Friday, November 02, 2012

Connecting the Dots on Climate Change



Hurricane Sandy and now Mayor Bloomberg have finally managed to inject climate change into next week's election, but before Nature intervened, Mark Hertsgaard made the foreign policy-climate connection for PRI's The World,
Two years in Pakistan, there was a climate change disaster, terrible monsoon rains and resulting floods that put 14 million Pakistanis out of their homes, made them homeless. If you want to know why there’s that kind of unrest in Pakistan, and unhappiness, these kinds of natural disasters are a perfect breeding ground for terrorists. Or Mali, the African nation of Mali was mentioned by Governor Romney. I reported from Mali for The World, and in the north of Mali, why is it that there’s this resurgence of terrorists and radicalism. It’s partly because nobody there can farm any more because the climate has become too inhospitable. And more and more of the planet is threatening to come under those conditions unless we really get serious about reducing not just the emissions but putting in place real adaptation programs to build the resilience in those places.

We learned reading Hertsgaard's Earth Odyssey some years ago that environmental disasters have human rights consequences, so it is useful to have this reminder of the relationship between climate and unrest..

A few weeks back, Herstsgaard connected the dots between the farm bill and climate change in an NYT editorial decrying the proposed bill's failure to encourage farmers to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and aid them in taking measures to protect crops from weather extremes. In his latest post-Sandy article for The Nation, Hertsgaard continues to find fault with the presidential candidates failure to discuss their plans (if they exist!) to address climate change. He is optimistic about the technical fixes (for more on that see his book Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth) but not so much about the political way forward, "No president can cross Big Oil in the way that is required to defuse the climate crisis without the help of a powerful and sustained popular movement" and to that end he points us to 350.org's Do the Math Tour launching immediately after the election to build the community for change. Check to see if there's an event near you and meanwhile you can support their call for Big Oil to contribute to Sandy recovery.
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