Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Poorest countries may adapt better to climate change

PhysOrg: A new study involving experts in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham found that the very poor and the relatively wealthy countries are less vulnerable — it was the group in the middle that was most at risk. This unexpected result was found at several different scales and by different members of the research team. They’ve called on policy-makers and NGOs to take their findings into account.

Dr Simon Gosling, who specialises in the impacts of climate change, was one of the authors of the study. He said: “We’re finding a real trade-off between adaptation and development, that’s not to say we should discourage development, but you can’t assume that by promoting it you’re also helping people adapt to climate change. It’s not that traditional is always better, but as people move from traditional to modern they lose things; policy-makers need to think about how to help them make the transition.”

The study highlights areas that are at particular risk of climate-induced crop failures — these include south-eastern South America and the north-eastern Mediterranean.

Dr Gosling said: “You might assume getting richer would always make a country safer from drought and famine, but that turns out not to be the case. Instead, the very poorest countries seem to become more vulnerable in the early stages of development. There’s a crucial period, before the benefits of modernisation start to kick in, when developing countries become more vulnerable to problems like drought than when they started.”...

Walking an unpaved road in India's West Khasi Hills in the district of Meghalaya, shot by Rikynti Marwein, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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