Climate change and poverty are two of the greatest challenges facing the world today, and both threaten to deepen the existing divide between those who have resources and those who don’t.
Deloitte released a report called “The Turning Point: A Global Summary” that addresses the climate emergency. The report claims that the recent natural disasters are unprecedented and that unchecked climate change will cost $178 trillion over the next 50 years.
Jordan Peterson, in his Telegraph article, “Peddlers of environmental doom have shown their true totalitarian colours” challenges the accuracy of these claims and criticises Deloitte’s models as lacking validity. He argues that valid authority rests with the people and that a free-market system is the best model of the environment, which cannot be improved upon.
He also criticises the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 as preposterous and harmful to countries like Australia. He believes that true authority lies with the people and that real solutions should come from local, not centralised, sources. That the global economy and environment are too complex to be accurately modelled and that the free market is the best representation of the environment.
Whilst I don’t agree with much of what Peterson says, I do concur that the free-market system remains the best mechanism to model real human behaviour, that large government initiatives are generally bad, and it is important to avoid centralised top-down solutions imposed by anybody who claims to know what is best for the planet.
Climate change and poverty are inextricably linked as they both threaten the most vulnerable populations across the world. As global temperatures and sea levels rise, people living in poverty are the most severely impacted and this will only deepen the existing divide between those who have resources and those who don’t. Poor people living in low-income countries are further impacted as they have fewer resources to deal with the problem. Climate change can affect access to healthcare, livelihood, and even where a person can live, leading to further poverty.
Coastal communities, with an estimated 37% of the global population, are vulnerable to sea level rise, natural disasters and displacement, which can strip people of their homes, professions, and networks and push them into poverty. Climate change can also lead to droughts, heatwaves, and natural disasters that can displace people and make them refugees. An estimated 100 million people living in developing countries could be pushed into poverty by climate change by 2030.
How do we approach a solution without relying on draconian global government initiatives, costing hard won individual freedoms? Luckily, the human species is nothing if not ingenious.
The concept of leapfrogging is being used in developing countries as a theory of sustainable development which may accelerate progress by skipping inferior, less efficient, more expensive or more polluting technologies and industries and move directly to more advanced ones.
Education is Key
One of the most important things we can do as a civilisation is provide global access to education. Education empowers people living in poverty, giving them the resources, networks and knowledge they need to improve their lives. With the help of modern technology, we can bring education to people living in remote or rural areas, or help connect them to services such as healthcare and food banks. AI can be used to develop personalised learning programs and provide access to educational resources, such as online courses and libraries.
Access to Financial Services
We can help fight poverty and the climate crisis by increasing access to financial services. AI can be used to create more secure, efficient, and accessible financial systems, helping people living in poverty to access banking, insurance, and other financial services. This not only improves their financial stability, but it also provides them with the resources they need to address the impacts of climate change, such as making adaptations to their homes or businesses.
Monitoring Effects of Climate Change
One of the key ways we can address the effects of climate change is by monitoring and analysing data on the environment. AI can be used to collect and analyse large amounts of data, helping us to better understand the effects of climate change and how to address them. For example, AI can be used to develop early warning systems for natural disasters, or to monitor and assess the impacts of climate change on crops. This information can be used by farmers to adjust their crops and make the most of changing climate conditions.
Improving Efficiency of Global Supply Chains
AI can also be used to improve the efficiency of global supply chains, reducing waste and environmental damage. By automating processes and reducing the need for manual labour, AI can improve working conditions and reduce the cost of production. AI can also be used to optimise the use of resources and develop more efficient production processes, reducing the environmental impact of production and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.
We don’t fix the climate by making the poor even poorer. While technology can provide powerful tools, it is only part of the solution to poverty and climate change. We must also tackle the underlying causes of poverty and climate change, such as addressing inequality, poverty, and lack of access to resources. To do this, we need to work together to ensure that everyone has access to basic resources, education, healthcare, and employment. We must each address the inequalities that exist within our own societies, and work to create a more just and equal world for all.