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Of human frailty; how susceptible are we to the dangers of climate change?

By Nicolette Smith - 07 Mar 2011 18:33:0 GMT
Of human frailty; how susceptible are we to the dangers of climate change?

Climate change-related headlines always carry with them a terrible sense of impending doom, and the latest news is no more palatable than the rest. The latest developments highlight the fact that the populations least responsible for the problem of Global Warming are taking the most significant environmental hit.

A PDH Candidate - Jason Samson - from McGill University's Department of Natural Resource Sciences has had the bright idea of using equipment typically employed to monitor the migratory responses of animal and plant-life where climate change destabilises their environment, to monitor human behaviour under the same conditions.

The equipment used is designed to monitor how climate change influences the migratory patterns of animals and plants where a sudden or gradual climatory change affects the food chain, upsets ecological harmony and fractures the fragile balance of the eco-system. Samson combined the data relating to climate change with information from the national census (covering an estimated 97% of the world's population) to track movements, gauge reactions and predict future trends.

Samson, along with a team of fellow researchers, ascertained that if the world's population continues to grow at the current rate, by 2050 the parties most grievously affected by Global Warming will be those living in low-latitude, high-temperature areas such as Africa, South Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Samson said of his investigation: "It makes sense that the low latitude tropical regions should be more vulnerable because the people there already experience extremely hot conditions which make agriculture challenging. An increase in temperature over the next few decades will only make their lives more difficult in a variety of ways."

Essentially what this means is that those areas currently identified by their warm, humid climate will be particularly affected by a seemingly slight change in climate; these regions are disproportionately impacted by even the smallest changes in temperature, and the population will most likely be especially disturbed by future climate change.

The results of Samson's study showed that, while areas typically associated with hot, tropical climates will be severely affected, those high-latitude areas which currently have a milder, less temperate climate will experience an even greater upwards shift in temperature.  Because the cooler climates of high-latitude regions have something of an inhibitive effect on the migratory population; by 2050, migration in these areas will increase as those living in these countries find the weather more permitting of a transient lifestyle.

And of the contributory factors relating to climate change? As theorised, those countries which are the least responsible for Global Warming are those most likely to be adversely impacted by future climatory changes. Samson explained: "Take Somalia for instance, because it's so hot there, it's already very difficult to grow things, and it will only become more difficult if the temperature rises. It's also clear that Somalia is not a big contributor of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Now thanks to this map, we have concrete quantitative evidence of the disparity between the causes and the consequences of climate change at a national level."

Hopefully, these findings can be used as leverage when it comes to national and political responsibility for greenhouse emissions, poor environmental contributions and accountability reducing our carbon footprint.