Saturday, May 30, 2009

Climate Change Kills 300,000 A Year?

From the Guardian:

Global Warming is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.

Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year - more than the all present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.

Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: "Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters ... bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability".

I haven't had a chance to read through the report myself -- which is always something that's really, really important to do when you're talking about think tank reports, because a lot of them are a lot less than credible -- but I wouldn't say the number seems particularly unbelievable to me. Record droughts, hurricanes (called cyclones in much of the world), and floods have been recorded all over the planet recently, and these carry a heavy human toll.

A lot of people who seem to be on the side of things where they rant and rave about how global warming is this gigantic plot by liberals to make them drive Volvos (first of all, we want you to drive mini coopers) don't really seem to take into account the level of human devastation caused by a lot of this stuff.

The environment is often viewed in the US as an issue that deals primarily with saving polar bears or something like that. While saving polar bears is actually a pretty admirable goal -- they're freaking cute -- the bigger issue with the environment has little to do with endangered species and a lot to do with human beings. This planet is pretty rare, and keeping it safe and healthy is really important if we care about future generations.

I do hear the nonsense rhetoric from people, especially young people who don't have kids or that many obligations, that this climate change stuff isn't going to hurt them, so they shouldn't care. Well, that's fine and dandy, you have a right to be selfish, but societies also have a right to stop people from being hurt by your actions -- which is basically what all this CO2 we're pumping into the air is doing. It's destroying people's health, warming the planet, setting off disastrous weather patterns.

True, as rich, polluting countries we aren't taking out guns and just shooting developing world citizens in the head (although we do some of that in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, eh nevermind we are doing that), but we are polluting so heavily that we're assuring a large chunk of them will die from easily preventable diseases. That's a form of violence, and we need to deal with that like mature, moral adults -- not like selfish kids who have read through Atlas Shrugged one too many times.