Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunita Narain on the fatal climate disconnect

Sunita Narain in the Business Standard (India): The World Economic Forum — the gathering of power glitterati each year in Davos — has assessed the top risks the world faces in 2011. According to this analysis, climate change is the highest-ranking risk the world will face in the coming years, when its likelihood and impact are combined. What’s even more important is the interconnections between climate change and the other top risks: economic disparity (ranked three), extreme weather events (ranked five), extreme energy price volatility (ranked six), geopolitical conflict (ranked seven), flooding and water security (nine and ten).

This is not a past or future scenario. This is the present. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says world food prices this January hit a “historic peak”. The food price index, collated by FAO, averaged 231 points in January, which is the highest since 1990, when it started measuring food prices globally. The reasons for the spike are not just the traditional, ranging from greedy speculators to faulty future markets and rising demand. They are newer: extreme weather events, floods and droughts, heat and frost waves. And they suggest a threat even more difficult to contain.

…Then why do rich men still have their head (and heart) buried in the sand as far as solutions to climate change are concerned? Why is there no progress to reduce emissions? In fact, why in the world is movement backward when it comes to this top-ranking risk?

…The answer to my question is not far to find. The Davos glitterati’s assessment of global risks contains a fatal error. There is no mention, let alone appreciation, of the role of the same powerful economic game, set and system as the cause of the world’s present danger. The men who run the world (it is now accepted that the club has limited membership) do not even begin to join the dots that point towards their complicity in not addressing the problem….

A "capitalism coin" in Russian

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