Syndicate content

News

What happens when your wealth disappears?

Ricardo Fuentes's picture
What happens when your wealth disappears?
   Photo © Ray Witlin/World Bank

The latest data on home prices in the US is pretty dismal. According to the Case–Schiller index, home prices fell by 18.5 % from December 2007 to December 2008 – the largest drop in record. Add the jump in unemployment figures in recent months and we have a bleak outlook.

But what do the housing and labor market in the US have to do with the changing climate? Nothing, at first glance. But the sudden loss in wealth and income is similar to what other asset owners experience in less fortunate parts of the world, where climate change is a threat to well being. Cattle herders and farmers who depend on rainfall often experience a dramatic fall in their assets –typically bullocks or goats- after a drought. The sudden lack of resources when rainfall is low forces them to sell their surviving cattle, pushing their prices down and sending whole communities into destitution.

In my backyard, or not—but is that really the question?

Andrea Liverani's picture
In my backyard, or not—but is that really the question?
   Photo © World Bank

For years scientists have argued that in order to grab the public’s attention to global warming, citizens must be told how the towns, regions and communities in which they and their children live will be affected. Information on local level impacts – the argument runs – makes climate change “real” and should therefore be the cornerstone of public support for mitigation.

Financial panic—the most reassuring news in weeks

Rachel Ilana Block's picture

There’s been a lot of worrying news lately – particularly, news that looks bad for achieving global multilateral action on climate change.  The collapse of the Doha trade negotiations in July has been interpreted by many – including World Bank President Robert Zoellick and former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson – as steepening the “uphill struggle” of the UNFCCC negotiations.

More recently, the unfolding global financial crisis is weakening optimism about tackling climate change.  The financial crisis is dominating headlines and bumping climate change ever lower on the international agenda.  The metaphors abound, as climate change “takes a back seat” and is “left out in the cold.”