Low-income countries such as Brazil, Bangladesh, India, and those within the sub-Saharan African region as well as island populations seen in and around New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Caribbean, are just some of the nations that are considered “low-income” or “developing” and consist of mainly brown and black populations. These nations are more vulnerable to climate variability as climate change is correlated to the increased magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events. Typically, low-income countries do not have the strongest adaptive capacity or mitigation measures. This reduced capacity is due to a multitude of factors that relate to the lack of financial and technological resources they cannot afford to develop. Developed or higher-income countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and many Western and European nations, are in better positions to afford the adaptation and responses to climatic changes (Mirza). Understanding the socio-economic constraints of developing nations can assist in our understanding of how the local populations will be affected by climate change and how best to ensure effective climate justice can be implemented according to the needs and circumstances of each nation.
Many developing countries have growing industries that are predisposed to heat and climate variability sensitivity. These industries like agriculture and energy are threatened by and have felt the effects of, the upwards trend of global annual temperatures rising. Many developing nations are dependent on the Earth’s natural resources, which result in a higher dependency on industries like agriculture. With the increased variance in weather patterns, severe events, and increased global temperatures, water shortages, soil degradation, and soil/water contamination is a large threat to these industries (Mendelsohn).
“The Stern Report on the Economics of Climate Change predicts that by 2100, in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa, up to 145–220 million additional people could fall below the $2-a-day poverty line, and every year additional 165,000–250,000 children could die compared with a world without rapid climate change.”
When the local soil undergoes degradation, crop yields are reduced and this causes more food scarcity, on top of this, nutrient-deficient soils create nutrient-deficient foods and contribute to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition in the local populations (St.Clair and Lynch).
Disease and Death
Global temperature increases have the potential of increasing the number of people at risk of malaria to more than 150 million people (5% globally) as well as dengue (another mosquito-borne disease) which has seen an upwards trend in transmission rates over the past few decades (“Statistics on Climate Change”). Insect and water-borne diseases have a larger impact on developing countries compared to developed countries, leaving them at a disproportionately higher risk of death due to increased exposure of disease and lack of access to services and healthcare. Pollution-caused health effects and deaths are also higher in developing countries. The graphic shows how generally climate change affects human health, however, developing countries are disproportionately affected by these adverse health effects.
White supremacy is a contributing factor to climate change and is the reason why many developing countries are being disproportionately affected by climate change and related issues. Companies that outsource labour and extraction efforts, with respect to varying levels of intention, are aware of their role in white supremacy. Western, or predominately white, nations do not have to bear the brunt of the adverse effects of the processes they are outsourcing from developing nations. The workers are oftentimes exploited for cheaper labour and surrounding communities are in close proximity to waste disposal and treatment sites that are not regulated, to which many developed nations send their waste to as it is much cheaper comparatively (Marbury; Park). While the Basel Convention treaty is in place to prevent this from happening, it is not legally binding.
What can we do now?
The climate crisis is intrinsically connected to institutionalized racism and the lives of people of colour across the globe. Climate change is a “wicked problem” and it will take solutions from multiple angles to solve it.
- It’s important to not only educate yourself but also your peers. We must break down barriers of understanding and begin to examine the intersections of the climate crisis.
- Racism permeates every aspect of our culture and society, from our education systems to the overarching capitalist institutions, and everything in between. It’s important to recognize this and equip yourself with the knowledge you need to help bring about change.
- On an international scale, we must recognize simple petitions will not be effective. However, locally and nationally pressuring government bodies and mobilizing the people to enact policies and programs to dismantle institutions that disproportionately impact communities here, may prove more effective leading to international action.
- Refer to our post on how marginalized groups are disproportionately affected by climate change and lack of inaction here in Canada to start!
- Marbury, Hugh J. “Hazardous Waste Exportation: The Global Manifestation of Environmental Racism Notes.” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, vol. 28, no. 2, 1995, pp. 251–94.
- Mendelsohn, Robert. “The Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture in Developing Countries.” Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, vol. 1, no. 1, Routledge, Dec. 2008, pp. 5–19. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, doi:10.1080/19390450802495882.
- Mirza, M. Monirul Qader. “Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: Can Developing Countries Adapt?” Climate Policy, vol. 3, no. 3, Taylor & Francis, Jan. 2003, pp. 233–48. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, doi:10.3763/cpol.2003.0330.
- Park, Rozelia S. An Examination of International Environmental Racism Through the Lens of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes. p. 53.
- “Statistics on Climate Change.” MGH Institute of Health Professions, 21 June 2018. www.mghihp.edu, https://www.mghihp.edu/academics-schools-departments-school-nursing-about/statistics-climate-change.
- St.Clair, Samuel B., and Jonathan P. Lynch. “The Opening of Pandora’s Box: Climate Change Impacts on Soil Fertility and Crop Nutrition in Developing Countries.” Plant and Soil, vol. 335, no. 1, Oct. 2010, pp. 101–15. Springer Link, doi:10.1007/s11104-010-0328-z.
- Denchak, Melissa (2018). Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need to Know
- Petition Against Nestle stealing Indigenous water https://www.change.org/p/nestle-canadian-stop-nestl%C3%A9-from-stealing-water-from-indigenous-communities?use_react=false