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Mac Keers

The article presents an interesting problem, which is that we may not be able to stem climate change quickly enough to protect individuals in the countries that will be most adversely affected. Although it would be nice to think that the developed world could forward policies to help these poorer nations, especially considering that they are shouldering undue burdens, it is not entirely likely. The question then becomes, can we more effectively/rapidly help them to develop to a point where they could at least deal with some climate change or should we focus on decreasing our carbon emissions to a point where the effects will not be as severe. The obvious answer is that we should do both but the last few decades have demonstrated an inability to do either. This has become even more of a problem recently in the wake of China and India’s development. The problem with asking them to slow down or adopt green initiatives is that they are being asked these things by countries who were allowed to fully develop without these costly policies. This makes the carbon emission slowdown seem a tad challenging. Perhaps then, CO2 emissions need to be worked on but we should put an equal amount of thought into helping countries develop in a way that will make adjusting to climate change easier. One obvious way would be to increase the efficiency of their farming. One of the points that the article made was that water scarcity would begin to be a problem. One way to help alleviate that would be making water more efficient by decreasing the amount of farmland necessary to feed people in various less wealthy countries.

Although we may be able to help countries simply “deal with it,” we should not excuse ourselves from a responsibility to slow CO2 emissions and hopefully prevent climate change before it becomes catastrophic.


This article touches on the disproportionate effects of climate change on the poor. Due to the lack of resources and the conditions in which they live, low-income individuals are less likely to protect themselves from environmental externalities than the rich. Additionally, as highlighted in the article, the impact of climate change will be significantly larger in the tropics, where most poor countries are located, than in other regions. Therefore, the poor in poor countries will face a double burden due to their own situations and due to the specific situations of their countries. They are bearing the highest cost and getting the least benefit from it (compared to people in developed countries), yet they have the least power to do something and implement environmentally sustainable policies. In contrast, developed countries have the resources and capabilities to act and reverse future detrimental effects from climate change, but because they are not bearing as much of the cost from environmental damage as the poor are (at least in the present), they have less incentives to take action. As a result, although environmental efforts have gained some support, they have not received enough of it to truly take larger-scale and effective actions needed to reverse future environmental consequences.

Bayan Misaghi

In high school the AP Environmental Science curriculum uses global climate change as a paradigm to teach students about the world’s ecosystems. It compares our current world to a pre-industrial revolution world to worlds that are warmer. Required reading for my high school’s class was a book called Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, which walks the reader through the successive deterioration of the world one degree Celsius at a time.

The class was full of the students one would think of: nature-lovers and activist-types. At the time, I had no idea that I would major in economics in college, but I wish that the theme of our environment as a public endowment / the world’s wealth would have been emphasized. Unfortunately, environmentalists have been stereotyped as people concerned with obscure species at risk of extinction and conservation for the sake of preserving natural beauty. While these may provide different relative levels of utility to individuals across the political spectrum, everyone no matter their ideology uses natural resources and can agree that their utilities would significantly decline if these resources were highly scarce. A pillar to environmentalism is sustainability—the use of environmental resources to ensure robust regrowth/repair and future use—and the idea is finally (over the last 10 years) gaining momentum as the primary marketing tool to promote environmentalism.

A prominent branch of the environmentalist movement is actually selfish. It focuses on how to optimize the current and future uses of the environment to promote humanity and development. A world that is 4 degrees warmer as pointed out in this article and in my Environmental Science class would be far from this optimization.

Lizzie Weston

This article brings up very important issues pertaining to the environment and climate change. These projections are modeled after situations in which the world warms by 2 or 4 degrees Fahrenheit. According to CNN, we are already on course in increase the temperature by 2 degree, which will signal a climate like we have never seen before as modern humans. This article also points out that while the US’s emissions may be leveling off, other countries have continued to pollute more, and that individual Americans are still the biggest polluters per capita. Something needs to be done.


This article does a great job in reminding readers that climate change will have huge impacts on all civilizations, but especially those people in developing countries. Land change, natural disasters, and disease are huge issues that will come hand in hand with other things that we often don’t think about such as changes in weather patterns. All of these are very scary and a reason to act, but I think one of the most important reasons, both environmentally and economically, to change our behavior is the risk that we will lose ecological services that we have been getting for free from the Earth. Using resources in production usually has costs involved, such as buying steel, mining coal, etc. However, ecological services that the paper mentions such as coastline protection, fishery repopulation, the production of oxygen, and regeneration of soils for example have no cost associated with them. Instead, humans have been using up natural resources and taking advantage of the services that natural systems provide for us without considering that these things might not always be operating and prevalent. And with significant climate change, these services can be at risk, causing huge disruptions to the way our culture operates.

Climate change has the potential to be extremely detrimental to everyone on the planet. Least developed countries will bear most of the brunt of change. This will cause all of our development strategies to be useless, sending these communities backwards with disease, hunger, and dangerous living space. Developed countries, who continue to pollute at high levels, should also worry for themselves due to the chance that many things we now take for-granted could be at risk.

Gyung Jeong

From the first sentence of the executive summary, we can immediately sense the urgency that the author is trying to convey. If we do not take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then more than 4 C degrees can go up. Although the 4 degrees increase might not look serious, we know that this can affect various regions, sea level, and eventually human beings. No one is immune to the impacts of climate change. However, the distribution of these impacts will be disproportional against the poor regions. This is what the paper is approaching. Due to the fact that they are poor, they lack the resources and conditions that help them to protect themselves from being challenged by the negative impacts of climate changes. It will be also hard for them to adjust and adapt to the changes whereas the rich people tend to adapt to the new changes quickly with their resources.
Also, another impact of the climate changes on the poor people is that these changes can slow down the economic growth in the poor countries. As they face their lack of resources and poor conditions, as they tend to work closer with the environment, they can be hurt by these changes, which eventually slow down the growth.
I hope that the countries that signed up for Kyoto Protocol actually follow what they promised and hopefully figure out the ways to work with the poor countries.

Vincent Kim

The executive summary mentions that rising temperatures will rapidly increase the risk of crop yield reductions (page xvi). We have been talking about agroforestry and farmers choosing slash-and-burn method instead. I see a connection to not choosing the optimal way to use resources while those resources are diminishing rapidly. For instance, I wonder if lower crop yields caused by increased temperatures would influence farmers to be more expansive to offset the increased risk of failure. I would think they would clear more land so that the lower yield would still equal the yield of the smaller field with lower risk. However, I wonder if there is data that suggests that diminishing resources would encourage farmers to use land more optimally, or more generally, if the problems caused by global warming will cause households to use resources more efficiently.

This seems like an important issue because if climate change does not encourage households to use resources more efficiently, governments might have to enforce better practices. Knowledge of the extent to which diminishing resources give influence efficient use would help governments gauge how much intervention would be needed. This relates to tragedy of the commons, since climate change is such a large externality. We already mention the study that CO2 emissions will rise far beyond acceptable, sustainable levels until developing countries are satisfied, but I wonder if this is the case for other resources such as potable water and farmland.

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