Climate change could deepen poverty in developing countries

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Washington, August 20 (ANI): A new study has determined that climate change could deepen poverty in developing countries.

In the study, a team led by Purdue University researchers examined the potential economic influence of adverse climate events, such as heat waves, drought and heavy rains, on those in 16 developing countries.

Urban workers in Bangladesh, Mexico and Zambia were found to be the most at risk, as the cost of food drives them into poverty.

"Extreme weather affects agricultural productivity and can raise the price of staple foods, such as grains, that are important to poor households in developing countries," said Noah Diffenbaugh, the associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and interim director of Purdue's Climate Change Research Center.

"Studies have shown global warming will likely increase the frequency and intensity of heat waves, drought and floods in many areas. It is important to understand which socioeconomic groups and countries could see changes in poverty rates in order to make informed policy decisions," he added.

The team used data from the late 20th century and projections for the late 21st century to develop a framework that examined extreme climate events, comparable shocks to grain production and the impact on the number of impoverished people in each country.

"The occurrence and magnitude of what are currently the 30-year-maximum values for wet, dry and hot extremes are projected to substantially increase for much of the world," said Diffenbaugh.

"Heat waves and drought in the Mediterranean showed a potential 2700 percent and 800 percent increase in occurrence, respectively, and extreme rainfall in Southeast Asia was projected to potentially increase by 900 percent," he added.

In addition, Southeast Asia showed a projected 40 percent increase in the magnitude of the worst rainfall; central Africa showed a projected 1000 percent increase in the magnitude of the worst heat wave; and the Mediterranean showed a projected 60 percent increase in the worst drought.

A statistical analysis was used to determine grain productivity shocks that would correspond in magnitude to the climate extremes, and then the economic impact of the supply shock was determined.

Future predicted extreme climate events were compared to historical agricultural productivity extremes in order to assess the likely impact on agricultural production, prices and wages.

According to Thomas Hertel, a distinguished professor of agricultural economics and co-leader of the study, "Food is a major expenditure for the poor and, while those who work in agriculture would have some benefit from higher grains prices, the urban poor would only get the negative effects." (ANI)

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