Monday, August 02, 2010

It's Not a Scheme to Transfer Wealth

It's dispiriting to discover how many people believe the global warming initiative to be a scheme to transfer wealth from the developed world to the Third World.   They're referring, of course, to the plan for the industrialized nations to create a fund to help the poorest and weakest countries cope with the climate change we have visited on them.

Whether it's South Asia, Africa or the South Pacific, the poorest nations are already wracked by floods, drought and related precipitation problems and sea level rise.  Only the abjectly ignorant cannot understand our overwhelming role in their plight.  We received great wealth from our carbon emitting activities, they didn't.  As ill luck has it, however, they're the "first and worst" affected by the climate change we created.   It's our good fortune in the northern nations to be the "last and least" affected by global warming.

On what possible basis can it be argued that we don't have a responsibility to those nations we've harmed?   If you run over a pedestrian, are you not responsible for the injury and loss you cause?  Is payment of damages a "scheme to transfer wealth?"  Of course not.

Today's Sydney Morning Herald captures this misconception in an article headlined, "Pacific talks focus on $110b climate windfall."  Windfall is such a loaded word.  It suggests something unwarranted, undeserved.  It rejects any notion of genuine entitlement.  It's particularly offensive coming from such a coal-fueled nation as Australia.

Enough.   The poorest and most vulnerable countries will need every penny of that money, and far more, if they hope to adapt to global warming.   One thing the world doesn't need is unnecessary climate refugees migrating en masse elsewhere.   Helping them cope is actually very beneficial to the rest of us, especially the richest countries.

This is not scheme, it's not a plot, there's nothing remotely underhanded to it.   And it sure as hell isn't a windfall for the little countries hardest hit.

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