The Wealth Gap & CO2 Emissions

In the “What if only 100 people existed on earth?” video, the narrator started to discuss how the distribution of wealth is not only not well dispersed, but highlights that the top 1% (with an annual income of over $1 million) of the global population owns 50% of the global wealth. This kind of spending power resting on the shoulders, or should I say the wallets, of such few individuals really peaked my interest.

On further research I found that there is an interesting mathematical correlation between a state/country’s state of income inequality and their “aggregate rate of emissions is an increasing function of of mean income and that any inequality-reducing redistribution of income will increase the aggregate rate of emissions” (655). This research actually discusses an equation that proves this point:

I found it very interesting that there is actually a Y variable in the above formula to represent an inequality constant that is used in calculating the average rate of emissions.

4 thoughts on “The Wealth Gap & CO2 Emissions

  1. This is actually extremely interesting!!!! I too find wealth inequality in the US revolting. I’m so grateful to you for bringing this equation to my attention, as I have always wanted to put a factual/mathematical ‘face’ to the name. I am eager to learn more about this equation, and see it put to practical use. Perhaps we can discuss this topic further in class over the coming weeks.

    • I would also like to discuss this equation further in class because, while your description of the equation is great, I would like to understand more about how inequality constant changes across different parts of the world. Also I’d be interested to research if there are similar equations correlating other variables with climate change factors. Great find Angie!

  2. This is interesting. I think you did an excellent job at making an argument in regards to the correlation between wealth disparity and CO2 output. I would look towards China and India (although of late they’re taking tremendous strides to lower their carbon footprint) as prime examples of countries that have wealth disparity and insane carbon footprints.
    With that being said however, I firmly believe that lowering the wealth disparity in this country (by giving from rich to poor), will do almost nothing towards reducing the carbon footprint. My reasoning for this proves to be the institutionalized factory and manufacturing structures that have been ingrained into American society since the Industrial Revolution. In addition, by giving people more money (and therefore minimizing the wealth disparity) the people who once could not afford cars and other means of transportation may purchase these luxuries, which would prove counter intuitive toward lowering CO2 emissions in the first place.

  3. I thought this was very interesting but had a hard time understanding this equation from the quoted explanation from the article. I’m also curious about why this correlation may exist. What are the specific sources of CO2 that have greater emissions in wealthier countries? Is it that all sources are greater? I have many questions about this equation and what it measures that I hope to explore further.

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