the cost of climate change

Economists estimate the impact of climate change at 5 to 20 percent of global GDP. Five percent. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

This map, courtesy of FiveThirtyEight via Strange Maps, shows what the world would look like without the countries that make up the bottom 5% of global GDP. For the record, that’s sixty-four countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Rwanda
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Solomon Islands
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Timor-Leste
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

3 thoughts on “the cost of climate change”

  1. I think that this map is really interesting. In fact I've been thinking about it for a couple days now.

    I think it is pretty clear that poorer countries will be affected the most by climate change for two reasons.

    1. Developed countries are already preparing for the negative affects and investing in the needed infrastructure changes. When I was in Venice this summer we got to see the sea wall they are building there — Project Moses. The cost is $3 billion, and no one is going to die because Venice is no longer inhabitable. Some, like Deutsche Bank, are even looking (rightly, I think) at global warming as an investment opportunity. Not so in the developing world.

    2. Looking at your map, it's easy to see that most of the counties in the bottom 5% of GDP are in, or near, the tropics. This is where most of the severe weather changes are likely to occur. I agree with Rebekah that a huge problem will be changes in food supply due to prolonged drought. Not only that, but the consequence of changing weather, flooding, drought, ect… will be much higher for developing countries due to their lack of infrastructure and disaster relief programs.

    Global warming is an Econ 1 problem. The global temperature is a global public good. The problem is that there is no effective global government to make sure that it is provided efficiently. I've imagined some kind of fund where countries contribute based on their population, GDP, and carbon emissions to be used to combat global warming, but that will never happen.

    I'd be interested to hear other suggested solutions. It is unclear to me what sort of global policies (if any) will emerge from the UN conference in December.

  2. I disagree. Climate change threatens subsistence farmers and is a huge part of the world food crisis, which is disproportionately affecting the poor.

  3. But the countries that will be poisoned by the bad climate will not be the bottom 5% (as per GDP rankings), but the top. That's partially the curse of high GDP.

    Look how the West is poisoning away its kids with terrible food (and, of course, this would only get worse with a worse climate), even before the sun-burn makes itself felt. If things like electricity supply should be the victims of a crazy climate, again, the bottom 5% in GDP are much hardier ("comme d'habitude", they'd say) than the rest. Half of NYC would die in a week, if electricity was off.

    It's the war to keep your hands off our remaining resources that would be worth worrying about.

    (Moral: You can't fall off the floor! ~ Old drunkards' proverb.)

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