By Jon Whiting
Climate change is here, and it will affect every country as it worsens. But the harsh reality is that its effects won’t be felt equally.
The map below highlights that while climate change is caused primarily by rich, technologically advanced nations, its impact will hit the poorest nations hardest. Most European and North American countries are relatively better prepared and less vulnerable to the effects of climate change, while many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East exhibit a dangerous combination of high vulnerability and low preparation.
The map, by the Eco Experts, visualizes data from the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaption Index. The index, published annually since 1995, analyzes 192 countries on 45 internal and external indicators of climate change exposure.
The index is built on two variables: ‘vulnerability’ and ‘readiness,’ for which a country gets a separate mark for each. These scores tally up to produce an overall total indicating how the nation would fare.
The findings highlight the need for richer countries to do more to support poorer nations, helping them prepare for the severe impacts of climate change.
Ultimately, there will be no winners from the effects of climate change. Take, for example, the United States: Despite ranking fairly well in the index, fortifying itself against rising ocean levels could cost more than $1 trillion, according to the U.S. EPA’s sea-level experts. Meanwhile, increased heat waves, droughts and extensive downpours are all expected to wreak havoc on many parts of the country.
Eight out of the top 10 countries considered most at-risk from climate change by the index are located in Africa. Hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts and flooding are all real dangers for some of these areas, and this is compounded by a lack of national strategy to counteract the effects. Chad ranked lowest in the index, suggesting it will be the country hardest hit by climate change.
Seven out the top 10 countries considered least at-risk from climate change, according to the index, are from Europe: Norway ranks at the top and has done so since the index started in 1995. These countries cannot become complacent and must continue to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Image credit: Flickr/markdoliner