What follows just might be the most succinct, elegant summary of global warming’s impacts ever created.
Created by DARA, a humanitarian research outfit, the 2010 Climate Vulnerability Monitor is a sprawling model that predicts, for every country in the world, the impacts of global warming in 2030. It’s meant to serve as a guide to areas in crucial need of aid, and in so-doing, highlights a stark tragedy: Those who emit the most will suffer least, meaning the world’s great powers have little incentive to address the problem.
Consider, for example, Africa, which has the lowest per capita carbon emissions in the world. DARA’s chart looks at four different areas of climate impact: Health, which can suffer due to rises in Malaria and other diseases; weather, such as severe storms; habitat, which covers populated lands under threat; and farming, which can be devastated by desertification and shifting weather patterns.
Those four areas are represented by an icon of a heart, a hurricane, a house, and a grain silo. The bigger and redder the corresponding dot, the worse things are. Impacts are divided into present day and a projection for 2030. What you see is that almost no region of Africa won’t be severely affected:
Asia, meanwhile, fares a bit better — but again, it’s the most economically vibrant countries, such as Japan and Australia, which escape the worst impacts:
Europe does a little better still — in fact, only Eastern Europe is under dire threat. Western Europe, meanwhile, is relatively unscathed:
Which brings us home. While America doesn’t have quite the rosy outlook as Western Europe, we’re surrounded by countries who can only envy how well we’ll fare:
Obviously, all of these projections are likely to change as the effects of global warming become manifest over time. But at the very least, you can think of these maps of climate impact as a roadmap to political discourse in twenty years’ time: As countries are affected unequally by global warming, the primary concerns of all nations might splinter radically, between the fortunate and the forlorn.
For more, download the Climate Vulnerability Monitor’s various reports, including an in-depth look at their statistical methodology.