This map, published in today's Guardian, is an eye opener. It charts how much of the world faces food insecurity. That, by the way, is all of the world except those countries coloured green.
Get the picture? North America (excluding Mexico), Western Europe (excluding Spain), Iceland, Japan, Australia and New Zealand - that's the lot. This is the Maplecroft Food Security Risk Index, 2011. This is a world of 7-billion people, racing toward 9-billion even as the ravages of climate change close in on it.
Look at the hardest hit countries - Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo, Somalia, Sudan, North Korea, Yemen, India, Pakistan, Burma. These are countries either in conflict or hovering on the brink of conflict.
But wait, there's more. Who are the biggest carbon emitters? China and the United States, of course. And where is public concern over global warming falling markedly? You guessed it, China and the United States. Less than half of Americans say they're concerned about global warming which is no small comfort to the Big Carbon lobby and their bought and paid for minions, the US Congress. And, in China, which itself faces food insecurity, concern has dropped from 77% in 2009 to 64% today.
With the United States utterly hostile to any effective global emissions control agreement and China nearing indifference, we're simply screwed. That means us too, all the greenies in that map above. We'll probably be the last and least impacted, barring all out war (which is a very real possibility), but we'll still be hit eventually.
What else can we expect from political leaders who, in Jared Diamond's words, "consider leaving environmental problems unsolved a money-saving device."
In his fascinating book, Collapse, Diamond wrote "...some people may reason correctly that they can advance their own interests by behavior harmful to other people. Scientists terms such behavior "rational" precisely because it employs correct reasoning, even though it may be morally reprehensible. The perpetrators know they will often get away with their bad behavior, especially if there is no law against it or if the law isn't effectively enforced. They feel safe because the perpetrators are typically concentrated (few in number) and highly motivated by the prospect of reaping big, certain, and immediate profits, while the losses are spread over large numbers of individuals."
That passage pretty much explains the Athabasca Tar Sands in a nutshell. Our supposed leaders treat ignoring the environmental problems as a money-saving device.