Climate Change, Population and Climate Change

Why We Need a Global Approach to Combat Climate Change

Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama laid out his administration’s long-awaited plan to escalate domestic and international efforts to address climate change. It highlighted the need to cut carbon pollution, prepare the United States to adapt to existing impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts. The plan sets out to foster cooperative efforts between developed nations and support developing nations to ensure their development proceeds in a sustainable fashion.

The focus of Obama’s plan is primarily domestic, acknowledging a responsibility to reduce the United States’ environmental impact and to enable Americans to adapt to climate change and natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy. However, it fails to mention our responsibility to alleviate the effects of our impact, in particular through global adaptation efforts. Addressing climate change is not merely mitigation, but adaption, and as a global leader, our responsibility expands beyond American citizens. In acknowledging our impact, we must leave no one behind, and support those for whom the threats of climate change are an immediate reality.

While Obama’s plan is intended to be a considerable step in enhancing United States leadership in international efforts to address climate change, it is only the beginning. We must ensure that these words translate into action, which will require political will, in particular from Congress, the engagement of the private sector, and diplomatic efforts to encourage and support other nations in mitigating and adapting to climate change.  Obama’s speech arrives as governments, civil society, and academia globally have already begun engaging in a complex political process to design the United Nations’ Post-2015 development agenda, providing the United States a timely opportunity to demonstrate leadership in international efforts to address climate change.

As Obama  strives to position the United States as a leader in these international efforts, he must expand his plan of to include the economic and social components of sustainability, and to position human development within the context of sustainable development.  Climate change presents a major impediment to eradicating poverty and hunger, increasing access to healthcare and education, and promoting peace, security, and stability.  Additionally, Obama’s vision fails to address population dynamics. We must invest in people, not merely energy, technology, and infrastructure. We must invest in women and girls’ education, economic opportunities, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and we must ensure that youth and adolescents have access to secondary education, training and vocational skills, and decent employment, to empower individuals, households, communities, and governments to develop sustainably and to adapt to the existing impacts of climate change.

While Obama’s Climate Action Plan is a momentous step for domestic and global efforts to address climate change, it is just that, a step. There is a need for not only sound implementation of the plan, but for a rapid escalation of efforts to address climate change. While it is crucial for the United States to curb its unsustainable practices, and mitigate its impact on the environment, we must also look beyond energy and consumption, and ensure that current and future generations will have the resources and capability to develop sustainably, and respond to climate change.

One Response to “Why We Need a Global Approach to Combat Climate Change”

  1. Steven Earl Salmony

    The Economic Expansion and Population Growth Ponzi Schemes:

    The human predicament may well be one for which humankind collectively bears responsibility, but each one of us has to engage in an intellectually honest and morally courageous way in the global conversation offered here. The work at hand for “the collective” has got to be done by individuals speaking out, but also by people working within organizations and institutions so that instrumentalities of governance adopt sustainable practices. Because there is so much to be done, we have no time to waste. Ideas are good but actions are what matter now. We need action not only at the individual level, but also at the local, state, national and international level. This necessary work is impeded because many too many responsible people have chosen willful blindness and elective mutism regarding “the human predicament” confronting all of us rather than electing to speak out about what could somehow be true, according to the lights and scientific knowledge they possess. What is happening, and more importantly “Why it is happening?” now here, is not being sensibly acknowledged and reasonably addressed by virtually all organizations, including the predominant environmental organizations. The limits of the natural world and the necessity for human behavioral changes toward sustainable lifestyles and right-sized corporate enterprises are everywhere passively ignored and actively denied. Business-as-usual activities that are marked by seemingly endless economic and population growth…at all levels… are extolled as virtuous. Consequently, human institutions cannot be changed and the distinctly human-driven global challenges before “the collective of the human species” cannot be overcome.

    Individuals in large numbers must begin to speak out regarding what they see. Most are not doing so. I have become scared of people who cannot see what is obvious as well as frightened of people who do see what is happening and yet consciously and deliberately refuse to speak out about what is occurring on our watch. Many too many smart and well-education people are playing stupid by acting as if they do not know what is happening and why.

Comments are closed.

Most Recent