The environmental justice dimensions of climate change
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Nations around the world are considering strategies to mitigate the severe impacts of climate change predicted to occur in the twenty-first century. Many countries, however, lack the wealth, technology, and government institutions to effectively cope with climate change. This study investigates the varying degrees to which developing and developed nations will be exposed to changes in three key variables: temperature, precipitation, and runoff. We use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis to compare current and future climate model predictions on a country level. We then compare our calculations of climate change exposure for each nation to several metrics of political and economic well-being. Our results indicate that the impacts of changes in precipitation and runoff are distributed relatively equally between developed and developing nations. In contrast, we confirm research suggesting that developing nations will be affected far more severely by changes in temperature than developed nations. Our results also suggest that this unequal impact will persist throughout the twenty-first century. Our analysis further indicates that the most significant temperature changes will occur in politically unstable countries, creating an additional motivation for developed countries to actively engage with developing nations on climate mitigation strategies. © 2011, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.