Environment and Inequality: A Complex Relationship
The objective of this article is to discuss the mutual relationship between environment and inequality. This is a subject that received few attention from the environmental point of view. The economic perspective is usually predominant. Environment is a broad, transversal subject which keeps interfaces with a number of disciplines and affects important dimensions of the human life. We selected two central issues in order to explain their mutual relations with poverty and inequality: climate change and biodiversity. The relation between climate change and poverty/inequality is easier to be understood, in spite of the fact that it is a complex relationship. It is sufficient to consider the natural disasters and the increasing number of environmental refugees. However, in some exceptional cases, global warming may have a favorable effect on poor population living in very cold geographic areas. Insofar as biodiversity is concerned, the question is more controversial. There is a visible dependence of natural resources on the part of poor populations. The depletion of natural resources has a direct impact on the survival of these populations, and this will bring about increased inequality. But the need to conserve biodiversity in protected areas may affect the source of subsistence of low-income population.