Climate Change

The Least Responsible Will Suffer the Most

By Maggie Hughes
Published June 28, 2007

Dr. Keith Stewart of the World Wildlife Foundation told the participants at the recent Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) Conference on energy poverty that he had no intentions of getting involved with the green movement after he graduated University, until he ended up at a lecture by Dr. Stephen Lewis on climate change. That lecture changed his life and his attitude about the environment.

The World Wildlife Fund has 60 full time employees across the Globe, mostly scientists, who have been working for more than 15 years to save our habitat.

All those wildlife species that were saved from extinction due to deforestation or other actions by mankind will disappear if something isn't done immediately to stop the effects on our environment, he stated.

What Dr. Stewart likes to point out is our ability to think the destruction of our habitat will only affect the animals, and that we as a species will be somehow isolated from harm.

As things stand right now, and with immediate action to cut back on the levels of fossil fuel damage, he says we will still lose about 30 percent of the world's animal species.

"If we do everything right – it will be very very bad, for most people in the world."

Climate change is on the agenda now, but there are elections coming up. Will it continue to be an ongoing discussion after all the votes are in? And what will it mean for the poor?

Dr. Stewart is encouraged to see the LEIN organization holding these conference seminars because he sees the tie-in of environmental issues to poverty.

No matter what the policy, the poor are always the first to feel any negative outcome and will be impacted the hardest. What happened in New Orleans demonstrated just how vulnerable are those without the money to shelter themselves.

We can see the changes already in our own city of Hamilton, with more gated communities for those not quite rich enough to move to a safer part of the world.

What bothers Dr. Stewart and other environmental movement activists the most is what he calls "climate porn". As long as the disaster isn't happening directly to them, the focus is more of a fascination on the disaster, rather than what could be done to prevent it.

(This is what James Howard Kunstler refers to as the "consensus trance".)

Dr. Stewart told the audience it will be the insurance business that will make the biggest strides in dealing with climate change preparation, as they wisely have bought up the disaster relief firms.

Now they will get to pay themselves to clean up the mess.

Stephan Lewis said that if the "Slave Trade, NAFTA, IMF, and Imperialism, wasn't enough, of a legacy, the white race has managed to make places like Darfur hotter and took away the rain."

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report of fire, floods, famine, war, and pestilence sounds like it was lifted out of the book of Revelation.

To illustrate just how out of touch the North America lifestyle is with ecological science, Dr. Stewart said, "humanity has used more energy since the second world war than all the previous hundreds of thousands of years of human history.

"The average North American home has access to as much energy as an entire town during he colonial period," he said. "We are all delicately tied to wires and pipes for our creature comforts. Without running water what would we do?"

Remember the blackout?

He says we can make energy sources for people to have good lives and suggests we read Consuming Power by David Neigh.

"Those who have done the least to cause this problem will suffer the most from climate change."

Maggie Hughes hosted The Other Side, a weekly independent podcast. The Other Side looked at the issues that mainstream media tends to downplay or ignore, using interviews and lectures to show the effects that economic, corporate and political policies have on society. Maggie died in November 2012 after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. The Hamilton Independent Media Awards were established in her honour.

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