The Arctic keeps our planet cool. Loss of Arctic sea ice and snow cover will increase global warming by 25–40%. Unchecked, climate change will push as many as 130 million people into poverty over the next decade. Stabilising Arctic change is central to reducing this figure. Check the latest data related to the Arctic.
Global poverty is intricately tied to what happens in the Arctic.
The connection between climate change and its impact on human wellbeing is increasingly visible. Unchecked, climate change will push as many as 130 million people into poverty over the next 10 years – unravelling hard-won development gains – and could cause over 200 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050 (World Bank, 2022). The Arctic plays an important role in keeping our planet cool because its snow and ice reflects most of incoming solar energy back to space. However, as global warming melts more of the snow and ice, the warming is accelerated. This amplifies the risk of global heatwaves and weather extremes, and leads to reduced labour productivity and pushes even more people into poverty.
Currently the summer sea-ice cover is only 40% of its size in the 1980s, and springtime snow cover is half what it used to be (Arctic Report Card, 2021). By having less reflective cover, this loss of Arctic sea ice and snow cover drives global heating by 25 to 40 percent (Duan et al., 2019). Climate change can intensify water stress and severely hamper food security in climate-vulnerable regions, which renders locations uninhabitable and thus propels climate migration. In 2017, forced migration reached a peak of 68.5 million people; approximately 35 percent of which were displaced by extreme weather such as floods, tropical cyclones and wildfires (Podesta, 2019). Spread across 17 countries, with Qatar ranking highest, roughly one-fourth of the global population is currently reeling under extreme water stress (WRI, 2019). We are currently (2022) seeing the effects of significant flooding in Pakistan with a yet-to-be-determined financial toll on individuals and the state.
Arctic Indigenous people consistently fall below their country’s poverty line.
Inuit in the Canadian Arctic are suffering from one of the highest poverty rates globally. Some of the main causes of this poverty are traceable to socioeconomic remnants of European colonisation. These include assimilation politics, limitations in commercial seal trade, expensive food, poor health, and housing shortages (Borgen Project, 2020). Now, climate change is a key driver of poverty among Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic. In Sápmi, for example, changing weather patterns are increasing unseasonal winter precipitation, shifting between snow and rain, creating an ice crust over lichens which ultimately leaves the reindeer to starve or require the reindeer herders to rely on expensive supplementary fodder (Rosqvist, Inga and Eriksson, 2022). Elsewhere, the loss of sea ice affects traditional hunting, shifts in species migration patterns, and transportation issues (the latter also due to permafrost thaw).
The following gauges show up-to-date data regarding key indicators in the Arctic. These indicators clearly point to the crisis at hand.