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The developing world

The unequal effects of climate change

The effects of climate change are likely to felt most severely by those least able to cope with it - people living in developing countries. Yet those who are causing the problem live in developed countries.

Mild effects on the UK

Mild effects on the UK

Farmers in the UK are looking forward to planting vines. An olive grove has been planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew near London. Olive trees should certainly do well as Britain warms up. But those people living in some other countries face a very uncertain future.

Harsh effects on developing countries

Harsh effects on developing countries

Climate change hits the least developed countries badly for several reasons:

  • Geography - their natural geography, climate and soil make them more vulnerable;
  • Agriculture - they are more dependent on agriculture than rich countries and this is strongly affected by climate change;
  • Resources - when disasters, like floods and hurricanes strike, they are more vulnerable because their governments lack the resources to cope.
  • Sea level - Countries such as Bangladesh and the Maldives are very low-lying and vulnerable to small changes in sea level.
  • Scarce water supply - Many parts of Africa depend on increasingly scarce water supplies for drinking and irrigation of crops. We know that N.Africa has suffered from lack of rainfall for decades but it is not yet clear what will happen to the climate and the rainfall in the future. Unexpected floods are a key feature of climate change.
  • Expertise - Africa itself has very few climate scientists and computers powerful enough to run global climate models are difficult to obtain there.
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Developed countries are responsible for causing the problem

Developed countries are responsible for causing the problem

The more developed countries are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases now causing climate change. A tonne of CO2 emitted in one country affects the whole world. This is doubly unfair on those in many of the developing countries because they suffer most from the effects.

Group Discussion
Should ALL countries be obliged to work towards cutting carbon emissions?

In 2009 politicians from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa met politicians from the Group of Eight (G8) countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States). They agreed that developing countries as well as rich countries would have to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Was that fair? Justify your answer.

Developing nations and CO2
China - do we have the right to complain?

Take China as an example. China is a developing country and is rapidly building coal fired power stations. But then look at the labels on electronic goods, shoes and clothes. Many of them are made in China and are very cheap. The Chinese are making them for us.Is it fair for us to tell China to stop building power stations dependent on fossil fuel?

The idea of "environmental stewardship"

The idea of "environmental stewardship"

Sir John Houghton, ex-chairman of Scientific Assessment on the IPCC, explains that Christians relate to Adam and Eve who were the gardeners in the Garden of Eden. Thus humans can be considered as stewards or ‘gardeners' of the world. Sir John wrote:

The responsibilities of developed countries are clear, first to reduce their own emissions as rapidly as possible and secondly to assist developing countries with resources and skills to develop their energy and other requirements in sustainable ways.

Proposed solutions
Competing needs

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Olives on the branch


Winnowing in Ethiopia

Text equivalent:

Managing conflicting interests

If we are to protect the way of life of those in Africa, we may have to change our way of life. How can we tread the line between protecting their way of living and our own? Is this possible or even a good idea?