Saving the Earth more important
By OP Rana (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-24 07:55

These are definitely not the best of times to live in, especially if one has a stake in the financial market. The world faces the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The neo-liberals who trumpeted the triumph of the US capitalist model are looking for a place to hide. Leaders across the capitalist world are searching for ways out of the financial mess, which they so lovingly helped create.

These are facts that have been screaming across headlines throughout the world. But what the world media have conveniently chosen to ignore is the real devastation of the world caused by climate change.

The world may overcome the mess the financial managers have created, but if we don't act now, it will never emerge out of the climatic hell that they and their masters have forced upon us.

We don't have much time, fewer than 100 months perhaps according to some scientists, to reverse the trend of global warming. But are the world leaders bothered? Are the world media listening? Will they give global warming even a fraction of the importance they have accorded to the financial crisis?

Governments across the capitalist world have been pouring in hundreds of billions of dollars to (sic) stabilize the financial market. But ask them for even a very minute percentage of that amount to fight climate change and they will wince.

The greed-driven world is hell-bent on killing the goose to get all the golden eggs at one go. Greed knows no logic, follows no ethics and recognizes no folly.

We know that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere today is the highest in the past 650,000 years. We have released more than 1,800 billion tons of CO2 in the past 250 years, thanks to the coal-fired Industrial Revolution, urbanization and deforestation. But has that stopped us from releasing about 1,000 tons of CO2 every second even today? By the way, CO2 is the most prevalent of greenhouse gases, which trap incoming solar radiation and warm the atmosphere. If such gases accumulate beyond a certain level, or "tipping point", they will accelerate global warming beyond control.

But world leaders and global fund managers still insist on saving the financial market. Climate change for them is just a blame game. They would continue pointing out at China's rising emissions. They would still insist that countries like China, India and Brazil change their development methods without even trying to change their own. They refuse to acknowledge that it is wildly unrealistic to think the developing world will change while the developed nations follow an extract-most-profit policy.

It's an irony more money is being invested in oil companies as awareness of climate change grows. These firms publicize their reserves as "proven" or "probable" to make more money. They were laughing their way to the banks till a few months ago when crude prices almost touched the $150-a-barrel mark. But one expected them to learn a lesson by now, when oil has dipped below $70 a barrel.

Many of the big oil companies have gauged public opinion and jumped on to the reduce-global-warming bandwagon to fool the people. None of them has made any serious effort to find or develop an alternative for fossil fuel, though.

Ethanol? Yes, but at the cost of creating a food crisis by diverting grains to produce biofuel, when the best possible solution would have been cutting the use of fossil fuel.

Instead of pushing in billions of dollars to bail out banks, governments across the capitalist world should use the money to reduce global warming. But fighting climate change does not entail profit. So why should a financial institution even try doing that?

Knowing the world leaders and global fund managers, we unfortunately have to assume they will continue to wreck the planet. So instead of depending on them, we should realize that everything we do from now matters. And, possibly more so than at any other time in history.

So let's stop wasting resources of all kinds from today. As Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore has said: If no one responds to your call, march ahead alone.

E-mail: oprana@hotmail.com

(China Daily 10/24/2008 page8)