Wednesday, 11 March 2009

So what is to be the fate of the worlds poor?

In Bangladesh, a million people a year are displaced by loss of land along rivers. Rising river and sea levels and more frequent tropical storms are facts of life in many Third World countries.

Prince Charles and his wife are presently in Latin American, promoting energy efficiency and measures to combat climate change, and he summed up the future that so many will face if actions are not taken to carry out these actions. He said "If we do nothing, the consequences for every person on this earth will be severe and unprecedented, with vast numbers of environmental refugees, social instability and decimated economies -- far worse than anything which we are seeing today. How can we begin to address poverty if we haven't first ensured our planet is actually inhabitable?"

As if to underline this, at Co2penhagen, climate scientists said on Monday, that the U.N.'s climate change panel may be severely underestimating the sea-level rise caused by global warming, and called for swift cuts in greenhouse emissions. Professor Stefan Rahmstorf reported that "The sea-level rise may well exceed one meter (3.28 feet) by 2100 if we continue on our path of increasing emissions. Even for a low emission scenario, the best estimate is about one meter." "It's the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Key findings of the report include:
• 75-250 million people across Africa could face water shortages by 2020
• Crop yields could increase by 20% in East and Southeast Asia, but decrease by up to 30% in Central and South Asia
• Agriculture fed by rainfall could drop by 50% in some African countries by 2020
• 20-30% of all plant and animal species at increased risk of extinction if temperatures rise between 1.5-2.5C
• Glaciers and snow cover expected to decline, reducing water availability in countries supplied by melt water

The scientific work reviewed by IPCC scientists includes more than 29,000 pieces of data on observed changes in physical and biological aspects of the natural world. Eighty-nine percent of these, it believes, are consistent with a warming world. But is it just the Third World that would suffer with a 1 meter sea level rise? No, because more than 70 percent of the world's population lives on coastal plains and 11 of the world's 15 largest cities are on the coast or estuaries.

If sea levels rise a meter, the streets of Miami could end up underwater while New Orleans could become part of the Gulf of Mexico. The Thames Barrier would, when faced with a North Sea tidal surge such as occurred in 1953 combined with higher sea levels, be unlikely to cope with the event and much of Holland, where 1,800 people drowned in the 1953 event would be flooded, as would much of Norfolk on Englands East Coast.

But that is not immediate; the flooding due to climate change is already reaping havoc in the Third World now, and their future? That is actually in our hands. How we behave, what we purchase, all our actions, from turning off lights to reduce our carbon emissions to giving to charities that help them, will affect them right now, and us in the future.

Matthew 34-40. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

The worrying sections of the above I have not included are verses 41-46... Do you have the courage to read them?

Monday 16th addition.
After I wrote the above, on Wednesday 11th, SCIENCE DAILY published on Monday 16th an article entitled "Sea Level Rise Due To Global Warming Poses Threat To New York City".


equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Oh Fr Peter, you only need listen to Rush Limbaugh to learn that, "Man-mad global warming is a complete hoax!"
Perhaps you are fortunate enough not to receive Rush broadcasts in the UK. Unfortunately, he and other either evil or ignorant fools of his ilk have so much of the population convinced of this lie that I fear we are really up against it. Powerful post.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

So many in the wealthy west will not accept the major problem of climate change until the water is lapping around their ankles. Unfortunately those in the third world don't have that option.


Andrew Clarke said...

As you say, we could be facing horrific calamity because of the unGodly way people use things, avaricously and without respect for God's Creation. The Christians of the world may be the way to change this where those 'wise in their own eyes' may not. Something that has interested me for years is the desalination of sea water. I do realize it is not as simple as it looks to do major things; but it is also true that if a plant can desalinate 50,000 gallons of water a day then huge areas of land could be revegetated so as to counteract global warming;
millions of people could have access to safe drinking water; and in the process, the residue from the distilling process could be trapped so that great volumes of toxic and foreign matter now in the sea could be removed. It must have some possibilities! I'm grateful for a site like yours which discusses these things from a Christian perspective.