Climate change, enemy of poor nations

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According to a study by Stanford University, climate change has worsened global economic inequality

Climate change, enemy of poor nations

The results of the study, led by scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, show that increases in temperatures due to greenhouse gases, since the 1960s, have enriched nations such as Norway and Sweden and impoverished countries such as India and Nigeria. This means that because of climate change, global economic inequality has increased; the poor nations have become poorer.

Leer en español: Cambio climático, enemigo de las naciones pobres

In statements collected by EurekAlert, the scientist says that "our results show that most of the poorest countries on Earth are considerably poorer than they would have been without global warming." The study shows that wealth per person, in the poorest countries, fell from 17% to 30%, from 1961 to 2010. Additionally, the gap between "the group of nations with the highest and lowest economic performance per person is approximately 25 per a hundred times bigger than it would have been without climate change."

Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke, an assistant professor at Stanford, have concluded that without climate change the economic gap would have narrowed faster than it has in recent decades.

In the case of India, the economic impact of rising temperatures may not have been seen in the short term. However, nowadays, the study shows that its economy is 31% smaller than it would have been without the climate change caused by human action.

Why colder nations are richer?

Burke explains that the ideal temperature for crops, health, and productivity is not too cold nor too hot. For this reason, the increase in temperatures in nations such as Norway and Sweden has been beneficial. However, in nations with high temperatures, greenhouse gases have produced a higher heat, affecting social and economic life.

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In nations with tropical climates, the Burke and Diffebbaugh model is not certain that climate change has affected or benefited them as in the case of countries that have seasons. Additionally, the study is not clear on how it has benefited or damaged nations located in mid-latitudes such as the United States and Japan.

Burke, in remarks echoed by EurekAlert, said that "some of the larger economies are close to the perfect temperature for economic production. Global warming has not pushed them from the top of the hill and, in many cases, has pushed them towards it, but a large amount of warming in the future will push them further and further away from the optimum temperature."

Access to sustainable energy

In addition to combating climate change and implementing public policies that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, Burke and Diffebbaugh recommend expanding access to clean energy, especially in countries with lower economic performance. The reason is that the more warming and increase in temperatures there is, the greater the gap between nations will be.


LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from "Cambio climático, enemigo de las naciones pobres"