Climate change affects everyone, but it disproportionately impacts vulnerable and marginalized communities, including the poor. These communities often have fewer resources and less political power to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
For example, in a coastal community where fishing is a major source of income, rising sea levels and more frequent storms may make it more difficult for fishermen to go out to sea, leading to a loss of income. Without the financial means to adapt, such as by investing in more durable boats or finding alternative sources of income, these individuals and their families may be at risk of poverty and food insecurity.
According to a report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), between 1995 and 2015, more than 95% of all deaths caused by natural disasters occurred in developing countries. During this period, more than 1.3 million people died as a result of natural disasters, and more than 4.4 billion people were affected.
It is difficult to determine the exact percentage of people living in poverty worldwide, as definitions of poverty and methods of measuring it vary across countries and regions. However, according to the World Bank, as of 2021, about 9.2% of the global population, or about 689 million people, lived in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 per day. This represents a significant reduction from 1990, when more than 35% of the global population lived in extreme poverty.
It is important to address the needs and concerns of poor communities in the context of climate change and to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate.
Common climate change scenarios affecting poor people
Climate change can have many negative impacts on poor communities. One of the most common scenarios is that poor communities may be more vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and droughts, which are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change. These communities may not have the financial means to rebuild homes and infrastructure or to relocate to safer areas, leaving them more vulnerable to the impacts of these disasters.
Additionally, poor communities may be more reliant on agriculture, forestry, and fishing for their livelihoods, and changes in the climate can have a significant impact on these sectors, leading to food insecurity and loss of income.
They are also more exposed to air pollution and other environmental health risks, such as water contamination, which can have serious impacts on their health and well-being. Finally, the poor communities may have fewer resources and less political power to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, making it more difficult for them to access resources and support to help them adapt to a changing climate.
The geo-political concerns relating to the poor people
From a geopolitical standpoint, climate change can have significant impacts on poor communities and countries, particularly those that are already vulnerable due to political instability, conflict, or other factors.
For example, poorer countries may have less developed infrastructure and fewer resources to adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as more frequent natural disasters or shifts in temperature and rainfall patterns. This can make it more difficult for these countries to protect their citizens and maintain stability.
In addition, climate change can exacerbate existing conflicts or lead to new ones. For example, competition for dwindling natural resources, such as water and land, may lead to tension and conflict between communities or countries.
It is important for wealthier and more powerful countries to recognize their role in contributing to climate change and to support poorer countries in their efforts to adapt to and mitigate its impacts. This can involve providing financial and technical assistance, as well as addressing the root causes of climate change through policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the poorest countries in the world, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their reliance on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods. These countries are often already facing challenges such as poverty, food insecurity, and limited access to healthcare, and climate change can exacerbate these challenges.
Other poor countries that may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change include small island states, which are at risk of sea level rise and more frequent and severe storms, and countries in Central America and the Caribbean, which are also at risk of more frequent and severe storms and other natural disasters.
It is worth noting that poverty is not evenly distributed around the world, and it is more prevalent in some regions than others. For example, in 2021, about 31% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa lived in extreme poverty, compared to less than 1% in Europe and Central Asia.
Closing Note: Poor and Climate Change
In conclusion, climate change disproportionately affects poor communities, who often have fewer resources and less political power to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate. These communities may be more vulnerable to natural disasters, changes in agriculture and livelihoods, environmental health risks, and limited resources and political power.
To address these challenges, it is important for wealthier and more powerful countries to recognize their role in contributing to climate change and to support poorer countries in their efforts to adapt and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate. It is also important to address the needs and vulnerabilities of poor communities in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, including by providing financial and technical assistance to help these communities adapt to the impacts of climate change and implement sustainable development practices.
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