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Climate Change Costing Lives and Crushing Human Rights?

If you don't get all your news from David Letterman (who lit into the subject last night), a new report by Oxfam International says not recycling or curbing your carbon footprint is effectively violating the human rights of people living in the poorest nations. The report's author says, "Climate change was first seen as a scientific problem, then an economic one. Now it is becoming a matter of international justice."

She continues, "Litigation is seldom the best way to solve a dispute. That is why we need a strong UN deal in 2009 to cut emissions and support adaption. However, vulnerable countries do need options to protect themselves. Rich country polluters have been fully aware of their culpability for many years." Oxfam is advocating a two-pronged approach including mitigation and adaptation to help quell the mounting crisis — like these Haitians fleeing the aftermath of Hurricane Ike yesterday.

Not convinced there is a pending crisis? To see what's looming,


A panel of hundreds of environmental experts found a whole batch of grave trouble about to befall the poorest residents of the planet, including:

  • 75-250 million people across Africa facing water shortages by 2020.
  • Agriculture (read: food) grown using rainfall cut by 50 percent in some African countries by 2020.

Forgive my mounting an ecological soapbox, but if one's actions deny another human food and water, then yeah. I'm going to go with "it's a human rights problem."

Though plenty don't agree. This review of Thomas Friedman's new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded puts to task the alarm over global warming, saying:

Why does the cocktail-party circuit embrace claims about a pending climate doomsday? Partly owing to our nation's shaky grasp of science—many Americans lack basic understanding of chemicals, biology, and natural systems. Another reason is the belief that only exaggerated cries of crisis engage the public's attention; but this makes greenhouse concern seem like just another wolf cry.

Adding, "Friedman can't bring himself to admit he is lord of a manor and racing through more resources in his daily life than 10,000 rural Africans."

Is it hot enough in the kitchen for global warming warnings? Or is it just the crying boy and his wolf on the other line?


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