The last three decades have witnessed historic development. In 1983, there were fewer than 4.7 billion people on the planet; 2023 has seen us pass the 8 billion threshold. While the population has increased, so too have the world’s living standards. In 1990, 38 per cent of the world lived in extreme poverty. Since then, that number stands at 8 per cent. The question then becomes whether climate change will reverse the long-term trend of global poverty reduction. Mr Chandy posits that it will not.
Defining Deprivation and Insecurity
Historically, the limiting factor in global development has always been “deprivation”. That is, households, communities, and governments all lacked the resources required to meet basic needs and enable their populations to thrive. In the vast majority of the world, access to resources is no longer the issue, but instead, the issue is insecurity. Shocks are happening more and more frequently on a global and local scale due to climate change; these households/communities/governments do not all have the ability to protect the resources they have accumulated. Since 2012, the share of people in the world living in extreme poverty has continued to fall, albeit at a slower rate than it did from 1992-2012. At the same time, the shares of people facing severe food insecurity—that is, having run out of food or been forced to go without meals for a day or more—and requiring life-saving humanitarian support have both been trending up. Since 2018, the share of people facing severe food insecurity has exceeded the share living under the global poverty line.
Deprivation and insecurity are definitely related. Extreme poverty seems to be temporary in nature. In Africa, for example, temporary poverty is 50 per cent more common than chronic poverty. In 2010, 97 million people (roughly 1.4 per cent of the world’s population at that time) were forced into extreme poverty because of health spending. Experts predict that the number of people remaining in extreme poverty will be 32 to 132 million higher because of the effects of climate change. That said, Mr Chandy states that throwing more populations into poverty may not turn out to be client change’s most impactful change. What climate change should do, however, is force us to reassess the indicators we have for progress/development/etc. Perhaps extreme poverty is no longer the standard by which we should measure global initiatives.
Up Next: Consequences for International Security