2011-03-11 14:51:26Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.229.6

Note - I will be adding the new graphic to the Graphics page but wanted feedback first in case there were suggestions to improve the graphic.

UPDATE: actually, just had the thought, I haven't actually published any article in the Huff Post yet - this might be a good one. I might do a Huff Post version a little differently - maybe just run with the third pic and add a bit of commentary about the skeptic argument "co2 limits will hurt the poor".

Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change

The central question of climate change is, How will it affect humanity? A new study has tackled this question, estimating which regions are most vulnerable to future climate change (Samson et al 2011). The researchers then compared the global map of climate vulnerability to a global map of carbon dioxide emissions. The disturbing finding was that the countries that have contributed the least to carbon dioxide emissions are the same regions that will be most affected by the impacts of climate change.

To estimate the impact of climate change on people, James Samson and his co-authors developed a new metric called Climate Demography Vulnerability Index (CDVI). This takes into account how regional climate will change as well as how much local population is expected to grow. They incorporated this index into a global map and found highly vulnerable regions included central South America, the Middle East and both eastern and southern Africa. Less vulnerable regions were largely in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere.

Figure 1: Global Climate Demography Vulnerability Index. Red corresponds to more vulnerable regions, blue to less vulnerable regions. White areas corresponds to regions with little or no population (Samson et al 2011).

Next, they created a map of national carbon dioxide emissions per capita. They found that it was the countries most severely impacted by climate change that contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions. This presents us with a moral hazard. If those who are emitting the most greenhouse gas are the  least affected by direct global warming impacts, how shall we motivate them to change?

Figure 2: National average per capita CO2 emissions based on OECD/IEA 2006 national CO2 emissions (OECD/IEA, 2008)  and UNPD 2006 national population size (UNPD, 2007).

To clearly communicate this disparity, I've added a new graphic to the Climate Graphics resource: a direct comparison of the polluting countries versus the vulnerable countries. It is quite striking that blue, less-polluting regions in the CO2 emissions map correspond to the red, highly vulnerable areas in the vulnerability map.

2011-03-11 16:21:31
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.83.209

This presents us with a moral hazard. If those who are emitting the most greenhouse gas are least affected by global warming impacts, where lies the motivation for them to change? Are you going to finish it with this line?. Would have more punch.

Does the study have some way of measuring the adaptive ability of nations?, i.e. poor nation are going to be unable to afford the measures adopted by richer ones. Looks like a lot of the broke countries are going to cop it. Mind you at the rate oil is rising maybe we'll all soon be broke.

2011-03-11 16:30:17comments
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

This would be a really good one for HuffPost.

"The central question of climate change is how will it affect humanity?" => Need to either put "how it will affect humanity?" in quotes or remove the question mark.

"The researchers then compared the global map of climate vulnerability..." => You haven't introduced the global map concept yet.  You could just add to the previous sentence that they incorporated their estimates into a map.

"James Samson and his co-authors developed a new metric called Climate Demography Vulnerability Index"

"This presents us with a moral hazard." => moral dilemma, perhaps?

The end is a bit abrupt, it would help to add some sort of conclusion statement.

2011-03-11 16:53:19
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.104.148

"The central question of climate change is how will it affect humanity?"

=> "The central question of climate change is, How will it affect humanity?"

 

===============================================

"Next, they created a map of national carbon dioxide emissions per capita. They found the countries most severely impacted by climate change that contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions."

=>

"Next, they created a map of national carbon dioxide emissions per capita. They found that it was the countries most severely impacted by climate change that contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions."

===============================================

"This presents us with a moral hazard. If those who are emitting the most greenhouse gas are least affected by global warming impacts, where lies the motivation for them to change?"

=>

"This presents us with a problem of incentive: If those who are emitting the most greenhouse gas are the least affected by direct global-warming impacts, how shall we motivate them to change?"

2011-03-11 16:56:38Adaptive ability
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.229.6

It doesn't address adaptability - of course, this is the other profound irony and injustice of climate change, that the countries who contributed least are hit the hardest but have the least ability to adapt.

Will work on a conclusion, wasn't sure where to go with it. Was thinking of perhaps finishing with something like:

This research puts into perspective the skeptic argument "CO2 limits will hurt the poor". This argument is usually code for "we rich, developed countries should be able to pollute as much as we like".

I used "moral hazard" as that was the phrase used by Samson et al.

2011-03-11 18:53:34
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.83.209

Later on, it would be nice to adapt the post into a rebuttal of that "CO2 limits will hurt the poor" crap. 

2011-03-14 19:05:45Here's a simplified Huff Post version with a more fleshed out finish
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.187.101.78

Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change

The central question of climate change is, How will it affect humanity? New research has been published examining this question, estimating which regions are most vulnerable to future climate change (Samson et al 2011). The researchers then compared the global map of climate vulnerability to a global map of carbon dioxide emissions. The disturbing finding was that the countries that have contributed the least to carbon dioxide emissions are the same regions that will be most affected by the impacts of climate change.

To estimate the impact of climate change on people, scientists from McGill University, Montreal developed a new metric called Climate Demography Vulnerability Index (CDVI). This takes into account how regional climate will change as well as how much local population is expected to grow. They incorporated this index into a global map and found highly vulnerable regions included central South America, the Middle East and both eastern and southern Africa. Less vulnerable regions were largely in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere.

Next, they created a map of national carbon dioxide emissions per capita. They found the countries most severely impacted by climate change contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions. It is quite striking that blue, less-polluting regions in the CO2 emissions map correspond to the red, highly vulnerable areas in the vulnerability map.

The study didn't delve into the question of which countries are least able to adapt to the impacts of climate change. But it doesn't take a great leap of the imagination to surmise that the poor, developing countries that emit the least pollution are also those with the least amount of infrastructure to deal with climate impacts. So we are left with a double irony - the countries that contribute least to global warming are both the most impacted and the least able to adapt.

This research put into perspective those who try to delay climate action, arguing that "CO2 limits will hurt the poor". This argument is usually code for "rich, developed countries should be able to pollute as much as they like". This presents us with a moral hazard. If those who are emitting the most greenhouse gas are the least affected by direct global warming impacts, how shall we motivate them to change?

2011-03-14 19:28:41
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.196.118

In the last paragraph, I think the two core points should be reversed. Discuss the skeptic argument and then finish with "This presents us with a moral hazard. If those who are emitting the most greenhouse gas are the least affected by direct global warming impacts, how shall we motivate them to change?". Has a nice symmetry about it. 

I know it's the Huffpost version, but is there anyway to explain what the white areas are without seeming too boffin-like?. 

2011-03-14 19:51:04Australia
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
112.213.158.190

I’m surprised Australia isn’t more vulnerable, given how hot and dry this continent is. Is it because there aren’t many people here?

2011-03-14 20:31:36
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.196.118

James, I think if you look at SE Australia where most of you guys live, it's a different story. I thought the same as you at first, then realized hardly anyone lives in many of the white regions. I was going to ask the same of John about the Amazon, but then I realized, ain't many people there. 

2011-03-15 10:45:33Thanks for the comments
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.187.101.78

Made a few tweaks, sent it off to Huffpost. Will see what they do before I publish on SkS.

This is only my second submission to Huff - the first was Monckton Myths which they didn't publish. Hopefully this will be more successful.

2011-03-17 13:18:42Published on Huff Post
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.187.101.78

Finally published today:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-cook/those-who-contribute-the-_b_835718.html

Will publish this as an SkS blog post later today.