Thursday, September 27, 2007

Environmental Stewardship

"Even though the local effects of global climate change are extremely hard to forecast, we can be sure that many of the world's poorest places are at risk of being overwhelmed by climate shocks coming from outside their borders. Rising ocean levels associated with long-term warming will likely inundate impoverished regions such as Bengladesh and small island economies. Shifting patterns of rainfall, such as the declines in precipitation evident in Africa's Sahel and those associated with long-term warming in the Indian Ocean, are likely to be experienced elsewhere. An increasing frequency and intensity of El Niño climate cycles could become an important disturbance for hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Changes in ocean chemistry associated with rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide could poison the coral reefs, with attendant disastrous effects on coastal ecosystems and coastal economies.
The poorest of the poor are mostly innocent victims in this drama. The major cause of long-term climate change, fossil fuel combustion, is disproportionately the result of rich-country actions. Any responsible global approach to poverty reduction should include much greater attention to three things. First, the rich countries themselves, and particularly the United States, will have to live up to their longstanding commitment under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to the «stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.» Second, the rich countries will have to give added financial assistance to the poor countries to enable them to respond effectively to, or at least to cope with, the changes ahead. Third, as I noted earlier, the rich countries will have to invest more in climate science to gain a clearer understanding of how the changes already under way are likely to affect the world's poorest people, as well as the rest of us."

(Jeffrey Sachs, "The end of poverty, economic possibilities for our time", chapter "A global compact to end poverty")

That's why I am enraged when I hear people like Claude Allègre, former french minister of research, saying that the changes due to global warming are not anything to worry about, that we will have no problem copping with, that it may be bad for the Africans but it will be good for the Eskimos. Well, how many Eskimos are there compared to Africans, Asians, latin Americans ? Even if countries lying in temperate areas will have no problems copping with the changes, we will see how they cope with massive migrations of people from the parts of the world that will become intolerable to live in. I don't think DNA or french litteracy tests will hold them out for long...

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