Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

A study connects climate change to the worsening gap between rich and poor around the globe. (Laszlo Ilyes/Flickr/cc.)

Robin Hood in Reverse: Climate Change Takes from Poor, Gives to Rich

A new study finds that climate change is triggering a massive reallocation of resources to the world's wealthiest countries

Nika Knight

A warming climate is exacerbating global inequality by pushing critical natural resources, such as fish stocks, away from impoverished equatorial regions and making them more exploitable by the wealthy, according to a study released on Wednesday.

While the gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. and worldwide has expanded at a mind-boggling pace in recent decades, the new study, designed by scientists at Princeton, Rutgers, Yale, and Arizona State, shows that the frightening speed with which the globe is warming will only compound the economic trend.

The study looked specifically at fish to better understand the phenomenon.

"We tend to think of climate change as just a problem of physics and biology," Malin Pinsky, professor of ecology and evolution at Rutgers explained to Rutgers Today. "But people react to climate change as well, and at the moment we don't have a good understanding for the impacts of human behavior on natural resources affected by climate change."

In an effort to examine those impacts, Pinsky observed to the newspaper that “[w]hat we find is that natural resources like fish are being pushed around by climate change, and that changes who gets access to them."

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked at what the authors call "inclusive wealth," or the "sum of a community's capital assets."

The researchers looked at natural resources, such as fish and forests, but also took into account a community's infrastructure—buildings, roads, factories—and the education level and health of its human population, Rutgers Today reports.

The newspaper wrote:

The stronger and more conservation-oriented the natural resource management in a community, the higher the value that community places on its natural resources, whether those resources are increasing or diminishing, Pinsky reports. If wealthier communities and countries are more likely to have strong resource management, then these wealthy groups are more likely to benefit, thus exacerbating inequality.

The study used data collected by Pinsky in his studies of fish migration and applied a mathematical formula created by Yale University economist Eli Fenichel to illustrate the connection between the migration of natural resources and the migration of wealth. The scientists created two fictitious fishery-dependent communities, Northport and Southport, and used Fenichel's formula to examine potential future interactions between the two communities and their fish stocks.

The findings also echo the changes and depletion reported by commercial and Indigenous fisheries around the world.

The researchers observed in the study that "a changing climate can reallocate natural capital, change the value of all forms of capital, and lead to mass redistribution of wealth."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo