Flooding in Bangladesh could become more common as global temperatures rise.Credit: Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto/Getty
Topics: Climate Change, Economics, Human Rights, Politics, Star Trek
A change of two words from a 2nd season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Up the Long Ladder" involving cloning and differences in cultures: clones versus agrarians, the sophisticated versus the barbaric. This plot is not too far from the mark, just without fantastic starship warp drives. It is peering down a long ladder from Asgard to Hades; from the Third Heaven to Purgatory. It is the aftermath of centuries of stratification of humanity. To invoke Jeanine Hill Fletcher from Friday's post (quoting Perkinson), it is: "a great grinding witch tooth, sucking blood and tearing flesh... without apology."
Nations such as Bangladesh and Egypt have long known that they will suffer more from climate change than will richer countries, but now researchers have devised a stark way to quantify the inequalities of future threats.
A map of "equivalent impacts", revealed at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) this month in Vienna, shows that global temperatures would have to rise by a whopping 3 °C before most people in wealthy nations would feel departures from familiar climate conditions equal to those that residents of poorer nations will suffer under moderate warming.
The Paris climate agreement, adopted by 195 countries in 2015, aims to limit the rise in global mean temperature to 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels. The world has already warmed by one degree or so — and since 1900, the mean number of record-dry and record-wet months each year has also increased.
But the effects of global warming are uneven, and poor regions in the tropics and subtropics are thought to be most vulnerable, for several reasons. They have limited financial resources with which to prepare for shifts in temperature and precipitation, and they are expected to face bigger changes in climate than countries in the mid-latitudes. Researchers have had difficulty quantifying those inequalities because the impacts of climate change depend on many factors, such as future economic growth and technological progress, which are hard to forecast.
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