Wednesday 2 February 2011

Heat Map

The 'heat map' below was published in the Economist in November 2010, around the time of the UNFCCC COP16 in Cancun. (You may need to click on it to see a bigger version)

What is so striking about this map is that those who seem to have the most power to act on Climate Change are those who will be least/most pleasantly affected by temperature rises (namely the wealthy, fossil fuel hungry American states and although temperatures will rise in the American South, they are quite willing to discount this to 'protect their liberty' now - see this weeks BBC Climate Sceptics Storyville) - so where is their motivation to act? Meanwhile, those who will suffer the most, are those least empowered to do something about it and those to poor to be able to cope with the consequences. According to the Science article from which this graphic is lifted, the biggest impact will be on Food Security and this is perhaps where the motivation will come from. It will become increasingly difficult to grow food in the tropics as today's extreme high temperatures become tomorrow's norm. Without Climate Change the growth in population in the less developed world already places a great strain on food production, by 2050 the population of the world could be as high as 10 billion. Much of the food (and flowers) we buy in our super-chilled supermarkets are flown in from the tropics. By 2050, we made need to start flying it the other way.

Alternatively what might happen is this, we will realise that we can't rely on the tropics to grow our food and the cost of transporting it will rise dramatically as Oil peaks. This will combine to motivate us to grow our food locally (transition town style). But, will we set up the infrastructure needed to transport surplus food to the less developed world where it will be so badly needed? Will we bollocks, we can't even do that now, we'll eat/waste it all ourselves, protect our liberty and further global inequality. The poorest countries will most probably be left to grow biofuels to run the cars and power plants of the rich elite, using the money earned (which will amount to pennies after the developed world owned biofuels companies have taken their profits) to buy in scraps of corn and grain to malnourish themselves with.

Thanks to Leo Hickman for posting this map on Twitter.

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