Global Warming Is A Global Problem
By Ryan Johnson
It is the collective duty of states to ensure the survival of Earth.
Born to former farmers who now own a business exporting perishable herbs from Hawaii to the continental United States, my family has witnessed first hand how climate change has impeded crop development in the past 40 years.
The agricultural industry is among the first to confront the effects of global warming. Climate change may include torrential rainfall, extended periods of drought, and in extreme cases, human mortality.
I believe that at the rate temperatures are rising, agricultural productivity will inevitably decline. This is a critical issue for many developing countries that depend on agriculture for economic development and domestic consumption.
Developing countries often have weak central governments and are plagued with internal ambivalence; an economic crisis caused by the effects of global warming may become a breeding ground for state collapse in the developing world.
For example, South Sudan is an impoverished, war-torn country with substantial reliance on its agricultural sector to sustain its fragile economy. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2017, South Sudan will feel the effects of global warming at about 2.5 times more than the global average and is amongst the worst performing states in the world.
With up to 95% of the population relying on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries for their day-to-day living, the dry spells from global warming will be especially detrimental to South Sudan. In its current weak state, South Sudan doesn’t have the capacity to combat an economic crisis induced by global warming without a high probability of collapsing from the lack of profitable and sustainable agriculture.
This problem, however, extends beyond South Sudan. State economies are globally intertwined because of trade. Many developing countries have arable land that cannot be replicated in developed countries.
Meanwhile, developed countries have abundant capital to produce advanced technology. Comparative advantage exists amongst developing countries and developed countries in order to delegate the production of goods and attain maximum efficiency.
Mass Displacement And Death
In the United States, we rely on imports from developing countries to help supply domestic demands. For example, Mexico is our largest supplier of agricultural products, exporting $26 billion worth of goods in 2018.
However, Mexico’s cropland is expected to decline by 40% to 70% by 2030 due to climate change. If developing countries are unable to export enough goods, prices of agricultural produce and other imported commodities will skyrocket in our own domestic markets.
So if global warming has such profound effects on the future of every country, why haven’t we done more to decrease carbon emissions?
After all, we are potentially anticipating mass displacement and death tolls far greater than war if we don’t do anything about climate change.
First, there are leaders like President Donald Trump who don’t believe in the severity of climate change. As the world’s only superpower, the United States has a duty to hold ourselves and others accountable in environmental protect treaties, agreements, and policies.
But President Trump withdrew the United States out of the Paris Agreement, creating a global message that environmental protection isn’t at the forefront of United States policy agenda.
“There are leaders like President Donald Trump who don’t believe in the severity of climate change.”
Secondly, the World Trade Organization doesn’t take into consideration repercussions on the environment when settling trade disputes between countries. Some of their previous rulings have caused countries to roll back their domestic environmental protection policies.
For example, Mexico contested the United States’ environmental protection policy regarding dolphin-safe labeling for tuna imports. WTO allowed Mexico to impose trade sanctions until the dispute is resolved, forcing the United States to either roll back its environmental protection policies for Mexico or be fined millions of dollars annually.
In order to stop climate change, world leaders and institutions cannot deny the catastrophic effects of global warming on Earth and that this occurrence is a result of human activity. We also need international institutions, like the WTO, to take environmental implications into consideration when settling disputes or creating new policies.
Lastly, domestic governments need to take the initiative to implement more environmental protection regulations and encourage environmentally-friendly habits amongst their citizens.
Some people may object to my solutions, claiming that high enforcement procedures will impose significant costs upon states. While that may be true, it is the collective duty of states to ensure the survival of Earth and this starts with the preservation of the developing world’s agricultural economy.
The incurred costs of protecting the environment is a short-term issue when compared to the long-term consequences of climate change. The more carbon emissions accumulate in the atmosphere, the closer we are to a catastrophic period of horrific human suffering.