A general view on the chimneys of the Hsieh-ho Power Plant in Keelung, northern Taiwan. EPA/DAVID CHANG
In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists demonstrate the full ramifications of a widely accepted theory about climate change: that it will almost certainly have a disproportionate impact on the poor.
Climate change won’t just hit the poor hardest, but it will exacerbate existing inequality within societies essentially slowing, halting or, in extreme cases, even reversing their economic growth.
Most of the efforts on quantifying damage from climate change are still just trying to improve on estimates of damage to the economy as a whole, without looking at its incidence across the income distribution. We need to start directing our efforts at quantifying the distribution.
The new paper fundamentally challenges the idea that all people in the future will be more affluent than previous generations. If climate impacts are borne mostly by the poor, then the future poor will, in fact, be very poor indeed.
Michel Ouellette JMD