Most Vulnerable, Least Culpable

Jan 11 2013 @ 5:37pm

David Roberts digs up an old paper [pdf] on the relationship between temperature fluctuations and economic growth in different countries and considers its implications:

Data from the past can tell us something important: countries’ baseline vulnerability to heat… Normal heat fluctuations hurt poor countries but not rich countries. Why? Part of it is that poor countries are more dependent on agriculture, which is sensitive to heat. But the biggest reason is access to energy, or more specifically, something wealthy countries take for granted: air conditioning. It’s hard to exaggerate the effect air conditioning has had in unlocking economic growth. (Of course, burning coal to air-condition buildings also accelerates climate change, so, ha ha, irony!)

Poor countries… are getting screwed right here and now. And they will get screwed harder and harder in coming years, suffering the effects of carbon emissions for which they are not responsible.