Category: Climate Change

Let’s Knock Down the Three Pillars of Sustainable Development

Let’s knock down the three pillars of sustainable development!  This wholly misleading picture, promoted at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, is still around.  The 2012 Rio conference is an opportunity to replace it with a very different picture.  The “three pillars” obscure the real relationship between the economic, the social, and the environmental.  They are not equals.  “The environment” is the physical reality all life depends on.  “The social” is about one of the species within the environment, our own, organising itself.  “The economic” is in turn one sub-set of the social.  Each is nested within the next: economic within social within environmental.

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Solving Climate Change Will Help Temper Rising Health Care Costs

by Lauren Simenauer

Delegates from 194 parties are meeting in Durban, South Africa, for the annual U.N. Conference of Parties, or COP, climate change conference. Among topics being addressed is the reduction of carbon emissions worldwide, clean energy funding in lower-income nations, and the future of the Kyoto Protocol. One lesser-discussed issue that diplomats will address is the growing body of science about the impacts of climate change on global health.

The National Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, identified six natural disaster events thought to be exacerbated by climate change. Those events include ozone air pollution, heat waves, the spread of infectious disease, river flooding, hurricanes, and wildfires. Tragically, extreme weather ravaged Durban itself just days before international delegates arrived. Torrential rains caused severe flooding that destroyed 700 homes and resulted in the deaths of 10 people. But beyond the immediate effects, all these disasters have wide-reaching consequences for national health, and a study published in Health Affairs magazine estimated that health costs incurred from the tragedies exceeded $14 billion from 2000 to 2009.

In the national debate on health care, it is imperative that the international community and our lawmakers at home not ignore the value of preventing the damage that climate change will cause to both the environment and human health.

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Going Green without the Moralism

by Heleen de Coninck

There is no question about it: social democrats need to embrace environmental sustainability. Protecting our natural surroundings, keeping our air clean, providing a healthy environment and access to nature for everyone should be at the core of social democratic policies, just like providing economic and social sustainability should be.

However, we have to admit that in the triangle environmental, social and economic sustainability, sometimes simplistically referred to as planet, people and profit, the balance is tilted. While we see that at the moment either type of sustainability is sacrificed to short-term gains, environmental sustainability often loses out even in more prosperous times. Why is that?

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The Developing World, Leading on Climate Change?

by Vivek Dehejia

In what may turn out to be one of the abiding ironies of global geopolitics, leadership on climate change seems to have suddenly passed from the developed to the developing world, as has public anxiety about the damaging effects of a changing climate.

As recently as the Copenhagen summit in late 2009, the West blamed large developing countries such as China and India for scuppering the chances of a “grand agreement” to curb the emission of greenhouse gases. Poor developing countries argued they needed the right to pollute in order to catch up to the West in terms of economic development, while the rich nations clucked that the world could ill afford more carbon emissions.

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More Wrecking From Abbott

by Mark Dreyfus 

Of all the objectionable lies that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has told, the latest load of nonsense about repealing the Clean Energy Future is the most damaging to Australia.

Business enterprise flourishes in an environment of certainty and predictability.The Gillard government has worked hard to provide business with the certainty to invest and innovate in a carbon constrained global economy.

The Clean Energy Future Package supports long-term investment because it uses the power of the market to achieve emissions cuts along a predictable trajectory. A trajectory that extends out to 2050, a necessary timeframe for business to invest in assets that may have a lifetime of 30 years or more.

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Progressing the Social Democratic Agenda