Study quantifies ecological debt owed to world’s poorest countries
New research has attempted to quantify the costs that richer and poorer nations inflict on each other through environmental degradation. And guess who gets dumped on more? Turns out, the poorest countries have endured more environmental strife from richer countries than the other way ’round. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on six environmental issues and their effects on low-, middle-, and high-income nations — agricultural intensification, climate change, deforestation, draining of coastal mangrove wetlands, overfishing, and ozone depletion — from 1961 to 2000. It concluded that low-income countries effectively subsidized higher-income countries to the tune of some $3 trillion over that time in the form of displaced emissions, disproportionate impacts on people and the environment, and more. “Our analysis highlights the ecological harm poor countries bear to indirectly enable the living standards of wealthier nations,” the report said. The true cost of environmental degradation in poorer countries is thought to be much higher since the report didn’t focus on impacts from other eco-issues such as biodiversity loss, invasive species, or war.