A study from Stanford published on Earth Day concluded with near certainty that global warming is fueling a global disparity in wealth. Over the past 50 years, global warming has contributed to an approximately 25 percent larger wealth gap between the poorest and wealthiest nations in the world than if global temperatures had remained stable.
The economies of poor countries have been hit the hardest, according to the researchers because they don’t have access to funding and infrastructure that would protect them against the ravages of climate change. Poorer countries also tend to be situated in warmer climes already, so a few extra degrees here or there can push those countries into dire climate emergencies by destroying crops and having detrimental effects on the health of vulnerable members of the population. “We’re not arguing that global warming created inequality,” emphasized a study author to Time Magazine. Rather, global warming is dragging down global efforts to address this disparity in wealth.
A cruel irony behind climate injustice is that the biggest drivers of climate change happen to be some of the wealthiest countries of the world, many of which may actually benefit from the warmer seasons. “The historical data clearly show that crops are more productive, people are healthier and we are more productive at work when temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold,” said another one of the study’s authors in a statement, suggesting that cooler, wealthier countries will experience an economic boost from warmer temperatures.
The global stakes of warming temperatures were discussed yesterday at the Time 100 Summit in New York City. Spanish-American Activist-Chef José Andrés focused on climate change in his talk, describing his commitment to climate action in terms of climate justice.
As the founding father of World Central Kitchen — the not-for-profit that provided free meals to Puerto Rico after Maria and for federal employees during the government shutdown — Andrés spoke of how he wants to alleviate world hunger by expanding residential access to clean energy to billions of people. “Until we don’t end those three billion people stopping cooking with fossil fuels and we give them the same technology we have in our homes — the same clean technology, the same clean gas — so they can feed their families in a clean way, poverty and hunger will never end.”