Thursday, June 4, 2009

Global Warming: mortality in human terms

Seems my environmental world revolves around two things: ocean conservation (with an especially soft spot for sharks) and climate change. And as I post about issues related to climate change, I notice they often revolve around a specific species - a bird, a fish, a cute fuzzy animal.

And this is where the cynics often step in. "What's so important about some little frog? Why the fuss over a stupid clam?" And so you bite your tongue and try to systematically take them through the intricate web of nature to get them to understand the importance of this plant or that animal and how relevant it is to our own lives.

And their bored expression just says it all.

So, let's put it into terms that they might better understand: 300,000 people dead each year.

The Global Humanitarian Forum just released a report, titled "Human Impact Report: Climate Change - The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis", in which this startling conclusion is reached based on temperature change calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the report's analysis of deaths caused by climate-related malnutrition and disease.

300 Million people are already seriously affected by global warming and that number is expected to double by 2030. The countries considered the most vulnerable are in the semi-arid dry land belt including the Sahara, Middle East, Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and parts of the United States. Australia and the Arctic are also considered at great risk.

"This is one of the reasons why I've described climate change as all encompassing," said the forum president, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan. "This threat to our health, this threat to food production, this threat to security. It raises political tensions, it will have people on the move - and they are on the move - and many more which will bring tensions."

The report comes out 6 months before the planned United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, where a new post-Kyoto climate agreement is to be forged.

300,000 dead. In some circles, that's called genocide.

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