Environmental Racism, Global Warming Edition

As armchair critics debate endlessly on the virtues and vices of carbon trading versus carbon taxes, they are in no danger of losing their armchairs (or their homes, or their money, or their livelihood). Africa and Asia, not so lucky.

Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms – New York Times

Two-thirds of the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that can persist in the air for centuries, has come in nearly equal proportions from the United States and Western European countries. Those and other wealthy nations are investing in windmill-powered plants that turn seawater to drinking water, in flood barriers and floatable homes, and in grains and soybeans genetically altered to flourish even in a drought. In contrast, Africa accounts for less than 3 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide from fuel burning since 1900, yet its 840 million people face some of the biggest risks from drought and disrupted water supplies, according to new scientific assessments. As the oceans swell with water from melting ice sheets, it is the crowded river deltas in southern Asia and Egypt, along with small island nations, that are most at risk.

I read another story about Bangladesh recently, apparently in Bangladesh, there will be both flooding and drought due to cimate change!

We are fighting climate change on the front line,” Professor Nishat
told The Independent earlier this year. “But the battle has to be
integrated across all countries.”

Bangladesh has good reason to feel aggrieved at global warming. Its
annual carbon emissions only 0.172 tons per capita, compared to 21 tons
in the US.

If the rivers dry up, it would leave Bangladesh completely at the mercy of the rains.

What is to be done? There are no simple answers, but this is a global issue that requires a global solution. There needs to be a relentless push for efficiency and conservation, with technologies being made available sans intellectual property and patent protection to help India and China control emissions. Efficiency is where the low hanging fruit are. This wikipedia article is a decent compendium of options.

Europe has started on the control path already. The U.S has to act, will it do anything this year? Or do we have to wait for this? I am very cynical about the West’s ability and willingness to act in this regard. When the prime contributors and benefiters of a harmful action are not the same as the ones who will face the worst consequences, where’s the will? As life in the third world becomes more miserable, the rich countries can always build more walls.

No fun and games here!

3 comments for “Environmental Racism, Global Warming Edition

  1. November 19, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    It’s a shame what happened to Bangladesh. I hope the world steps up and helps them.