Community: Taking Responsibility and Helping Others
Editor’s note: As this issue of Parvati Magazine goes to press, perhaps the two most preoccupying situations in the news are those in the Gaza strip, where hostilities continue to claim lives on both sides, and in the Ukraine, where a passenger jet carrying almost 300 people was shot down, with no survivors. Both these issues are so complex and changing so rapidly that we do not feel able to adequately address them in a single monthly column. We encourage you to read up about these issues and to visualize peace descending on these areas. In this column, we will address something that is getting less attention but also affects us all.
While some voices continue to persist that climate change is not real, the scientific community (and even insurance companies) have moved on from “if” to the “when” and “how” of climate change. Temperatures and sea levels are expected to rise. Some parts of the world will feel this impact much more strongly than others. For example, densely populated coastal areas in South Asia may see their land underwater within the coming century. This will displace hundreds of thousands of people who will need a place to live and a way to grow food. Such displacement will certainly lead to new migration patterns globally and could also feed conflicts as people contest access to arable land that remains. Ironically, many of the countries that stand to be affected the most by climate change are among the poorest. The impact they stand to face is not proportionate either to their wealth or to the degree to which they have contributed, through pollution, to the current global calamities. Instead, richer countries will be affected less, even though they have more resources to deal with the problem, and contributed more to the problem in the first place.
In an attempt to address this great inequity, the United Nations has created a fund to help poorer countries deal with climate change. Named the Green Climate Fund, this initiative has been sadly unsupported since its inception in 2010 while countries negotiated over its design. Germany has just been the first nation to step forward and support the fund, with an allocation of €750 million. Norway is expected to soon follow suit, announcing a pledge to the fund in September. Environmental organizations are calling on other rich countries like the United States, France, Japan and the UK to follow suit and pledge to this fund before the next round of UN climate negotiations takes place this fall.
Some may say that countries must attend to their own bottom line, and stay out of deficit, before contributing to a fund such as this. But if we look at the true bottom line, we see that many countries are running an environmental deficit, taking more from the earth than they put back, doing more harm than reparation.
With the environmental devastation of the tar sands, it behooves Canada as well to step up and donate to this fund, allocating some of the wealth generated in those sands to the parts of the world that will suffer because of them.
If this fund matters to you, we suggest that you contact your local federal government representative (Member of Parliament, congressman or senator) as well as your environment minister, and urge them to advocate for a sizable donation to the green climate fund. It is a humanitarian investment, an investment in peace. If we simply allow the devastation of climate change to affect these countries without our help, then it could come to pass that richer countries will be spending those dollars anyway in dealing with an onslaught of climate change refugees, or in sending troops to regions where conflict has erupted.