Climate change is expected to cause some drastic shifts to the planet’s natural systems in the coming decades, and scientists are already beginning to log evidence of global warming’s effects. According to a report from Newsweek, a recent study suggests that climate change will cause a massive shift of natural resources towards the planet’s poles, which in turn is expected to create dramatic shifts in global wealth.
The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change, and argues that as regions towards the equator become hotter, natural resources like trees, fish, and plants will migrate north and south in search of more favorable environments. The team was led by assistant professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Eli Fenichel.
The paper argues that the global shifts of natural resources and wealth will be hard to predict, but the researchers expected money to follow fish and farmland toward the poles as equatorial temperatures increase. The shift will likely hit developing countries the hardest, as such nations rely heavily on natural resources like fish and other crops.
The study suggests that policy makers account for “inclusive wealth” when considering how climate change will affect the global economy. This term refers to the sum of traditional, human and natural capital as a function of a country’s ability to sustain a certain standard of living. More sustainable economies will see stable or growing wealth in the future, while countries that see a flight of natural resources will have a tough time moving forward.
Researchers described the study’s findings using two fictional fishing communities, “Northport” and “Southport.” As a result of climate change, Southport’s fish population underwent a massive migration to Northport. The researchers then modeled the economic after effects of this migration, drawing parallels between the fictitious communities and nations on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, which rely heavily on fish resources.
The point of the study was to illustrate how far the effects of a changing climate could reach. The changes caused by a warming globe are wildly unpredictable, and the researchers suggest that closer attention should be paid to the large-scale reallocation of natural resources.
A press release from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies describing the details of the research can be found here.