Chart of the Day – Climate Change

Chart of the Day – Climate Change October 25, 2010

This chart shows vulnerability to the effects of climate change:

As we can see, it is the poorest countries – those with the least responsibility for the carbon emissions that threaten the planet – that will be hit hardest. This is a major moral issue. And yet the arbiters of orthodoxy on the Catholic right – the American Papyst and friends – continue to fight all attempts to take this seriously, including pretending it even it is even happening.

But the effects of global warming are not hundreds of years in the future. In the poorest countries, they are already here. Africa is suffering from desertification, water shortages, drought, low crop yields, flooding in fastly-urbanizing cities, water stress in river basins, increased disease, a decline in fisheries, and increasing population displacement. This is directly affecting the livelihood and security of some of the poorest, most vulnerable, people on the planet. I heard a Ghanaian talk about coastal towns he remembers that simply have been washed away. As noted by another Ghanaian, Cardinal Peter Turkson (president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace), climate change “isn’t just a theory, it’s a real experience.”And of course, the very existence of many island nations is at stake. This is real. This is happening.

But climate change skepticism and denialism runs rampent on the American right. Here are my seven reasons why this see-no-evil approach has taken root in American politics, all related to underlying theology and political philosophy. I should probably add an eight – the vast slush funds from the energy industry, including from the Koch brothers, that gets funneled into hard-right politics. What’s absolutely terrifying is that as climate prospects worsen, the crop of American obstructionists becomes even more extreme – virtually none of the Republican Senate candidates (including the 20 or so with the greatest chance of success) believes in the basic scientific global warming consensus. Even modest proposals like cap-and-trade seem dead, thanks to this selfish extremism. And the Republicans have made preventing the EPA from regulating carbon emissions as one of their key objectives.

Does this map mean nothing to these people? Are they supposed to rely on private charity to deal with the effects of climate change?


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