The Unholy Trio

Two weeks ago, U2 lead singer Bono paid a visit to a packed auditorium at the World Bank. In an on-stage conversation with bank president Jim Yong Kim, Bono warned of “an ‘unholy trio’ of extreme poverty, extreme ideology and extreme climate” – which together threaten to stymie global efforts to alleviate poverty and human suffering.

The Irish musician and activist is widely recognized for his advocacy for the poor in Africa. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and was granted honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth. And now he’s warning members of one of the world’s leading development organizations about the threat of climate change to the poor of the world.

Before taking the top spot at the World Bank earlier this year, Jim Yong Kim co-founded the global medical NGO Partners in Health with Dr. Paul Farmer, and served as president of Dartmouth College. He added to Bono’s warnings his concern that catastrophic levels of global warming would be reached within the next generation, not in some distant time horizon.

Here are brief snippets from Bono’s comments, and Kim’s responses:

Bono: [An] “unholy trio” of extreme poverty, extreme ideology, and extreme climate make a very difficult weave; very strong, very hard to break. And we have to accept that the climate crisis could undo a lot of the work we do in development.

World Bank president Kim: The world at two or four degrees [Celsius hotter] is going to look so different. And it’s not three generations ahead. I have a three-year-old son. When he’s my age, he could be living in a completely different world. And right now, I don’t see the roots of that movement [to combat climate change] taking shape.

I’m no expert on the World Bank, and I know some people who offer only qualified endorsement of their work. But when leaders who have dedicated their lives to alleviating poverty raise the alarm about the climate crisis, maybe it’s time for people of goodwill to take action. The world will not do what it must without the United States. And the U.S. will not do what it must while most of our politicians think that we don’t care.

You can follow John Elwood’s writings at the Clothesline Report


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