Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mapping human vulnerability to climate change

Date:
March 3, 2011
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Researchers already study how various species of plants and animals migrate in response to climate change. Now, a researcher has taken the innovative step of using the same analytic tools to measure the impact of climate change on human populations. They found that if populations continue to increase at the expected rates, those who are likely to be the most vulnerable to climate change are the people living in low-latitude, hot regions of the world.

Local vulnerability of human populations to climate change based on ecological and demographic models. The regions in red are expected to be most negatively impacted by climate change. White regions correspond to human density values of zero in the global population database.
Credit: Jason Samson

Researchers already study how various species of plants and animals migrate in response to climate change. Now, Jason Samson, a PhD candidate in McGill University's Department of Natural Resource Sciences, has taken the innovative step of using the same analytic tools to measure the impact of climate change on human populations. Samson and fellow researchers combined climate change data with censuses covering close to 97 per-cent of the world's population in order to forecast potential changes in local populations for 2050.

Related Articles


Samson's team found that if populations continue to increase at the expected rates, those who are likely to be the most vulnerable to climate change are the people living in low-latitude, hot regions of the world, places like central South America, the Arabian Peninsula and much of Africa. In these areas, a relatively small increase in temperature will have serious consequences on a region's ability to sustain a growing population."It makes sense that the low latitude tropical regions should be more vulnerable because the people there already experience extremely hot conditions which make agriculture challenging. An increase in temperature over the next few decades will only make their lives more difficult in a variety of ways," says Samson.

This contrasts with Samson's predictions about the impact of climate change on human populations in the high-latitude more temperate zones of the world, where the temperature change is expected to be greater. Because the spread of human populations along with their activities are already more constrained by the cooler conditions in these regions, the researchers expect that climate change will have less of an impact on people living in these areas.

The study also points to clear inequities in the causes and consequences of climate change: the countries that have contributed the least to climate change, based on their average per-capita carbon dioxide emissions, are nevertheless predicted to be the most vulnerable to its impacts. "Take Somalia for instance," suggests Samson."Because it's so hot there, it's already very difficult to grow things, and it will only become more difficult if the temperature rises. It's also clear that Somalia is not a big contributor of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Now thanks to this map, we have concrete quantitative evidence of the disparity between the causes and the consequences of climate change at a national level."

Samson anticipates this data could be useful for decision makers around the world in the ongoing international negotiations around climate change.

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Samson, D. Berteaux, B. J. McGill, M. M. Humphries. Geographic disparities and moral hazards in the predicted impacts of climate change on human populations. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00632.x

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Mapping human vulnerability to climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303120848.htm>.
McGill University. (2011, March 3). Mapping human vulnerability to climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303120848.htm
McGill University. "Mapping human vulnerability to climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303120848.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for 25 Oklahoma counties after powerful storms rumbled across the state causing one death, numerous injuries and widespread damage. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) At least four people have been killed by severe flooding in northern Chile after rains battered the Andes mountains and swept into communities below. Rob Muir reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Buildings and homes lay in ruins and a semi-truck gets flipped following a fierce tornado that left at least one person dead. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tornado Tears Through Oklahoma Town

Tornado Tears Through Oklahoma Town

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Aerial video shows the moment a tornado ripped across the town of Moore, Oklahoma, sending sparks flying. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins