Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Recipe for Disaster: Fighting Global Warming's Effects on the World's Poor

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Recipe for Disaster: Fighting Global Warming's Effects on the World's Poor

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

FOR MANY CHRISTIANS--who have cared for "the least of these" by supporting Christian relief and development organizations in their efforts to fight hunger, disease, natural disasters, and poverty--it is disconcerting to discover that these efforts may be insidiously reversed by the climate-changing pollution coming out of our vehicles, factories, and power plants. Most of us have grown up thinking of pollution as a local or perhaps regional problem, not a global one. We haven't seen a connection between emissions coming out of cars in Kansas City and, for example, hunger in Africa.

But climate change is a natural disaster intensifier. It makes floods fiercer, hurricanes harsher, and droughts dryer. The world certainly doesn't need more natural-disaster victims such as the father who, during the 2005 Niger famine, was found with his family hundreds of miles from the nearest feeding station: "I'm wandering like a madman. I'm afraid we'll all starve."

According to recent scientific studies, here are some of the possible consequences of global warming in the forthcoming decades:

* 40 million to 170 million people could be put at increased risk of hunger and malnutrition.

* 1 billion to 2 billion people already in a water-stressed situation could see further reduction in water availability.

* 100 million people could be impacted by coastal flooding, and millions more by inland flooding.

* 200 million could become more vulnerable to malaria.

* Billions of people could be put at increased risk of dengue fever.

* The number of children vulnerable to diarrheal diseases--the number two killer of young children in poor countries--could increase significantly.

* 200 million people may become "climate refugees" by 2050.

* Nearly 3 billion could be at increased risk for violent conflicts. …

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