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Taking the Heat:
The Effect of Global Climate Change
on the Poor
Ashley Wells
ENGR 314
What’s the Issue?
“The big challenges of the 21st century are overcoming world poverty and
managing climate change and we succeed or fail on those two together.”
~Nicholas Stein, Professor at Loudon School of Economics
Why Do the Poor Feel Change the Most?
Geography (coastal plains and current environment)
Direct dependence on surroundings for food and water
Inability to adjust because of cost
Effects in Africa
• Walking longer distances for
• Extreme annual drought for an
already dry continent
• Heat increase
• Inconsistent and little to no
• Malnutrition and starvation
• Increased number of livestock
• Increased mortality
• Country strained economically;d=1
Drought of 2009
•In January, the government declared a national state of emergency due
to the failed harvest.
•This declaration allowed the government to divert funds from other
programs to buy food for the people.
•The planned response:
•Giving out free fertilizer, seed, and farm equipment.
•Giving the poor in urban communities and areas directed affected
by drought
•The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) fed over 2 million people
Effects in India
• Increasingly worse flooding
• Large floodplains cover most
vital and fertile land.
• Coastal plains now under more
frequent and stronger cyclones
and tornados
• Erratic rainfall
• Sea level rising
• Displacement
• Death of people, crops and
• Economic strain,1518,480847-2,00.html;d=1
Rising Sea Levels
•The lives of the people of
Bangladesh are fully dependent
on the resources from the Bay
of Bengal.
•The Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change predicates
that sea levels in the Bay will
rise 45 cm by the year 2050.
•80% of the inhabitants of
Bangladesh live in the delta
and floodplain area, which is
only 1 meter above sea level.;d=1
Effects in South America
• Approx. 80 million South
Americans depend on the
glaciers in the Andean
Mountains for water.
• Increased heat and climate
change disrupts the natural
freezing and melting of
precipitation. As a result, what
used to be a natural irrigation
system and water supply no
longer stores water.
• Lack of water
• Failed crops;d=1
Solidarity: Relationships with Developed
and Developing Countries
Per Capita CO2 Emissions
Average Kenyan – 300 kg/year
Average European – 10 tons/year
Average American – 20 tons/year
At the UN Climate Change Conference there are
approximately 100 countries (home to 1 billion) present
that are responsible for less than 3% of the CO2
emissions. These are the countries that feel the effect of
the other 97%!
This has a strong effect on the relationships between
developed and undeveloped countries
“If we do not accept that we are interconnected, we are doomed.”
~Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, South Africa
Negotiations for how this is to be balanced have already begun.
Developed countries are now discussing how to prevent increasing
What aid can be given to help developing countries adapt to the
effects of our actions
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
states that this negotiation will be the focus at COP15 in
“Solidarity is also an authentic moral virtue, not a
‘feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the
misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On
the contrary, it is a firm and preserving determination
to commit oneself to the common good. That is to
say to the good of all and of each individual, because
we are all really responsible for all.”
-Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, part I, c. 4, paragraph 193