What is uneven development and how will it be affected by climate change?
The conundrum of uneven development has occupied some of the world’s finest minds for many years without ever being fully resolved. The basic issue is that some parts of the world are more developed than others – but not just at the national scale. There is unevenness at the regional level, the local or provincial level, the community level and even within households, at the very lowest scale levels. Of course, there are many explanations of why this occurs: the distribution of resources, for example, which favours some parts of the world over others but this in itself is insufficient: there are many countries with rich resources that are either wholly or partly poor.
Another possible explanation that some people prefer relates to virtue – this view has it that the people who are successful tend to be better, more industrious, more intelligent or just generally holier people than those others. This is a view that has no basis in reality.
Further explanations adopt mixed or eclectic paradigms (i.e. more than one answer at the same time) or relate to the nature of the capitalist system as being one that, through its very processes and nature, promotes different forms of uneven development which change in nature and extent over the course of time. This is clear when looking at any town or city and how different parts become richer or poorer over the years as fashions and trends change.
When it comes to climate change, then, what are the implications for uneven development? One thing which is certainly evident is that it is changing the demand and hence the price for land. Low lying areas which are threatened by rising sea levels and which may have been desirable and expensive before are losing value, while upland areas are increasing. New money will find its way into these upland areas and that will mean the exit of those people, especially the poor people, who used to live there, through the process known as ‘gentrification.’
Other changes will be less predictable: since the results of climate change at this period are unpredictable, it is impossible to say what kind of changes in society will occur. Those areas or locations which have resources or characteristics that are better adapted to change will appreciate in value and those which are not will depreciate. This applies as much to people as to inanimate objects. Rich men, for example, might well find they are choosing different kinds of women to be wives than they are at present owing to some aspect of climate change.