Even If Climate Change Doesn’t Affect You, It Will Still Affect You

Moody’s Analytics recently released a climate change report that’s a useful corrective to some of the skeptics who say that global warming isn’t really all that dangerous. Taken in isolation, the point they make is roughly correct: in economic terms, the effect of climate change on the United States isn’t likely to be too horrible. Most assessments put it at less than 1 percent of GDP by 2100.

But that misses an important point: the global north will suffer the least from climate change and has the most economic resources to deal with it best. Moody’s estimates go only through 2048, but here are their country-by-country estimates in map form:

And here are the effects on the largest populations of the world:

The countries in blue are in the global north. The countries in red are in the global south. And this is only through 2048. By 2100 these effects will double or triple if we don’t seriously address rising temperatures.

If you’re anything close to a decent human being, you want to do something about this. The global north is responsible for the bulk of global warming but it’s the global south that will pay the biggest price. This is, obviously, not right.

But even if you’re a hyper-nationalist who just doesn’t care about India or the Philippines, these numbers should still scare you. The effect of climate change on the global south will be severe enough to cause droughts, wars, and massive migrations that will inevitably affect us too. There’s just no way to seal ourselves off from this. Even the (relatively) minor mass migration from Syria a few years ago was enough to send Europe into a panic and move its politics in a noticeably authoritarian direction. And that was nothing compared to what’s coming.

In other words, even if you’re not a decent human being, you really ought to take climate change seriously. You may not be interested in climate change, but it’s very definitely interested in you.

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