U.N. to poor people: Sorry, pollution and warming will hit you hardest
It’s that time of year again. You’re enjoying unseasonably warm weather / digging out from under an unexpected snow storm, looking forward to a summer full of invasive mosquitos, and oh, what’s this? Why, it’s another U.N. Human Development Report with terrible news about the planet!
The report celebrates advances in developing countries, improved conditions for the poor, and the “dramatic rebalancing of economic power” worldwide, i.e. the rise of Brazil, China, and India to crush Western white people. But it warns all that could be lost with climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution. As usual, and as noted in past U.N. reports, the poor have the most to lose.
“Environmental threats are among the most grave impediments to lifting human development … The longer action is delayed, the higher the cost will be,” warns the report, which builds on the 2011 edition looking at sustainable development.
“Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress. The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action,” said the UN.
“Far more attention needs to be paid to the impact human beings are having on the environment. Climate change is already exacerbating chronic environmental threats, and ecosystem losses are constraining livelihood opportunities, especially for poor people. A clean and safe environment should be seen as a right, not a privilege.”
The notoriously toothless U.N. often has strong words about climate change. This report will be filed away with all the other U.N. reports, and then when the world is burning the U.N. can say, “We told you so!” Which will be at least a little vindicating. Except for the part where the world is burning.
Susie Cagle writes and draws news for Grist. She also writes and draws tweets for
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