When you hear about the effects on climate change on global populations, some of the places that might immediately spring to mind might include the low-lying island of Tuvalu or Haiti, which is increasingly bearing the brunt of ever-more powerful tropical storms. However, a new reportfrom climate change advocacy group DARA has stated that global climate change and pollution from the use of fossil fuels killed nearly 5 million people around the world in 2010 alone.

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What is even more shocking is that by 2030, this figure is expected to rise to nearly 6 million with global costs projected to be more than $4.35 trillion. Of the almost 5 million deaths, 3.5 million occurred mainly in 10 nations, mostly located in developing Africa and Asia. So which 10 countries are seeing their population succumb to the effects of climate change and pollution?

10. Afghanistan (Population: 34.4 million, Deaths: 90,000)

According to DARA’s Climate Vulnerability Monitor, climate change and pollution are key factors driving premature mortality in Afghanistan, leading to 90,000 deaths in 2010. The main cause of death is diarrheal infections from climate change, caused by increasing rates of food spoiling and water contamination.

9. Russia (Population: 141.8 million, Deaths: 100,000)

Despite being a relatively modern country, approximately 98,000 people died in 2010 due to the effects of carbon pollution. While Russia’s emissions in 2010 were 34% below 1990 levels, Soviet-backed industrial emissions from the 1980s and 1990s still contribute to high incidences of “cancer, cardiopulmonary and respiratory illnesses.”

8. Ethiopia (Population: 83 million, Deaths: 100,000)

Like Afghanistan, the population of Ethiopia will be affected by diarrheal infections caused by spoiling food. In 2010, the agriculture cost of climate change was already $450 million annually, but this is expected to rise to $3 billion a year within the next 20 years. Unfortunately, Ethiopia has one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world.

7. Bangladesh (Population: 148.7 million, Deaths: 100,000)

Like India and China, pollution has been responsible for a large number of deaths. It is predicted that hunger, caused by increasing food insecurity as the world’s climates worsen, is expected to cause 15,000 deaths, and adversely affect another 15 million Bangladeshis by 2030.

6. Democratic Republic of the Congo (Population: 66 million, Deaths: 100,000)

The DARA report states that about 17,000 lives were lost in the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to climate change, while another 84,000 were lost due to carbon emissions. The report states that one of the main killers is meningitis, caused by rising humidity and irregular weather patterns.

5. Indonesia (Population: 239.9 million, Deaths: 150,000)

In Indonesia, carbon emission are responsible for large numbers of deaths, but this is expected to rise to 200,000 by 2030. Another issue is maintaining the country’s biodiversity and reversing the destruction of Indonesia’s natural ecosystem through activities such as logging and natural changes due to irregular weather.

4. Pakistan (Population: 173.6 million, Deaths: 150,000)

Air pollution, floods, landslides – Pakistan was hit hard in 2010, but DARA estimates that 250,000 people will die in Pakistan in 2030. Climate change is also projected to lead to famine in the country. Hunger killed an estimated 10,000 people in 2010, but DARA estimates 25,000 people will die annually due to starvation.

3. Nigeria (Population: 158.4 million, Deaths: 200,000)

It is carbon emissions that are the big killer in Nigeria with approximately 150,000 people dying each year due to indoor smoke ingestion, tuberculosis and lung cancer. DARA believes the reason for the indoor smoke is partially because of uneven electricity distribution, which forces many Nigerians to heat their homes and cook by burning fuels.

2. India (Population: 1.2 billion, Deaths: 1 million)

With such a large population and high levels of emissions, DARA projects that the number of deaths due to these factors will reach 1.5 million annually. Already, these factors are estimated to cost 1 million lives and adversely impact one-quarter of a billion people per year.

1. China (Population: 1.3 billion, Deaths 1.5 million)

It is astounding to think that 1.5 million people die each year in China due to climate change and carbon emissions,but it is even more incredible when you realise 1.4 million are the sole result of carbon pollution. A report by the Chinese government released in Jan. 2012, warned that global warming could cut grain output in the country by some 5%-20% by midcentury and will lead to “severe imbalances in China’s water resources” over the coming years.


Via Market Watch

Images: David Barrie and NASA Goddard Photo and Video