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Original post made
on May 27, 2009
I hope that was out of context, because John Inks has always struck me as more thoughtful than that. We need to pay attention to the other things too, but climate change is going to exacerbate many of them, and--like most environmental problems--going to disproportionately impact the poor.
Elaboration on Climate Collaborative remarks:
The preamble to the Climate Collaborative charter claims "The most wide-ranging and profound environmental challenge facing humanity is climate change." I suggested there many other types of environmental disasters including floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, unsanitary conditions, disease and agriculture failures that have much more immediate and acute impacts on humanity than the earth's atmosphere warming slightly. The former events have much more serious consequences on the well being of economically disadvantaged people today relative to climate change. Not to dismiss longer term threats to the atmosphere, but focus on climate change vs. other devastating events, natural and man-made, overlooks more evident impacts on humanity. The charter also says, " . . . our homeland security and economic stability are threatened by our reliance on unpredictable supplies of hydrocarbon fuels from unstable governments." In terms of human well being, buying hydrocarbons fuels from unstable governments is not that relevant. In terms of global stability and human well being, the greater challenge is that many of these governments are responsible for political repression and economic conditions that limit the ability of people to prosper and properly prepare for environmental disasters.
With the exception of volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, every item on Ink's list is directly, and adversely, affected by climate change. Even a one or two degree difference could result in widespread chaos -- floods, droughts, mass agricultural failure -- which in turn leads to war, disease, etc.
Also, to say that "buying hydrocarbons fuels from unstable governments is not that relevant" because "many of these governments are responsible for political repression and economic conditions that limit the ability of people to prosper and properly prepare for environmental disasters" is similarly missing the point. Those very petro-governments (like Iran, Venezuela or Saudi Arabia) are propped up and allowed to persist exactly because we are giving them our money in exchange for hydrocarbon fuels. Without our oil money, none of these countries would have two nickels to rub together, and their autocratic governments would become destabilized.
Inks has a right to express any view he likes. And it's fair to say that a small City Council has no business wading into this geopolitical stuff. But I think he's weirdly off-kilter on this issue -- getting the general facts right but drawing the wrong conclusions.
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