Friday, August 1, 2014

Swimming's Climate Series: Poverty and Climate Change

Greetings fair readers!

This will be a short post primarily to expand on what was published by the World Bank this week.

Per the World Bank this week “We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change.”
This is a startling truth that resonates deeply with my own concerns of how climate change affects our health. A reader's digest summary is this: as countries increase their carbon emissions, the planet gets warmer. This results in melting of the polar ice caps causing flooding, prolonged elevated temperatures causing droughts, and increased carbon dioxide in the oceans. What does this mean for poverty? Well the hardest hit countries are the poorest countries. Along with floods comes water-borne diseases. At the UN, I met Dr. Manoj Kurian (manager of the International AIDS Society) that put it best "Viruses don't need visas." Poor countries are already combatting their own health issues and are now becoming even more burdened with foreign vector-borne diseases from increased flooding that carry these critters across borders.

As far as droughts go, it's quite obvious that the hardest hit global regions are the ones where (1) the countries are affected more by droughts and (2) the countries' primary GDP stems from agriculture. Typically, countries whose primary GDP is coming from agriculture are also lacking another sustainable and dominant industry to add to the GDP. Droughts are affecting crops and the economy of these areas (ie India, Guatemala etc...) this results in malnourishment of the citizens. Another effect is increased suicide from depression. Droughts of crops are oftentimes the sole income/livelihood of farming families. After months and even years of droughts many of the farmers in these countries have an increased incidence of mental illness and suicide.

I've run out of time, but at some point I shall elaborate on this topic and include more references.  For now though, just chew on how you can decrease your carbon footprint and help not only yourself and your community, but also generate a global impact.

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