When I talk about climate change, I often say that future generations may look back in horror at our attitudes. When the history of our era is written, people may wonder how we thought it was okay to carry on with no concern for our carbon footprints. Here are two maps that show why.
First, here’s a map of the world showing greenhouse gases per capita in 2011. It’s not a perfect proxy for responsibility for climate change, because that would include historic emissions. But it does show where emissions are high – the countries that are driving climate right now.
Second, here is a map of climate vulnerability. It shows the places that will be hit hardest by global warming, including extreme weather, drought, and sea level rise.
Flick back and forth between those two. The countries most responsible for climate change are – with a few exceptions – the least at risk. The places that will reap the whirlwind are the least responsible. They are also the least prepared, with fewer resources to adapt.
Flick back and forth again, and this time consider the skin colour of the people in each part of the world – those responsible, and those vulnerable.
Do you see why, in 50 or 100 years time, people are going to talk about climate change the same way we talk about the slave trade today?