Sustainability »
February 07, 2014

The link between climate change and poverty - take the quiz

poverty, birth mortality, children, environment

Climate change affects everyone but the majority of adverse effects are experienced by poor people around the world. Those living in poverty have a higher chance of experiencing the ill-effects climate change, and experience them more dramatically due to increased exposure and vulnerability. Poor people are less able to cope with adverse effects of climate change. 


According to the United Nations Development Program, developing countries suffer 99% of the casualties attributable to climate change. At the same time, the least 50 developed countries of the world account for a tiny, imbalanced, 1% contribution to the worldwide emissions of greenhouse gasses that create global warming.


Already, we are seeing crop withering heat waves, water shortages as aquifers dry up, insect and pest invasions, grain shortages, and rising food costs. Food shortages, malnutrition and starvation will increase, as food prices soar. As already poverty-stricken people lose what little economic stability they have and are unable to subsist, villages are abandoned and previously settled people become refugees. Massive increases in refugees lead to failing states and further create an unstable world of poverty, war and potential destruction of human civilization. 


Meanwhile, population continues to grow. Poverty reduces the chances that a woman will have birth control, increases the size of families and further stresses the environment and our insufficient resources. And thus the cycle continues.


The cycle of poverty, in turn, exacerbates the potential negative impacts of climate change. Poor families become trapped in poverty when they have limited or no access to resources, and no way to break the cycle. While in rich countries, coping with climate change means adjusting thermostats, for those in poverty, weather-related disasters, and a bad harvest can provide crippling economic shocks. Widespread famine, drought, and instability can affect an entire nation or continent. High levels of poverty and low levels of human development limit capacity of poor households to manage climate risks.


Climate change is stressing the natural balance of our environment to the breaking point, threatening our future. As Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute wrote in his book World on The Edge, "The threats to our future now are not armed aggression but rather climate change, population growth, water shortages, poverty, rising food prices, and failing states. Our challenge is not only to redefine security in conceptual terms, but also to reallocate fiscal priorities to shift resources toward . . . reforestation, soil conservation, fishery restoration, universal primary school education, and reproductive health care and family planning services for women everywhere."


"Although these goals are conceptually simple and easily understood, they will not be easily achieved. They will require an enormous effort from each of us. The vested interests of the fossil fuel and defense industries in maintaining the status quo are strong."


". . . But there is hope: Stabilizing population, eradicating poverty, and restoring the economy’s natural support systems would cost less than $200 billion of additional expenditures a year—a mere one eighth of current world military spending."



Aaron Cela

2/6/2014 12:35:13 PM

Wow, i learned something today

Steven Sullivan

2/5/2014 6:50:59 PM

Governments have power over the people and Private banks have power over governments. Everyone should educate themselves and read THE LOST SCIENCE OF MONEY The Mythology Of Money - The Story Of Power Stephen A. Zarlenga The way to secure peace and justice for people globally is to understand how power is held over others by those that control the money.

Wilda Brundage

11/6/2013 7:34:04 PM

Take Action Now 4real

Michele Nicole

9/19/2013 12:53:01 PM

This is a very important issue! Take Action!

Mackenzie Eisen

9/5/2013 10:24:14 AM

Is it possible that corporations are using the non-profits as a way to get involved in true service? I know that Coca-cola sponsored several expensive community outreach events at my local Boys and Girls club. Maybe they're finally doing their part in terms of corporate social responsibility. Just a thought

Lew Friedman

8/20/2013 7:21:44 PM

I'm shocked that Global Citizen has partnered with Coca-Cola. In Australia, a bottle deposit bill was passed in the Northern Territories. Coca-Cola went to court to overturn the bill. Coke has been involved in labor, human rights and environmental abuses, as well a racial discrimination against their black and Latino employees. For Global Citizen to be a good citizen, it must cut ties with The Coca-Cola Co. and stop allowing the company to use non-profits as a mask.

audrey Owens

8/18/2013 5:21:47 PM

When its suppose to be hot, its cold. When its suppose to be cold, its hot. The climate is changing. As global citizens, we must do our part.

Ralph Ortiz

8/18/2013 2:58:48 PM

We must face the fact that climate change is real n make every effort to minimize it's contributing causes.

Ashleigh Dean

8/6/2013 7:42:41 PM


Brendan Williams

8/1/2013 7:42:07 PM

Too bad military spending will always take precedence. Not only that but it seems people are stuck in their routines and won't change to help stop poverty and/or their negative effects on climate change.

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