The Poor are Hurt Most by Climate Change

The people who are hurt have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions

By Katerina Paone

When you think about climate change, what do you think of?

What does “save the planet” mean to you?

Who or what suffers because of climate change? Our planet? The polar bears? Ice caps?

I’m here to tell you that climate change is about more than polar bears and ice caps. It’s about people.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, I lived and worked with the frontline communities to climate change. I served in Zambia, an African country where almost everyone is a farmer and most people are poor (living on less than $1.90 a day). Families depend upon a rainy season to grow maize and other foods to feed their families. To Zambians, their maize is everything. It’s their source of income, nutrition, livelihood, and future. Because of climate change, there has been an increase in droughts and floods, which has led to crop failure across the country. During my two years, I witnessed firsthand how climate change has caused food and economic insecurity, decreased educational attainment, and suffering.

Unlike a rural Zambian farmer living in a mud house with six children on less than $1.90 a day, to us, it doesn’t really matter that much if it didn’t rain as much this year as it did last year. That simply isn’t true for the rest of the world.

The people who are hurt the most by climate change are the poorest in the world, are most vulnerable to its impacts, and have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions.

Our country is the second largest contributor to climate change in the world. And in order to limit the suffering we are perpetuating on Zambians and other poor people across the globe, we must limit our emissions.

Who really needs saving? The planet or people?

Katerina Paone

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.