Climate Change Not Just on the Minds of the Wealthy

By Melissa Lafsky | July 28, 2008 4:03 pm

hummerConcern for global warming is often portrayed as a “rich” problem, accompanied by images of moguls throwing pricey fund raisers and Hollywood stars trading in their Hummers to ease their eco-conscience while the poor worry about corn prices and drought. It’s true that richer countries have plenty of cause to be penitent: The average American’s annual carbon footprint — 20.4 tons — is about 2,000 times that of a citizen of Chad. But a new study in The Sociological Quarterly found that citizens of poorer nations are in fact just as concerned about the environment as their wealthier counterparts.

The study, authored by Riley E. Dunlap of Oklahoma State University and Richard York of the University of Oregon, consisted of a comparison of four large cross-national surveys that were conducted in nations ranging from very poor to very wealthy. The surveys included a representative sample of citizens from each nation.

The authors found that citizens of poorer nations were equally if not more worried about the environment than people in wealthier countries, and were highly supportive of efforts to solve environmental problems.

So why the popular underrepresentation of poorer nations’ concern for global warming? The authors think that previous studies failed to acknowledge how much environmental problems immediately threaten the material welfare of the poor—i.e., an issue like deforestation directly threatens the livelihoods of people who depend on forests for firewood and food sources, as well as indirectly harming them through contributing to climate change.

Their hypothesis makes sense, but is also likely just a part of a larger issue: The carbon footprint of the world’s 1 billion poorest people is estimated to represent three percent of the global total, but it’s the poor who are most likely to feel the worst affects of climate change—storms, famine, drought—while remaining the least able to cope with them.

Image: iStockPhoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate Change
MORE ABOUT: drought, poverty, wealth

Comments (63)

  1. DSK

    the rich countries like US and UK can afford a little bit of environmental inconvinience, because they have more money and resources. Unlike us whos economy is agriculture based and is more dependant on environmental stabitity. Global warming will effect everything from drinking water to availability of food and land in my country,which is Sri Lanka

  2. RICK BADMAN

    America is known for big ideas that change the world and big projects. One of the biggest in the future might be the Sahara Reservoir. It would be the largest body of fresh water in the world. The desert would be excavated with plasma excavation equipment down to 200 meters below sea level with the sand being turned into glass which could be used around the world for many purposes. It would take decades to excavate and cost trillions of dollars. But the world benefits would be a lower sea level by maybe two meters and a lower average temperature with mainly water instead of sand being in North Africa.

    Another massive project would be the world underground water network that would be hollowed out by plasma drilling moles. Enough water could be stored underground and piped around to prevent floods and droughts. In the United States, the system located under nearly every state could hold more water than the Great Lakes and supply over half a billion people with water. In Asia, the monsoons could fill the reservoirs and the flooding and drought problems may be relieved.

    I’ve been a proponent of flywheel storage systems for over 38 years. If stacked flywheels that are totally sealed to prevent the leakage of the vacuum from the two flywheel chambers located above and below the motor/generator that would have its armature either liquid cooled or air cooled and either rock quartz or one of my ultra-stressed crystalline molecular solid materials are used for the flywheels with magnetic bands girdling them that are facing magnetic bands inside the walls of the vacuum chambers to produce a repulsive linear induction effect are used, it may be possible to kinetically store the equivalent of 100 watt-hours of energy per cubic inch of material. If this is possible and the flywheels can be respun up to speed at least 10,000 times without flying apart, a sedan with twin stacked units with a total storage capacity of 10,000 cubic inches of flywheels, it would be possible to drive nonstop from New York City to Chicago. Even planes could use flywheels and go farther and faster with a spaceplane which uses a compression-field engines able to fly from a conventional airport out into space without needing a mother ship or rocket engines since the compression field engines would become repulsion drive engines out in space. NASA should look into flywheels or maybe my injection reactor and compression field engines to be used for the craft that replaces the space shuttle.

    Plasma burners for coal plants could allow them to use water as a fuel too and plasma igniters in cars instead of spark plugs may allow cars to run on water as a fuel too since the hydrogen and oxygen would be split to provide the fuel and oxidizer. So maybe researchers ought to look into high-temperature plasma systems instead of fuel cells if they want to use hydrogen as a fuel. It would be a lot cheaper to fill up your primary tank with water from a garden hose than gas from a gas hose. The secondary tank that would start the engine and sustain it until the water can become fuel could hold maybe 5 gallons and need to be filled once every month depending on how many times you drive and how many times you need to start the car.

    We will need petroleum as long as it is still relatively cheap. If the car companies have rejected flywheel research for over half a century and plasma research hasn’t come along far enough, we will need to use oil and coal for the foreseeable future. Converting to alternative sources now and eliminating the use of fossil fuels plus promoting strict conservation would make as much sense as replacing the carriage horses in Central Park with starving poodles.

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