Economic policy is often blamed when people use the phrase, “The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.” But a new study, published in Nature Climate Change and from researchers at Rutgers, Princeton, Yale, and Arizona State universities, is highlighting climate change’s role in increasing the divide between the rich and the poor.
The study was published today.
According to the researchers, climate change is pushing marine resources, like fish, from temperate zones to the poles.
“Climate change is often described as the greatest environmental challenge of our time,” the researchers write. “In addition, a changing climate can relocate natural capital, change the values of all forms of capital and lead to mass redistribution of wealth.”
The “wealth” mentioned by the authors actually refers to what they call “inclusive wealth,” which is the overall sum of a community’s capital assets, including natural assets, like fish, but also including health, education, and infrastructure.
A changing climate can cause a location’s natural assets to relocate, thus diminishing their overall value and changing who has access to these resources.
“We tend to think of climate change as just a problem of physics and biology,” said Rutgers’ Malin Pinksy, a professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “But people react to climate change as well, and at the moment we don’t have a good understanding for the impacts of human behavior on natural resources affected by climate change.”
The study made use of Pinsky’s data on fish migration. A mathematical formula, developed by Yale’s Eli Fenichel, allowed them to illustrate the movement of resources and wealth.
According to Rutgers, wealthier communities are more likely to have stronger resource management, allowing them to allot more resources towards conservation.
In a model, the researchers created two towns Northport and Southport. According to UPI, simulations showed that environmental resources shifted to Northport as the planet warmed.
The study is one of several currently supported by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.