Moving Towards Negotiations on Climate Change

Floods in Jakarta, Indonesia last week remind us of the growing impact of cliamte change. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana.)

When will climate change become a priority? Probably, when war, rape, and child suffering no longer exist. Unfortunately, however, these horrible tragedies are perpetuated by the effects of climate change. As the earth's climate warms, insecurity in First and Third World countries rises. As a result, now is the time to focus on climate change so that we can prevent future starvation and suffering.

Unfortunately, it is easy for Congress to push the formation of legislation that eases the effects of climate change aside. Climate change feels distant; guns and budget cuts are pressing issues today. Congress won't get re-elected on issues that we aren't yet feeling the full effects of. However, in his second inaugural address on Monday, President Obama stepped up to the plate and renewed the United States' commitment to respond to climate change. 

You also agree that climate change must be a priority in President Obama's second term. A survey conducted by Global Solutions.org members and supporters shows that Americans sill care about the issues surrounding climate change. Members and supporters rated climate change and the environment the highest priority issue for GlobalSolutions.org to focus on in 2013. 

New York Times cited Global Carbon Project, saying that "emissions continue to grow so rapidly that an international goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees, established three years ago, is on the verge of becoming unattainable."  Researchers reported that they expect to see a 2.6 percent jump in global carbon dioxide emissions in 2012. While emissions are decreasing in more developed countries such as the United States, they are increasing in developing countries, where manufacturing and economic growth is booming. 

Climate change, however, does not discriminate. It impacts the smallest and weakest of nations as well as the largest and strongest of nations.

According to scientists, climate change is responsible for catastrophes such as that of Hurricane Sandy in Northeastern United States this past November and the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa. Food shortages perpetuate intra- and inter-state crisis. In search of food and water, families and clans migrate outside their traditional borders. They are forced to adapt to new land characteristics and qualities and to new forms of agriculture.

In the Afar region of Ethiopia nomadic pastoralists' livelihoods are increasingly threatened by erratic rainfall that amplifies the deaths of livestock. They are often forced to relocate to new regions of the country and to adapt to new forms of agriculture that they lack familiarity with.

BBC News recently reported that the Santa River Valley in Peru, whose "hundreds of thousands of inhabitants rely heavily on glacier water for agriculture, domestic consumption, and hydropower," could face major water shortages due to glaciers in the tropical Andres shrinking by 30-50% since the 1970s.

Livelihood insecurity escalates fighting over natural resources. For instance, in San Antonio, Texas, the Brazos River Authority wants to divert water from the Brazos River to booming cities for future usage. Critics worry about the impact that doing so will have on fish and other wildlife, as well as on water quality. Similarly, conflict over rights to the Jhelum River has threatened to produce war between Pakistan and India. Time World says Pakistan fears that "upstream dams allow India to manipulate the flows of water as it sees fit," affecting Pakistan's agriculture-based economy.  

We cannot stand by and wait for the ocean to rise above our homes, for the polar bears to go extinct, and for thousands of lives to be lost to tsunamis. NOW is the time to prioritize legislation that eases the effects of climate change. GlobalSolutions.org is raising its voice to urge the White House and the 113th Session of Congress to consider legislation that protects our climate and the future of people around the globe for centuries to come. Because we know that conversation surrounding climate change cannot occur within the United States alone, we will push the United States to become part of a global conversation requiring international cooperation.

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