Month 8, Day 20: Time To Make Some Connections

Continuing on the theme of political upheaval in Pakistan in the aftermath of the flood, the New York Times had a good analysis (which naturally didn’t mention climate change). I started out reading the article thinking I’d write a standard admonitory letter, bla bla bla disgrace to the media bla bla bla well-informed citizenry bla bla bla.

Then I saw that Kerry was headed over there, and tonight’s letter formed itself.

The UN Development Programme’s statistics on CO2 as a proportion of world population are available here, and are well worth a look.

Dear Senator Kerry –

We learn that the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan is going to have drastic and unpredictable consequences for America’s own foreign policy in the region. The shape of our aid to Pakistan is certainly going to be profoundly transformed. I was glad to hear that you are headed there to assess the situation, for your experience in foreign affairs is invaluable.

It is a tragic coincidence that the disaster in Pakistan should also intersect with another policy area in which you have great knowledge and expertise — climate change.

Pakistan’s inundation, like New York’s heat wave, Russia’s drought, and Washington’s blizzard, is part of our new post-Industrial weather pattern — climate chaos.

Climate chaos was predicted twenty-five years ago and climatologists have been affirming and substantiating their predictions ever since. We’re just getting the first taste of it now, and even if we had taken decisive action in this Congress, climate chaos is going to get worse before it gets a lot better.

As you know.

Please use your public statements on the subject of Pakistan to make the point that the region’s political instability and upheaval is a diplomatic consequence of climate change. Please use your statements on the Senate floor to make the point crystal clear to your colleagues.

Even as America mobilizes to do its very best to alleviate Pakistan’s climatic miseries, we must focus on the conditions that gave rise to them.

The proportion of a nation’s CO2 emissions to its share of world population is a useful measure. America’s is five times greater. Pakistan’s is one-fifth. We put enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere; Pakistan’s contribution, by contrast, amounts to a rounding error. In other words, Pakistanis didn’t create the climate chaos that is now destroying their country. We did.

Weather-triggered political instability is a predictable consequence of climate change, and yet another reason that quick and robust legislative action must be taken.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *