You have heard it said, “Never discuss politics or religion with people.” This is because however a person came to hold his or her convictions on those subjects, those convictions are highly personal, and almost any questions or discussions are seen as threats or attempts to invalidate those convictions. So we are advised to stay away from them to keep peace and harmony in the office, on the street, or at the dinner table. Based on current trends, climate change might become a third subject people want to avoid.
There aren’t many topics that push people to passionate debate – OK, heated arguments – than climate change. Like religion and politics, people increasingly see views opposite their own as threats or attempts to invalidate.
On one hand, you have the people that insist there is no such thing as man-made climate change. These people say the climate has been changing for billions of years, including the time when humans had not yet appeared. It’s all natural, they say, and nothing we do now or in the future will change things one bit.
On the other hand, you have people that believe the changes the climate has gone through in the last 200 years is entirely human-created. Industrialization, they argue, has put more harmful gases in the atmosphere than could naturally occur in a million years, and we’ve done all of that since 1800 or so. And while 200 years sounds like a long time to a species that generally lives for 70-90 years, if we don’t make radical changes immediately, there won’t be any of said species within a few generations.
Those are the extreme positions, and the truth is most likely somewhere in between. It stands to reason that some of the changes have been natural, and some influenced by human activity. It also stands to reason that there are human behaviors that can and should be altered, and by reducing the gases we put in the atmosphere, disastrous consequences can be avoided. But people on both sides of the debate are so dedicated to their positions that no one wants to meet in the middle.
But even if your position on climate change is as sacred to you as your political affiliation or religion, we have to have discussions because the issue is getting larger by the year.
With that in mind, who is most at risk and who is most able to withstand the results of climate change? The University of Notre Dame did a comprehensive study in 2015 to see which countries were in the best position to deal with climate change. The study was updated in 2018. This report analyzed 181 countries on their vulnerability to climate change and how ready they are to adapt to a warming planet, based on factors such as healthcare, food supply and government stability. The study also scrutinized how much carbon dioxide all 181 countries emit every year to give an indication of each nation’s contribution toward climate change. This allowed us to compare a country’s likeliness to survive changes to the global climate against their responsibility for the phenomenon. Full details of the study can be found here.
Countries In Worst Position For Climate Change
Before we reveal the countries in the best position, let’s take a look at which countries are in the worst positions.
4. Central African Republic
5. Democratic Republic of the Congo
If you look closely at the maps in the study, you will notice that almost all the countries on the continent of Africa are in the worst-prepared group. Of course, most of these countries are also among the world’s poorest. These countries also rank lowest in government stability. This creates some significant challenges when developing solutions to help these countries prepare for climate change – they don’t have the finances to put mitigation programs in place, and the lack of stability in the governments make it difficult to develop programs even before addressing the concerns with financing them. Of course, even in wealthy nations, getting mitigation efforts high on the list of priorities is its own political challenge.
Countries In Best Position For Climate Change
OK, we’ve made you wait long enough. Here are the countries in the best position to handle climate change:
2. New Zealand
The USA and the UK were in the top 10 in the 2015 study, but their rankings have dropped since then.
Although a nations relative wealth was only one factor in the study, it’s quite obvious that the poorest countries are in the worst position while the wealthiest nations are in better positions.
This is the point where some of the most fierce debate arises when analyzing possible solutions. Should the wealthiest countries contribute financially to the poor nations’ work to mitigate and prepare for climate change? Skeptics will note that some of the worst-prepared countries are led by dictators and/or mob-style groups, and any financial aid given to these nations will not do anything but go in the personal coffers of the groups/dictators. That is a point of consideration, but likely not a sufficient reason to abandon these countries entirely.
Debate rages on about what to do. The leaders of 150 nations, along with thousands of representatives of nearly 200 countries, have met in Paris 20 times to try and come up with a master plan to stave off the global catastrophe ahead. Scientists have known for decades that the problem on our generation’s hands is serious, but recent reports find that even those dire warnings likely underestimated the scope of the issue.
“The bottom line is it’s going to be bad everywhere,” Bruce Riordan, the director of the Climate Readiness Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, told Business Insider. “It’s a matter of who gets organized around this.”