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Why Poor and Developing Nations are Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

Despite they contribute the least to climate change

Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

To understand why the poor nations are most affected by global climate change, we need to understand what climate change is.

What is Climate Change?

In simple terms, it refers to a long-term increase in Earth’s overall temperature for various reasons. Since the dawn of the industrial age, the human race has been burning lots of fossil fuels for energy. Human activities from pollution to population are driving up the Earth’s temperature. Heat energy from Sun enters Earth’s atmosphere. Some of the energy is absorbed by the Earth and the rest is reflected back. Greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide, Water Vapors, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and, Chlorofluorocarbons traps this energy which would otherwise reflect into space. Therefore, the average temperature on Earth goes up.

How is human civilization responsible for this?

To meet the manufacturing and feeding needs of 7 billion people, the manufacturing industry has huge energy requirements. Most of the energy is obtained by burning fossil fuels. These fossil fuels when burned produce greenhouse gases. Also to feed 7 billion humans, the forest is being bulldozed at a rate of 7 football fields every minute. (Yes, you read that right per minute. More about this here. UN Deforestation report). These lands are used for animal farms and feed for animals.

In return, humans depend upon these animals for meat and dairy. Plants absorb carbon dioxide. Deforestation to build animal farms and crops has a cascading effect: Animal waste produces methane in the air. In the US 80% of methane emission is from animal waste. In order to get an idea of how big of a problem is this, understand that 56 billion animals are raised globally for food. Land used for growing animal feed is about 30% of the landmass on Earth.

So why are poor nations the most vulnerable despite contributing less?

  • By 2030, developing nations will need 75 billion US dollars annually to protect against the effects of climate change. Since developing nations will not have such amount of funds, they will suffer the most.
  • Climate change, as a result, causes extreme weather conditions. Poor countries where there is no proper infrastructure will be affected the most by hurricanes, floodings, and other natural disasters. (Read more about this here).
  • The melting of massive water bodies, for example, Himalayas, is causing scarcity of drinking water. Take the example of South Asia, which is predominantly poor. Himalayan glaciers are the only water source for this region and it is rapidly melting, causing floodings and a short supply of water for drinking and agricultural purposes in the region. This region has a population of around 1.9 billion, which is 30% of the world’s population.
Photo by Jeff Ackley on Unsplash

Despite contributing less to global warming, developing nations are the most vulnerable. Green and renewable energy is the only way out. Fossil fuel needs to be banned around the world.



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Nazia Akhtar

Nazia Akhtar

Born in Hunza and moved to New York for education and then Toronto for work. NYU 2018