Climate change has emerged as one of the most important problems facing the world today. Unless immediate preventive action is taken on the issue, Climate Change will continue to pose a serious threat to the fight against poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Poor people are generally the most vulnerable when it comes to coping with the effects of climate change. This is largely due to the fact that the Poor live in areas more prone to flooding, cyclones, droughts, etc., and they have limited capacity to respond to the effects of natural disasters. Potential increase in natural disasters and drought may require children to engage more in household errands, leaving them limited or no time for schooling. Malnourishment and disease may also interfere with the education of the youth. Direct effects of climate change also include increases in mortality and illness rates associated with heat waves, particularly among the elderly and the urban poor.
What’s more, global warming is likely to shift ecosystem boundaries. The decline in the quantity and quality of drinking water and detoriating natural resource productivity may lead to food scarcity and malnutrition, causing ill health. Degradation of biodiversity will also reduce the availability of many traditional medicines. This will affect the Poor in rural areas, who depend more on natural resources for medicine as well as for income and food.
Written by Zeynep Basak 2008. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the author's permission.