The topics of global warming and climate change have been discussed in great length in recent times. The effects of both of these trends have an especially significant impact on those living in poverty. Here are some ways climate change impacts poverty by making life more difficult for those already experiencing poor conditions:

Climate change causes more extreme weather. For instance, floods or hurricanes can result in damage to homes and land. Displacement is especially an issue in developing countries when natural disasters strike because victims may flee to safer areas, but are unable to return to their homes.

According to the Brookings Institute, since 2008, an average of 26.4 million people have been displaced by natural disasters every year. Relocating impoverished communities means that efforts to end poverty slow down and become more complicated, especially in developing countries.

Many impoverished communities live in rural areas where agriculture is their source of sustenance. Climate change can cause droughts, famines and loss of livestock, which causes food and water to become scarce.

A survey of households in India’s Andhra found that in a 25-year span, 12 percent of households became more impoverished, and 44 percent of them cited the weather as the cause.

The poor rural farmers who produce the bare minimum needed to feed their families have few resources as it is. Climate change will lead to more undernourished households.

Sanitation and Water Supply
Climate change jeopardizes the availability of clean drinking water. For example, severe flooding causes damage to drinking water infrastructures, which often take weeks to repair. Climate change also creates an environment where diseases are easily spread. In 2007, floods in Bangladesh resulted in the widespread contamination of tubewells.

More countries are enforcing climate policies in order to slow down global warming. These strategies include policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carbon pricing to reduce emission and phasing out fossil fuel emissions.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization Director-General stated: “The evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health. Solutions exist and we need to act decisively to change this trajectory.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: World Bank, Brookings, WHO
Photo: Pixabay

The United Nations warned on March 22 that increases in energy production through tar sands and fracking for natural gas may serve as a considerable threat to freshwater supplies.

Intensive consumption of freshwater supplies has already caused a concern for water scarcity. Moreover, the global population is expected to rise to eight billion people by the spring of 2024. In the 20th century alone, the world’s population increased from 1.64 billion to 6 billion. To make matters worse, the environmental concerns of a changing climate also make freshwater access more volatile.

The 2014 World Water Development Report on Water and Energy also reported that serious tension between power generation from the fossil fuel industry and environmental considerations will only get worse as time progresses. By 2050, water demand is expected to increase by 55%; however, water use for energy production (through fossil fuel exploitation) is set to increase 20% by 2035.

The report stated that, “Water is used, in varying quantities and ways, in every step of fossil-fuel extraction and processing.” Considering the changes in society coming into the 21st century, the fossil fuel industry has become outdated. Apart from being economically viable in some regards, the pressure that the industry places on the environment goes on to extend to other areas of society, which has sparked considerable public opposition.

For these reasons, the United Nations and most environmental groups assert that a decline in the fossil fuel industry and growth of the renewable energy industry will be necessary for the human race to sustain itself.

Sustainability is becoming more and more necessary over time, and with the expansion of environmentally damaging entities, such as the fossil fuel industry, the problem of climate change might be exacerbated and water resources could become more scarce. Only 3% of all of the water on Earth is from freshwater sources and currently, nearly 1.2 billion people live in areas faced with freshwater scarcity. This number will continue to grow with continued use of large amounts of freshwater within industrial processes.

According to the World Water Development Report, “40[%] of the global population is projected to be living in areas of severe water stress through 2050.”

The issue raises substantial concern for our energy needs. Although our need for energy supply is growing, environmental risks produced by the fossil fuel industry place humanity in a tough position. Though the fossil fuel industry has become considerably active in the political process to be able to sustain itself, the world insists on sustaining the environment moving into the 21st century.

– Jugal Patel

Sources: Common Dreams, Pacific Institute, United Nations, World Odometers
Photo: Money and Markets