November 01, 2006

Climate Change and... Gender?

The Stern Report, on the potential effects of impending climate change, makes for fascinating reading. I wonder how likely all this stuff is. As media accounts have rightly noted, it's a seriously dire assessment, concluding that global warming will cause an untold number of catastrophes in the coming years. Some of the specific catastrophes discussed are things I've never thought of before. For instance:
Gender inequalities will likely worsen with climate change. Workloads and responsibilities such as collecting water, fuel and food will grow and become more time consuming in light of greater resource scarcity. This will allow less time for education or participation in market-based work. A particular burden will be imposed on those households that are short of labour, further exacerbated if the men migrate in times of extreme stress leaving women vulnerable to impoverishment, forced marriage, labour exploitation and trafficking.

Women are 'over-represented' in agriculture and the informal economy, sectors that will be hardest hit by climate change. This exposure is coupled with a low capacity to adapt given their unequal access to resources such as credit and transport. Women are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters with women and children accounting for more than 75% of displaced persons following natural disasters.
On the grand sliding scale of very bad things, this probably isn't as bad as the millions of people who could die for lack of food, or because of the spread of disease, or due to increased flooding in places such as Bangladesh, but it's still bad, and a reminder that rapid change could have all sorts of unexpected adverse effects. (Link courtesy of Tim Dunlop.)
-- Brad Plumer 7:36 PM || ||