Climate Change and poverty increase


In the world after the Cold war non-military threats prevail over military ones. The threats are connected to population growth, lack of natural resources and degradation of environment.

The consequences of already changing climate will affect everyone. We will be confronted with more droughts, floods, storms, coastal flooding, sea-level rise, change of coastal ecosystems, heat waves and with it health problems. Less reliable rain, more water shortages, worse harvests and higher food prices will be a part of daily news. Competition for resources will make conflicts and poverty increase more frequent.

Human influence on the climate system is acknowledged by most scientists. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports show that recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are at the highest level in history. The atmosphere and oceansare warmer, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, and sea level has risen. Furthermore glaciers are continuously shrinking almost worldwide. Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover has continued to decrees in extent. Implications are seen in quality and quantity of drinking water. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that implications of climate change for humankind are the same threat as war.

Regardless the cause of climate change, with sea-level rise more than 634 million people who live in low-elevation areas are at risk. Countries that have the most people living in coastal areas are China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, United States, Thailand and the Philippines. Two third of world’s largest cities (more than 5 million people) are at least partially living in these low areas. This cannot be ignored, since with growth of population more and more people are moving into the cities. Bahamas, Suriname, the Netherlands, Vietnam, Guyana, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Belize, Egypt and Gambia have also the largest share of their population living in low-elevation areas. The exact rise is hard to predict due to uncertainty in thermal expansion, the melting of glaciers and ice caps, and loss of ice from the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheet. Under the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios by the mid-2090s, for instance, global sea level reaches 0.22 to 0.44 m above 1990 levels, and is rising at about 4 mm per year. Climate change will not only affect salinity levels, but also ocean temperatures and circulation patterns. There are increasing concerns that climate change will reduce the overall intensity of deep-ocean circulation that plays a significant role in temperature patterns around the globe. As a result some of mentioned countries that are most vulnerable do not have resources to prepare for sea-level rise. There exists a big potential for very large number of environmental refugees and internally displaced persons that will shake up the security.

Climate change with population growth and economy represents negative impact on amount of fresh and drinking water. Solutions lies in construction of an ambitious water supply projects, transport with tankers, recycling of wastewater, desalination and indirect import of water. Problem with all of proposals is price. Considering population growth by the year 2050 more than 30% of population will suffer water scarcity. Research by development Agency Tearfund showed that by the end of the year 2050 five times more of earth surface as today will be affected by extreme drought. By 2050 there will be 200 million climate refugees. Problems are seen in Brazil, China and Niger. There will be great effect on Mediterranean as well. Meteorologists say we need to count on more deaths, diseases and injures due to heat, floods, storms, droughts and forest fires in some part of the world. Climate change is projected to undermine food and energy security as well.

It is very likely that heat waves will occur with higher frequency and longer duration.Based on NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in last hundred years the temperature had risen for 0, 95 degrees Celsius. In the centuries mentioned above we will witness rise for another 2 or 3 degrees Celsius. Changing the average global temperature by even a degree or two can lead to serious consequences. For example, at the end of the last ice age, average temperatures were only 5 to 9 degrees cooler than today. Prediction for near future is reduction of corps that currently grows, increase amount of rainfall and with it floods, decrease in steam flow in some river basins andincrease number of areas burned by wildfire.

If all this sounds to you like catastrophic scenario for the future I need to inform you that you are mistaken. This is the present. Sudan’s Darfur is well known case and can be marked as a war for water. With the lack of water we will see problems along major rivers flows that run through different countries. There are already occurring some regarding river Euphrates and Tigris concerning Iraq, Syria,Iran and Turkey.According to a UN (United Nations) climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources of Asia’s biggest rivers – Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Yellow – could disappear by 2350 as temperatures rises.Increasing conflict and land disputes are happening in the arid Sahel region, caused by changing climate. Imagine you do not have a reliable water resource, irregular water supply damages your crops and ruins harvest, change of rainfall or none at all jeopardize your securityand then clashes for survival begins.

Climate change will influence resource completion and put additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.Climate change will intensify poverty, environmental pollution, political instability and social tensions.There will be more than Kyoto protocols needed to reduce consequences of climate change and to prevent future and ongoing clashes. The problem is also that the single-largest carbon emitter, the United States has not made any lasting commitment to help tackle climate change. Also in developing countries such as India and China levels of CO2 emission has risen, and continue to rise. We need to be more energy sufficient, choose renewable power, eat wisely, trim our waste, fly and drive less, and last but not least get informed and involved.

Teja Palko
Teja Palko
Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.


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