industry industrial landscape"

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