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Tuesday
Apr232013

The Environment and Climate Change

Climate change is just one expression of how our unbridled consumption of oil is harming people and the planet. More widely, our dependence on fossil fuels is connected to human rights abuses, conflicts, and economic inequality.

Climate change is an ominous reminder that there are limits to what human beings should be doing in earth community. Unfortunately, at this point, the impacts of climate change are occurring primarily in the global South, and they are too easily ignored by the societies of the global North, which are primarily responsible for causing it. The 2009 Global Humanitarian Report, The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis, notes that every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, forces some 50 million additional people to go hungry and drives over 10 million additional people into extreme poverty.

As such, climate change is a critical moral issue for the people of the global North, including Canada. We must learn to live within the limits of what is sustainable for all in earth community, and we must look to the people of the global South to help us to see what needs to change in our patterns of living.

The United Nations conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, December 2009 failed to take any significant steps forward in terms of addressing climate change. In response to this failure, President Evo Morales of Bolivia initiated The Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, April 19-22, 2010. Close to 35,000 people (Indigenous Peoples, NGOs, political leaders and citizens from every continent) met in Cochabamba, Bolivia to identify and begin working toward the deep transformations that are needed if we are to find solutions to climate change.

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