Climate Justice 4
“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.”
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because I have been anointed to give good news to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken heart; to preach freedom to the captives, and bring sight to the blind; to release the oppressed.”
“Developed Nations” Still Developing: Grasping Reality
In the international arena, countries tend to be discussed as fitting into one of two categories: developed or developing (formerly 3rd world). This categorization method, though convenient for some purposes, has served to concoct an inaccurate image of division between haves and the have-nots, those who have arrived, and those still struggling to catch up. This ‘one or the other’ concept has not been helpful in the task of global realization of climate change, simply because in this case, the greater stores of local knowledge and personal experience lie in the ‘developing countries’. These are the countries that have already endured the most damaging ecological consequences. They are most vulnerable and least equipped, yet still must face the challenge of developing without the guarantee of help from fossil fuels. At the forefront of mitigation and awareness efforts, they are making firm commitments to carbon emissions reductions and green energy alternatives. Costa Rica is a shining example, with its aggressive commitment to total carbon neutrality by 2021. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that six major developing nations have already reduced their carbon emissions by 300 million tons per year. Most fascinating are their reasons for it; “Many of these efforts are motivated by common drivers: economic development and poverty alleviation, energy security, and local environmental protection.” Simply put, developing countries see opportunity in adapting to our changing energy world. Developed nations must also grasp this reality and be prepared to let go of their long held fossil fuel dependencies.
Demanding 5 worlds: We can’t keep this up
Those of us who live within ‘developed’ nations must accept the reality of our own daily contribution to climate change. Home construction, transportation, waste disposal, water use, food consumption—all of these activities demand energy. The fact is that each individual person makes certain demands of the Earth’s ecosystems simply by virtue of his or her lifestyle. These demands, when measured as a whole, together are known as one’s individual ecological footprint, measured in global hectares. If every person in the world had the same sized ecological footprint as the average citizen of most developed nations, we would need the resources of at least five earths to sustain the energy demands. The fact remains today that the process of development and industrialization requires a tremendous amount of energy. It was on the back of fossil fuels that the developed Western nations were enabled to industrialize, and by them that developing nations are now following suit. As the international demand for energy rises, so will the level of strain placed upon our fragile global ecosystem. We must consider the consequences of demanding of our single earth the resources meant for five.
Your Kids — what they will inherit.
“Under a “business as usual” scenario, the outlook is serious: even with modest UN projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb CO2 waste and keep up with natural resource consumption.” Humanity is simply demanding increasingly more from the Earth than in can provide. Draughts, natural disasters, deforestation, overgrazing, collapse of fisheries, food insecurity and the rapid extinction of species—these are the very real impending consequences of our rising energy demands that future generations must bear. By 2020 in Africa alone, for example, climate change is expected to expose 75 million to 250 million more people to increased water stress. In addition to impacts on human beings, it is estimated that 20- 30% of God’s creatures could be committed to extinction by 2050, making global warming the largest single threat to biodiversity. It is unavoidable that the consequences of our neglect will be visited upon our children and grandchildren.