I hyperbolate only slightly. If climate change will devastate these countries – if some of them will be completely obliterated by the results of our actions – is this not equal to war? Who can blame them for walking out of the Copenhagen talks?
If this seems extreme, consider this example: If a river flows through two countries and the upstream country decides to take all the water, there will certainly be war. The downstream country will have no choice. The same parallel applies with climate change: the developed nations have caused most of the global warming thus far, and, much worse, have denied and obstructed action to reduce the impacts.
There is plenty of information about the devastation climate change will wreak first and worst on the developing countries:
- Rising seas will drown some countries completely (Maldives, Tuvalu, etc) and force the evacuation of hundreds of millions (India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, etc)
- Spreading deserts have already driven many from their homes in the Sudan, and resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands
- Malaria and other plagues are spreading
- Growing season changes will result in crop failures, food shortfalls, and starvation
- Water resources are already stressed; climate change will eliminate the Himalayan glaciers that provide water to 3 billion people, some with nukes
The sinking countries are not going quietly, and nor should they. We in the West have been corrupted by false conservatives who conserve nothing and consume all. They have attempted to make greed virtuous, but this cannot be done. Our ‘leaders’ will protect their cronies until the end – unless we stand up to them, and the developing countries need to prod us into action.
Dear G77: We’re going to try to talk you into more talks. If you don’t insist upon immediate action to prove sincerity, then you will be destroyed. Here are five things the G77 should do right now; some to wake the rest of us up and some to demonstrate a commitment to justice and fairness. Here they are:
- Charge Rex Tillerson with crimes against humanity. He is the CEO of ExxonMobil, which has funded climate denial public relations groups for many years. Make Tillerson an example; it is time paid deniers are held responsible for their actions.
- Start planning to switch to OpenOffice and Ubuntu. It’s a small warning shot, but imagine if India, China, and every other developing country switched from Microsoft products to open source software; Microsoft would lose the entire developing world market and those countries would save a fortune in licensing fees to the West.
- Formally request that all developed nations give up a portion of their land to displaced people. For example, The United States could give up Kauai to give the people of the Maldives a new home.
- Formally request that Canada and the other developed countries accept climate refugees. For example, Bangladesh may see upwards of 17M people driven from their land by rising seas in the next 40 years; Canada should agree to accept those refugees.*
- Limit corporate powers and size drastically and switch to cooperatives. This will stick a knife in the heart of American capitalist ideology, which has produced mega-corporations with far too much influence over governments.
To a Canadian or American, these actions sound extreme, ridiculous, even insane. To someone who is going to lose his home, his livelihood, and his land to become a climate refugee, they sound more than fair.
If you want to see some action from Canada, do these things. If you want the U.S. to get serious about climate change, do these things. Until then, we’re just going to keep talking. Do not back off; follow through. Serious action is needed to demonstrate sincerity.
UPDATE Dec. 18, 2009
* It has been brought to my attention that I appear to be advocating for Canada to accept 17M Bangladeshis, for the United States to give over Kauai, and so on. I am not. I make three points here: First, The sinking countries should be requesting this as a way to wake us up. Second, I am trying to wake Canadians and Americans up to the enormity of what they are doing to others. And third, I want us to consider what is right. Call me an old-fashioned conservative, but I believe that you try to do no harm in your life. When you do a wrong, and we all do, you try to right it as best you can. In our case, Canada is obstructing a climate deal for the benefit of the tar sands, aka money. We are doing things that are harming others. You don’t do that, if you have a conscience. And if we keep doing it, do we not have a moral obligation to try to make things right?