Background (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Rises in average global temperatures will most adversely affect the world’s poor and place at risk international efforts to eradicate poverty. Developing countries will bear the brunt of climate-related adversities that have already affected millions of people. The $6 billion spent annually on humanitarian responses to disasters would face sharp increases if global warming continues.
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What Is Known (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Estimated deaths due to climate change are concentrated in the poorer regions of the globe. In 2000, mortality per million persons ranged from lows of 0-2 throughout countries in the more affluent Northern Hemisphere to highs of 70-100 in the poorest regions of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa. The area of the world stricken by drought doubled between 1970 and the early 2000’s, turning even fertile land in Africa to desert.
Between 1900 and 2004, 73 percent of disasters were climate related; 94 percent of disasters and 97 percent of disaster-related deaths occurred in developing countries. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch affected more than 25 percent of households in Honduras, led to a 7 percent drop in agricultural output, and increased the nation’s poverty rate significantly. The loss of livestock to Rift Valley disease from the 1997-1998 El Niño resulted in a billion-dollar ban by the Gulf States on trade from East Africa. Following the 2000 floods in Mozambique, the country’s real annual growth rate fell by 7 percent. In 2002, flooding in Bangladesh damaged 20 percent of crops and left 1.4 million people food insecure.
Climate change brings the risk of increases in serious diseases. Subsequent Hurricane Mitch flooding increased the incidence of cholera fourfold in Guatemala and sixfold in Nicaragua. Since 1940, El Niño-related floods increased the severity of cholera in Bangladesh. Longer rainy seasons increased...
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Anticipated Consequences (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
By 2020, drought is expected to reduce African farming harvests by 50 percent. Between 75 and 250 million people in Africa may face water shortages, as may 3 billion people in the Middle East and on the Indian subcontinent.
By 2035, glaciers in the Himalayas are likely to melt to such an extent that the water supply of three-quarters of a billion people in Asia would be severely compromised. By 2050, rising sea levels, floods, and drought could render more than 200 million people homeless. The number of people at risk of annual flooding alone is expected to increase from 75 million to 206 million, with 90 percent of those at risk within Africa and Asia.
By 2070, rainfall in the wet season in Pakistan could increase by 5 to 50 percent, which would have significant impacts on the annual yield of cotton, the country’s main cash crop, and thereby affect Pakistani prospects for economic growth, trade, and foreign investment. The world’s percentage of people at risk from malaria is expected to increase from 40 percent to 80 percent by 2080, severely taxing many countries’ and the international community’s health care systems.
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Who Is Doing What to Help (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
The 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development adopted the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the third conference of the UNFCCC in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. Fearing that stabilizing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would adversely affect its economy, the United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
In addition to the UNFCCC, over twenty-five other organizations constitute the United Nations Systems Work on Climate Change, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United NationsEnvironment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Commission on sustainable development (CSD), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Under United Nations auspices, the September 8, 2000, Millennium Declaration, signed by 189 countries, identified poverty eradication and environmental stability as two of eight interrelated millennium development goals (MDGs). The World Bank’sWorld Development Report, 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty and the United Nations-commissioned Human Development Report, 2007/2008 also linked poverty reduction goals to sustainable environmental strategies. International figures such as former U.S. vice president and 2007 Nobel Peace laureate Al Gore and rock singer Bono have taken up the cause of linking poverty reduction with sustainable development at world forum events....
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Context (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Climate change may be the definitive human development issue of the twenty-first century, as Great Britain’s 2006 Stern Review suggested and the Human Development Report, 2007/2008 contended. Increased exposure to drought, more intense storms, floods, and environmental stress will dilute efforts of the world’s poor to build a better life. Failure to meet climate-related challenges would consign the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population, some 2.6 billion people, to a future of increased socioeconomic destitution and diminished opportunity. It would exacerbate socioeconomic disparities within countries, increasing the likelihood of civil conflicts and undermining efforts to build a more inclusive pattern of globalization, and it would raise the prospects of geopolitical confrontations between developed nations such as the United States and developing ones such as China as they compete for scare resources.
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Ravindranath, N. H., and Jayanta A. Sathaye. Climate Change and Developing Countries. New York: Kluwer Academic, 2008. Provides a balanced presentation of varying perspectives on climate change as it affects the future role of developing countries. Rich in detail; discusses global mechanisms for capacity building, technology transfer, and investment flow from developed to underdeveloped countries. Figures, index, references.
Roberts, J. Timmons, and Bradley C. Parks. A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007. Argues that north-south inequality sustains diametrically opposed conceptions of “climate justice,” precludes cooperative efforts, and poses a serious threat to political resolutions to bearing costs to enable developing countries to prepare themselves for climate-related adversities. Appendixes, notes, references, index.
Van Drunen, M. A., R. Lasage, and C. Dorland, eds. Climate Change in Developing Countries: Results from the Netherlands Climate Change Studies Assistance Programme. Oxford, England: CAB International, 2006. Presents select studies from thirteen least developed countries about the interdependence of climate change, GHG emissions, vulnerability and adaption, and policy responses. Appendix with questionnaire results, figures, index.
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Poverty (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
POVERTY. About 31.1 million, or 11.3 percent, of Americans were poor in 2000. "Poor," as used here, means living below the poverty threshold, a dollar amount determined by the United States Bureau of the Census by taking a family's total income before taxes and then adjusting for the size of the family and the number of related children under eighteen years of age. In 2000, the poverty threshold ranged from $8,259 for an individual sixty-five and older to $33,291 for a family of nine or more individuals, including eight or more related children under eighteen. The poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two related children was $17,463. Individuals sixty-five and older, blacks and Hispanics, people in families with no workers, households headed by women, and people living inside central cities suffered disproportionately higher rates of poverty compared with other Americans.
The federal poverty threshold originated in the 1950s and is based today on the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan, a minimal-cost food plan determined to be nutritionally adequate according to national dietary guidelines, its cost multiplied by a factor of three (based on the assumption that nutritionally adequate food will cost one-third of a family's income) to account for other living expenses. Although it is updated annually according to the Consumer Price Index for inflation, a chief criticism of the poverty threshold is that food expenses have accounted for less than 15 percent of average income since 1965 (10.2 percent in 2000), making the multiplier too small, while other living expenses (such as housing, health care, transportation, and child care) have increased dramatically, especially for the poor.
Quantitative descriptions of the food and nutrient intakes of poor Americans can be found in analyses of national surveys that collect dietary and sociodemographic data from representative samples of the U.S. population. Analysis of the 1994996 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) showed that poor Americans, defined as adults aged twenty years and older with incomes below 131 percent of the poverty threshold, tended to consume fewer servings of grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods, but more servings of meats and meat alternates and more added sugars, compared with adults with higher incomes. Fewer servings of grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods, and lower energy and nutrient intakes were found for men and women with less than a high-school education, a proxy measure for poverty, compared with men and women who had completed high school and beyond.
Analyses of a number of national surveys conducted between 1977 and 1996 show that dietary intakes of low-income adults have changed over time. For example, overall dietary quality improved among low-income white and Hispanic women, primarily due to reductions in total and saturated-fat and cholesterol intakes. However, fruit and vegetable intakes remained below the recommended amounts, as did those of key nutrients such as calcium, iron, and folic acid.
Poverty, Food Insufficiency, Food Insecurity, and Hunger
Poverty is inextricably linked with food insufficiency (not having enough to eat some or all of the time), food insecurity (uncertainty about or inability to acquire nutritionally adequate foods in socially acceptable ways), and hunger (the physical consequence of not having enough to eat). According to data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), food insufficiency affected 4.1 percent of U.S. house holds, or between 9 and 12 million individuals. Data from the September 2000 Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement showed the prevalence of food insecurity to be 10.5 percent, and the prevalence of hunger to be 3.1 percent, affecting 11 million and 3.3 million Americans, respectively. Numerous studies of national survey data have shown lower intakes of several nutrients among men, women, and children who experience food insufficiency or food insecurity. Analysis of food intakes and serum nutrients of adults from food-insufficient families has also shown lower intakes of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, and lower concentrations of serum albumin, serum carotenoids, and serum vitamins A and E. Additional analyses of food-insufficient adults and children reveal a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity, poor health status, and iron deficiency.
Results from qualitative analyses of dietary data, in the form of ethnographic research studies, complement findings from quantitative studies and confirm differences in food choices between poor and nonpoor Americans. Poor Americans tend to consume more starches, fats, and sugars but less of foods associated with good health, like fruits and vegetables, high-fiber grains, and low-fat dairy items. Although specific food choices may differ by ethnicity or geographic location, commonalities in eating patterns exist among poor Americans. Food intakes can vary quite dramatically in the course of a month, with greater quantities and more varied foods purchased immediately after a pay period or allotment of food assistance (such as food stamps) and very limited quantities, of little variety, purchased as funds run out. Also, food intakes are not equal within households. A common occurrence is for the wife or mother of the family to reduce her intake in order to feed her children. Communal dining may also be impossible when income limits available cookware or dining facilities, or sporadic work schedules keep all members of a family from being together at one time. Feelings of deprivation, often rooted in childhood, may lead to buying nonnutritious foods (such as soda and snack foods) that are also attractive because inexpensive. Although studies show that, in theory, consuming a minimal-cost diet in accordance with the latest dietary guidelines is possible, poor Americans are more likely to purchase foods from small, nearby stores that charge an average of 10 percent more than large supermarkets farther from home.
Food Assistance in the United States
Many poor Americans are eligible for federal food-assistance programs like the Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). In addition to or as a substitute for government assistance, many poor Americans also receive charitable assistance from food pantries and soup kitchens. In 2000, 50.4 percent of Americans identified as food-insecure received assistance from one of the three federal food-assistance programs, 16.7 percent received food from a food pantry, and 2.5 percent had family members who ate at a soup kitchen. Although participation in these programs and services may reduce food insecurity, the dietary quality of participants' food may not be better than that of nonparticipants. Given societal pressures to join the dominant culture and eat the most advertised, least expensive, most accessible foodsealthful or nothe challenge is how to improve the diets of all Americans, especially the poor.
See also Class, Social; Cost of Food; Food Pantries; Food Riots; Food Stamps; Homelessness; Nutrition Transition: Worldwide Diet Change; Population and Demographics; Rationing; Sociology; Soup Kitchens; WIC (Women, Infants, and Children's) Program.
Alaimo, K., R. R. Briefel, E. A. Frongillo, and C. M. Olson. "Food Insufficiency Exists in the United States: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III)." American Journal of Public Health 88 (1998): 41926.
Andrews, M., L. S. Kantor, M. Lino, and D. Ripplinger. "Using USDA's Thrifty Food Plan to Assess Food Availability and Affordability." Food Review 24 (2001): 453.
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. The Thrifty Food Plan, 1999. CNPP-7A. Available at .
Dalaker J. "Poverty in the United States: 2000." U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Series P60-214. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 2001.
Dixon, L. B., M. A. Winkleby, and K. L. Radimer. "Dietary Intakes and Serum Nutrients Differ between Adults from Food-Insufficient and Food-Sufficient Families: Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988994." Journal of Nutrition 131 (2001): 1232246.
Fitchen, J. M. "Hunger, Malnutrition, and Poverty in the Contemporary United States: Some Observations on Their Social and Cultural Context." Journal of Food and Foodways 2 (1988): 30933.
Kaufman, P. R., J. M. MacDonald, S. M. Lutz, and D. M. Smallwood. "Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 1997.
Kumanyika, S., and S. M. Krebs-Smith. "Preventive Nutrition Issues in Ethnic and Socioeconomic Groups in the United States." In Primary and Secondary Preventive Nutrition, edited by A. Bendich and R. J. Deckelbaum. Totowa, N.J.: Humana Press, 2001.
Nord, M., K. Nader, L. Tiehen, M. Andrews, G. Bickel, and S. Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States, 2000. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 2000.
Sharpe, D. L., and M. Abdel-Ghany. "Identifying the Poor and Their Consumption Patterns." Family Economics and Nutrition Review 12 (1999): 155.
Siega-Riz, A. M., and B. M. Popkin. "Dietary Trends among Low Socioeconomic Status Women of Childbearing Age in the United States from 1977 to 1996: A Comparison among Ethnic Groups." Journal of the American Medical Women's Association 56 (2001): 448.
United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Food Consumption per Capita Data System. Available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/foodconsumption/datasystem.asp.
L. Beth Dixon