Pushed Into Poverty By Pollution

Climate change can be seen all around us, but what is often overlooked is the effects it may have on the current and future populations of the world’s poorest people. Those living in the most extreme situations of poverty are experiencing the effects of climate change in the most drastic ways without any contribution to the issue. With the future holding a possibility of the rise of global temperatures by 4°C, those in poverty cannot be overlooked because their situation will only continue to get worse. The effects of climate change are pushing those who are in poverty further into poverty and with the creation of  ‘poverty pockets,’ there is hope if action is taken soon.

The effects of climate change only cause the poor to sink further into poverty, which expands the gap between the rich and poor. Crop yields have seen a significant decline in recent years, because of droughts among those living in poverty. Small agriculture has become the backbone of impoverished people, and the effects of climate change have begun to affect their livelihoods. For instance, they have begun to sell their livestock to feed their family, thereby destroying their sustainable means of economic income due to the effects of drought and various other weather effects. This is what is creating said ‘poverty pockets,’ where the poor countries only continue to become poorer and the rich richer. According to Maarten van Aalast, Director of the Red Cross Climate Centre, the agency has evidence that the poor are being hit hardest by weather-related disasters. As well, the health of those in poverty will also decline if the global temperature is allowed to rise by 4°C, as predicted. According to World Bank, “[this] could increase the number of people at risk [of] malaria by up to 5 percent, or more than 150 million more people affected. Diarrhea would be more prevalent, and increased water scarcity would have an effect on water quality and hygiene.”

The United States is second to China in the production of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the World Bank. With one of the highest GDP’s in the world, the people of the United States are not experiencing the effects of their emissions as much as those who are living in poverty. However, measures to ensure the sustainable development and livelihood of those in poverty have not been overlooked. Solidified by the 2015 Paris Climate Deal, global powers look to keep the increase in global temperatures below 2°C or, ideally, below 1.5°C.  Those in poverty were not forgotten in the Paris Climate Deal and are even mentioned in the text of the agreement. For example, “…in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.” With that said, there have been actions taken to better the global climate, which in turn may provide a sustainable means of development in poorer countries in order to lessen the gap between the rich and the poor.

Those in poverty have already begun to experience the negative effects of a climate change implemented by those of foreign lands. However, the poor of our globe will begin to reap the benefits of the Paris Climate Deal and will be able to climb out of their poverty, as long as action on carbon dioxide emissions is taken now.