Climate change vulnerability: Red=high, Blue=low, White=few people….Credit: McGill University
Researcher Jason Samson at McGill University (Ontario, Canada) used sampling and statistical techniques originally designed to study animal migration due to climate change. He reasoned that human populations will also be forced to move (emigration/immigration) for many of the same factors, especially those relating to scarcity of water and food. The result is a map (above) that depicts areas (in red) where the impact of climate change is likely to be greatest. The study is published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography 17 February 2011 [Geographic disparities and moral hazards in the predicted impacts of climate change on human populations]. Not surprisingly, most of these areas tend to be close to the equator in already arid regions. Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of central South America are likely to be affected most as population growth combined with drought is already a serious problem.
Samson points out there are moral ironies in the distribution of vulnerability. In general, the countries with among the least contribution to climate change, Somalia for example, are the most affected. Countries with the most culpability, essentially the industrialized world, are among the least affected.
It’s worth noting that this study presumes global warming will continue and become increasingly significant. In fact, one of the stated purposes for the study is to provide useful information for decision makers in ongoing negotiations related to climate change. Implication: This model expects bad things will happen; decide what is going to be done about it.