As a simple scan of the news reveals, the world is getting hotter and it’s having a devastating impact on our lives.
In England, which is suffering from drought, temperatures can reach as high as 86°F. are breaking recordsWildfires that have erupted up and downThe country are growing in frequency,While the source of the Thames riverAccording to reports, it was the first time that water has run dry in Italy. Italy is experiencing its worst drought in decades. a state of emergencyWhile fires have broken outPalermo and Sicily. 10,000 people fled a wildfire in Southwest France that has been burning since July. Germany record-low water levels in the Rhine threaten to run aground the smooth running of the country’s industry.
The story is closer to home and just as vivid. In KansasJune heatwave in the United States killed so many cattle that thousands of their carcasses were disposed off in a landfill and buried unlined. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationExperts predict this year’s seventh consecutive Atlantic hurricane season above-average. Experts attribute this pattern to climate change.
Information deserts will not be helpful for those seeking to understand the impacts of climate change on the Global South.
The past few months have seen a lot of changes. there has been limited newsReporting on the severe drought in Somalia and less coverage of its recent effects is a common practice. the displacement1,000,000 people. This spring in South AmericaRecord temperatures in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil have severely impacted grain and other crop yields. Not that U.S. readers would find much in-depth mainstream coverage of the problem — this is in stark contrast to coverage of the threats that the war on Ukraine has had on international grain supplies.
It’s not just news coverage that misses the mark — academia has shown similar biasesWhen it comes to acknowledging the effects of the climate crisis upon more vulnerable international communities. This is true for both political attention and economic assistance channels from the north to the south. What’s missed are places that, in the vast majority of cases, are not the primary driversThey are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, but they face the greatest threats from the threat-multiplying effects on a fast warming planet. The ramifications for everyoneHowever, they are enormous.
“The balance of investment from north to south, which is one of the important factors, has been underfunded,” said Sherri Goodman, senior strategist at the Center for Climate and Security, senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Polar Institute and Environmental Change and Security ProgramIn an interview with Truthout. Goodman warned that it is crucial to understand which countries in South Asia need the most help to rectify this imbalance.
“That becomes one of the central elements of diplomacy and development now as we look to survive in a more climate-threatened world,” said Goodman.
“They’re Going to Suffer Greatly”
The drumbeat of focusing more time, attention, and resources on the Global South is becoming louder.
For each piece The Nation during last year’s “Covering Climate Now” series, two prominent figures on the issue, Saleemul Huq and Mark Hertsgaard, observed how the Bangladesh-hosted V20 meeting prior to last November’s United Nations COP26 climate summit — where leaders of low-income countries laid out their positions on climate mitigation before assembled global movers and shakers — received scant media coverage. “The unmistakable, if unwitting, message is that some voices in the global climate discussion count much more than others,” the authors lamented.
ReutersRecently studiedThe academic output and social media presence prominent climate scientists are used to identify the 1,000 most influential. A subsequent analysis of that list found experts from the Global South to be “vastly under-represented,” with only five scientists from Africa included. Carbon BriefThe U.K.-based outlet covering climate science and climate policy, ”, analysed 100 of the most cited climate science papers over the past five years and found the exact same disparity.
Experts such as Goodman see climate impacts through the lenses of global peace, food security, and global peace. “One of the reasons the Northern Triangle of Latin America has been so deeply affected by narco trafficking and eco corruption and loss of livelihoods is in part because climate change is exacerbating underlying problems in society,” she said. If climate change continues on its current trajectory, it could lead to more extreme weather events. it is estimatedOne-third of the 170 million people worldwide will experience malnutrition. Three quarters of the population will be in Africa.
Goodman isn’t the only expert trying this message home. In describing the “existential threat” that climate change poses to the world, former California Gov. Jerry Brown, a well known advocate in the fight against global warming, cites waves and famines across the globe, as well as large swathes that are not equipped to face the realities of rising temperatures.
“There’s going to be political instability,” Brown recently warned the LA Times. “The biggest human rights issue, bar none, is a billion people in India and other parts of the world that are going to suffer because they don’t have nice air conditioning like most Americans have. They’re going to suffer greatly.”
The earlier this year, Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan thinktank, assembled a panel climate science experts to discuss climate change’s impact on Africa and the Global South. They painted a complex picture of human devastation as well as political turmoil.
As an example, Olayinka Ajala, a lecturer in politics and international relations at Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom, pointed to simmering animosity between pastoralist herdsmen who move cattle from one place to another and sedentary farmers — groups that had long peacefully coexisted — in 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ajal explained that sedentary farmers used to plant crops and harvest them. Then, the pastoralists would come in and pick up the rest. The pastoralist herdsmen now have access to farms even before crops have been harvested because of unpredictable rainfall patterns.
When this happens, Ajal said, the herdsmen’s cattle destroy the plants, leading to tensions and conflict. “This has resulted in lots of deaths,” said Ajala. Indeed, between 2020 and 2021, he said, “this conflict resulted in more deaths than terrorism in Africa.”
“The Greatest Market Failure on Earth”
Many stakeholders from the Global South were not able to attend the COP26. ultimately deflatedIt lacked meaningful measures to keep global temperature below the target CO2 levels and inadequate loss and damage funds to help vulnerable communities that are already suffering from the worst effects of climate change. This deficit is best illustrated by the broken promise made back in 2009 by some of the world’s richest nations to deliver $100 billion annually by 2020 to poorer countries.
“The developed world has really been very, very resistant of setting up this loss and damage fund within the [United Nations] UN negotiations because that would imply a legal obligation,” said Vanessa Pérez-Cirera, director of the World Resources Institute’s Global Economics Center, in an interview with Truthout. Indeed, the UN has estimatedClimate adaptation costs alone in the developing world could reach $300 billion annually by 2030 and $500 billion annually by 2050. “Who’s going to pay that?” said Pérez-Cirera.
Though some countries in the Global South have been better able to weather climate-fueled storms — what experts attribute to strong internal governance, institutional stability and international support — many have already been bludgeoned economically. Take Dominica, for example. 2015’s tropical storm Erica wrought damage to the island’s roads, bridges, buildings and farms equivalent to 90 percent of the country’s GDP. “When you think about cases like that, it just puts things into perspective,” said Pérez-Cirera.
As global leaders wonder how to stretch an underfunded piggybank, a central problem can be boiled down to this conundrum: Should developed nations — especially the largest historic emitters of greenhouse gas releases like the U.S. and Europe — prioritize their own emissions reductions, or invest in those vulnerable countries at the brunt end of the climate wrecking ball? It’s been difficult to find agreement and the unwillingness to provide sufficient funding for emission-reduction projects only makes it more difficult.
Ultimately, said Pérez-Cirera, climate-proofing the Global South is a matter of economic sense and moral urgency. Climate change is “the greatest market failure on earth if you think about the basics of economics and capitalism,” said Pérez-Cirera. She added that economists are slowly moving away from a profit motive driven economy. At the end of the day, she said, “we should move to societies that really value life and value equity in a much greater way.”