October 3, 2008

Urgent need for action

Filed under: Development, Environment, Politics/News — Tags: , — 4fooey @ 10:02 am

Imagine the situation…. millions of people are threatened, their livelihoods at risk, their homes at risk, increased hardship, instability, wars even, etc. No, I’m not talking about the fallout from the current financial crisis, but the probable effects of climate change.

The evidence that CO2 and other emissions are warming the planet are incontravertible — in the past few months/years numerous research organisations and NGOs have shown this (including the Stearn report, various UN reports etc), and although there are still a few doubters both political and scientific, it is now time to take URGENT action.

Fast forward to now, and everyone is gripped by the financial crisis and the issue of climate change has taken a back seat. I would suggest the two things are linked, in both causes and effects. Our modern lifestyles and our rising level of prosperity have created climate change — the rise in living standards has been fuelled by the past few years of “living beyond our means”, both in terms of the “easy money/credit” from banks and increasing levels of consumption of goods, energy and resources. We are now racing towards a future of disastrous effects due to our profligate lifestyles and culture.

If we are to face a period of scaling down our lifestyles, of cutting back, due to economic hardship, then this might be a silver lining on some very dark clouds — if everyone borrows less, buys less, consumes less, then we damage the planet less. But don’t get me wrong the financial crisis is a disaster and I would rather it was not happening now. We need strong economies to tackle problems like climate change and other important issues (like those on the UN millennium development goals) — and I’m hopeful that America and the wider world will recover from this crisis.

Short term we need to get ourselves out of the dire financial mess, but longer term we need to rebuild the financial system, and the global economy as a whole, in a more sustainable way, to create a system that truly helps the majority of people towards a better life. It’s somewhat disappointing that relatively bold and swift action is being taken to solve the financial crisis, while the problem of climate change is potentially more damaging and yet nothing so radical is being done.

Update 14/11/08: Although the threat to humanity and planet from Climate change and its effects are far greater than the effects of the financial crisis or of global terrorism, large numbers of people seem to ignore the threat. This phenomenon is examined here: Are Human Beings Hard-Wired to Ignore the Threat of Catastrophic Climate Change?


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