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The role of poverty and inequality in exacerbating the impacts of climate change-related disasters

Climate change is one of the most significant changes rapidly threatening not only to mankind but the whole planet earth. Instead of regular weather patterns it is now leading to unpredictable weather patterns. Greenhouse gases emissions, environmental degradation, rise in sea levels can be witnessed by humanity itself. The sudden and slow-onset disasters, the most severe acute and chronic impacts cause human's suffering. Increasing numbers of hot days with maximum temperature will surely make the lands dry. The climate events floods, droughts, and cyclones are becoming more frequent, causing widespread damage to infrastructure, also the loss of life is increasing due to climate change. Climate change is a matter that can be a terrible reason for causing deaths.

In recent decades unmanaged climate change threatens people who come below poverty or are from poorest nations. These people directly depend on goods and services from the surroundings, from the environment either as a primary or supplementary source of food, fuel, building materials or the fodder. Majority of people living in poverty rely on agricultural yields and natural resources. People living in poverty, their geographical and climatic conditions, their high dependency on natural resources and their limited capacity to adapt to climate change are adverse. It would be no mistake to say that these are the most vulnerable and are the most marginalised population who live in the most hazardous areas. They live in the open wide areas or in the coastal regions their livelihoods directly depend on climate resources. In wide exposure, the sun is beating down directly on the surface which becomes unbearable. In June heat waves made the areas more hot and asphalt, concrete as well as lack of Trees are itself a big threat to them. Increasing temperatures, number of hot days and the heat index are the collective evidence suggesting that the warming over the past fifty years is mostly attributed to human activities. “Climate crisis directly hit the poorest countries and the people as they used to be more exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

The world bank says climate change can push an additional 68 to 135 million people into poverty by 2030. In several ways climate change hits the people living in poverty.

FOOD PRODUCTION : Climate change makes it harder to produce food. Severe droughts and floods impact crop production globally, and reduce the availability of food. It decreases agricultural productivity. When crop yield decreases the families living in poverty leads to food insecurity and further exacerbates hunger.

ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER OR WATER SCARCITY : Water scarcity is already a major problem for the world's poor people. Around 5 billion people are likely to be impacted by water scarcity upto 2025. Melting glaciers is a serious concern which is leading with floods and the rise in sea levels and soon becoming the biggest reason for reducing the availability of drinking water. Climate change made water access even more difficult by causing more frequent droughts, increased evaporation, and changes in rainfall patterns.

DISPLACEMENT AND MIGRATION : Climate change induced events as rise in sea level, or extreme weather force people to migrate. Indigenous people are at greatest risk of displacement. Communities in Droughts, floods or due to lack of food availability have no choices rather than leaving their homes and communities.

HEALTH RISKS : Climate change has a direct impact on increasing illness and diseases. Impoverished communities lack proper medical infrastructure making them more susceptible to climate induced diseases and heat related illness. Vector borne diseases such as Malaria, Dengue fever or diarrhoea which expose people of poor communities to higher health risks.

LIMITED ACCESS TO RESOURCES : Poverty is closely linked to reduced climate resilience and increased exposure to risk, for example due to limited financial capacity and education, as well as when families lose their incomes, their food or water sources, it gets difficult for them to provide education to their children. They prohibited their children from school and often kept them home to help to grow food, look after livestock or earn money. During crises they rely on whatever they have accumulated after years of hard work.

Inequality has been a persistent issue in climate change. The distribution of resources, opportunities, and privileges within a society represents inequality. Inequality exacerbates climate change in both its causes and its impacts.

The richest half of the world is responsible for 86% of Greenhouse gases emissions whereas the poorest half is just 14%.

The 10% of higher emitters are responsible for 50% of emissions and 50% of lower emitters are responsible only for 10% of World's emissions. Most of the problems originate with rich consumers, mostly with rich countries but the consequences will be felt hourly in poor countries for two reasons.

The poor countries are in places where it's already hot and the effect of temperature both on human health and on productivity are not linear hence, there would be a big difference going from 28 centigrade to 30 and from 30 centigrade to 32 there is the record of many more hot days on the places which are already warm and the poor countries according to map of climate projection

The Richer a person is, the more ability the person has to find ways to adapt to climate change. If it is very hot the richer people will turn on their air conditioners. Mortality costs are relatively low in rich countries or with the rich people for the same high or very high temperature.

Climate change deepening inequalities within countries and also stratified international relations. The people living in the same floodplain, the houses constructed of flimsy materials are more susceptible to damage from flood than the houses made of sturdy materials. While in an arid area, having air conditioning is less susceptible to health damages from excessive heat than those who do not have such facilities.

Paris climate conference, COP21, countries committed to setting a goal of at least US $ 100 billion per year for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries by the developed countries.


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