America’s stance on climate change deadly


LAST week President Obama issued an executive order to help states build stronger infrastructure including roads and bridges, aimed at resisting a more extreme climate in which droughts, floods and intense storms have become more and more common.
The Environmental Protection Agency has organised a series of hearings that seek to consult with the public on the development of regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
In the hearing, Representative Dennis Hedke, a Republican from Wichita drew laughter from attendants when he proffered the common argument by his party that there is no such thing as global warming and that these trends scientists claim to be noting are false.
As the debate heats up on global warming, a small and relatively little-known federal agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the government office in charge mobilising private capital in pursuit of international development is looking into the extent to which government facilitated private sector developments should be required to take into account how those ventures impact on climate change.
OPIC since its establishment has mobilised and insured some US$400 billion in investments in more than 4 000 projects in 150 countries.
The agency claims that currently its renewable energy portfolio stands at US$1 billion.
The question then becomes, given how much American corporations have invested in fossil fuels and are the world’s leading polluters, how far does US$1 billion go in countering the harm done on the world’s climate?
The issue of global warming is more often than not presented as a problem that will affect future generations.
However, there is mounting evidence to demonstrate that climate change is neither distant nor theoretical.
A report released in September by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society analysed 12 extreme weather events in 2012 and found compelling evidence that human-caused climate change contributed to half of them.
The effects of climate change by scientific studies have indicated that among other things most places are going to continue getting warmer especially at night and in winter.
The temperature changes will no doubt benefit some regions while harming others.
Warmer climates will definitely have a direct negative effect on agriculture in the southern regions and given that parts of Africa continue to be ravaged by drought, 10 to 15 years from now, these droughts could become permanent trends and force Africa to rely on food imports from the North.
Food security is critical for the continent’s development and its stability.
Warmer weathers also bring new strains of diseases.
Malaria bearing mosquitoes are moving into previously unaffected altitudes infecting cities like Nairobi.
Sea levels will continue to rise, submerging coastlines where millions of people live including cities like New York.
The past few years when I have returned home for the holidays it has become common to see headlines reporting flooding in Mozambique during the rainy season, floods will eventually force many to leave their traditional homes moving inland and fighting for land is nothing new to the African man and woman.
This year, the worst flood in a decade killed at least 38 people in Mozambique and left 150 000 homeless.
Ten of the 15 largest cities in the developing world including Mumbai and Cairo are at the risk of flooding from rising sea levels.
Rising seas will eventually swallow low-lying land in countries such as India and Bangladesh.
Americans are being hit harder and harder each year.
Extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires and droughts are growing ever more frequent and severe.
Despite this evidence, corporations that have been fingered in playing a major part in the human cause of global warming continue to fund research and propagate that ‘global warming is a myth’.
More than 17 000 are said to have signed a petition circulated by the Oregon Institute of Science and medicine saying in part that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other green gases is causing or will cause in the foreseeable catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate.”
I guess these same scientists would have no problem believing that smoking does not cause cancer.
Perhaps the best way to prod America to take global warming seriously would be to put dollar value to the loss that individuals and corporations would suffer due to climate change.
The antagonists of global warming have been throwing huge figures around, deriding any calls for government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions claiming that any action to curtail the release of greenhouse gases would bankrupt companies, creating unemployment and virtually shut American industries.
They go on to point the finger at countries like China, arguing that they are not doing anything about global warming so why should America do something indicating that American corporations would suffer added cost if they were to go green, thereby losing their edge on the world market.
The debate on climate change in America is best exemplified by a story someone sent me some time ago.
“A farmer and his wife bought a mousetrap and set it in the house. “The mouse discovered this and hurried to inform the other farm animals including the chickens, the pig and the cow who all indicated that the mouse trap had no bearing on their wellbeing and the mouse was on his own.
“One night a loud noise was heard in the house, the mouse trap had caught something.
“The farmer’s wife went to see if the mouse had been caught, unfortunately instead of a mouse, it was a large venomous snake which ended up biting her.
“The farmer’s wife was rushed to the hospital and she returned home after a while she developed a fever.
“The farmer killed the chicken to make his wife soup to cure her fever.
“The sickness continued and friends and neighbours came to visit her around the clock.
“The farmer had to feed them so he butchered the pig.
“Eventually the wife died and the farmer slaughtered the cow to provide meat for her funeral.”
The morale of the story is that we are connected.
Global warming’s effects might not be yet felt everywhere, but gradually we are all going to be caught up and it might be too late.


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