This is Who Will Be Most Impacted by Climate Change

While the impacts of climate change seem like an ominous, distant problem, developing countries are already experiencing the devastating effects. In fact, developing countries experience the impacts of climate change disproportionately more than developed countries, despite contributing the lowest in carbon-emissions. This means that the world’s most poor and vulnerable populations are most susceptible to have their lives and well-being wiped out due to emissions and lifestyles of the wealthiest nations.

 Photo by Akshay Gupta, Pacific Press, Getty Images

Photo by Akshay Gupta, Pacific Press, Getty Images

 

According to a study published by Nature Scientific Reports, more than half of the highest emitting countries are among the least vulnerable to climate change, and about two-thirds of countries with the lowest emissions are acutely vulnerable. Researchers classified countries as “free riders,” countries ranking in the top fifth in terms of emissions and bottom 20% in terms of vulnerability, and “forced riders,” countries with low emissions and high vulnerability. Countries that classify as “free riders” include the United States, much of Europe, and Australia, while “forced rider” countries include many island countries that are at risk to be wiped off the face of the earth entirely from rising sea levels.

 

Why are developing countries particularly at risk? Many developing countries rely heavily on climate-related industries to sustain their economy (e.g. agriculture), and also individual well-being. Further, developing countries lack the financial resources and human capacity to respond to impacts of climate change.

 Copyright © 2014 CartoonArts International

Copyright © 2014 CartoonArts International

 

In addition to impacting the economic future of developing countries, climate change will lead to increased health risks, including malnutrition, malaria, and more. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change displaced approximately 87 million people between the years 2008 and 2011, and is predicted to contribute to about 250,000 additions deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.The World Bank report says that small rises in global temperatures could have devastating impacts on global health, and “could increase the number of people at risk for malaria by up to 5%, 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.”

 

So while over in the United States it seems like the effects of climate change are not as imminent, countries least responsible for carbon emissions are already experience devastating repercussions.

 

Photo by Akshay Gupta, Pacific Press, Getty Images