Photo by Rajesh Mirchandani
Ravaging forest fires in Brazil. Intolerable heat in Australia. Deteriorating water resources in Africa. These are all impacts one might expect as a result of a warming planet. Images of fire and heat are often the first association people make to climate change. There’s much more to climate change than searing temperatures and colossal fires, however. Climate change has far reaching impacts around the world, but it doesn’t affect each region in the same way. Concurrently, each region can’t react to climate change in the same way.
Take the United States, for example. In the U.S. there are multiple avenues of recovery and prevention available to combat climate change. On top of this, while the U.S. is expected to be impacted greatly by climate change in the future, it will still be affected less compared to a nation in Africa, such as Ethiopia. Many African nations are especially susceptible to climate change because of their already harsh climates. Adding further heat and variability in precipitation to these areas further increases difficulty for these counties to produce the necessary resources it needs to function. In contrast, certain areas of the U.S. will actually benefit from a global rise in temperature, such as the cold northern states. Having a warmer average temperature could boost agriculture and tourism in states in the U.S. that are normally too cold to have high tourism or agricultural output.
This is not to say that climate change will have a net benefit in developed nations. The purpose of explaining why some developed nations will see small benefits is to highlight the disproportionate strain global temperature rise has on developing nations, despite those nations contributing little to global warming themselves. Not only does climate change have an unequal impact on poorer nations on its own, but poorer nations are also less equipped to handle the change. Many developing nations heavily rely on primary resources for their economies. That is, their economies count on their ability to get resources from the land. Rising temperature and changes to precipitation patterns makes it much more difficult for these countries to reliably extract what they need from the land for a living. To make matters worse, poorer counties are less able to invest in climate change countermeasures, such as infrastructure changes and research in agriculture.
One can look back at the U.S. and see that it’s much more able to deal with problems brought on by climate change (although it will certainly be a challenge for everyone in the future). For starters, the U.S. and many other nations like it do no have to rely as heavily on primary resources from the land as do poorer nations. Developed nations typically rely more on manufacturing and services, while getting a lot of their primary resources from poorer nations. They are also better equipped to research and develop ways to adapt to a warmer earth, making them more flexible.
Overall, while climate change will affect the entire earth and have changes that all of humanity must prepare for, developing nations are much more vulnerable to its problems. Although this is debatable, it may be the case that developed nations must assist poorer ones with problems brought about by climate change, especially since developed nations are much more liable in their contributions to global warming. Nevertheless, it’s evident that developing nations will require aid in the future to deal with the immense impact climate change will have on them, and that the world will have to keep a closer eye on the health of the people of these nations in the future.
© 2020 Weather Forecaster Cole Bristow