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U.S. senators are calling for bipartisan action in Congress on climate
change, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in
Copenhagen in December. On Thursday, a Senate Foreign Relations
subcommittee took up the issue of how the United States and other
developed countries should help poorer countries that are most
vulnerable to the impact of climate change.
Democratic Senator John Kerry
and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham have joined forces to push
Congress to pass a comprehensive climate change bill. In an opinion
piece in the New York Times, they said they refused to accept that the
United States cannot lead the world on the issue. The Senate is
planning several hearings on climate change at the end of this month.
a Senate committee hearing Thursday, experts called on Congress to
substantially increase its funding for the world's poorest countries
that are also the most vulnerable to climate change, including African
countries, Bangladesh and Haiti. The experts said Sudan was an example
of terrible droughts, and Bangladesh was an example of the threat of
floods and rising sea levels, both made worse by climate change.
Reverend Jim Ball is senior director of Climate Campaign for the
Evangelical Environmental Network. He says an overwhelming majority of
evangelical Christians in the United States support strong action.
change is a natural disaster intensifier," he said. "It makes floods
fiercer, hurricanes harsher, droughts drier. The one thing the world
does not need are more victims of natural disasters."
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O'Driscoll is executive director of ActionAid USA, a global
anti-poverty agency. He says there is good news and bad news on climate
"The good news on climate is that the government of the
United States is now fully engaged on the issue," said O'Driscoll. "The
bad news is that the impacts of climate change are already wreaking
havoc on food production, poverty eradication programs and on emergency
response systems in developing countries."
O'Driscoll said those facing the worst consequences of climate change have done little or nothing to contribute to it.
the cruelest irony of the unfolding climate emergency, is that those
most intensely and immediately affected, are least responsible for the
greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming," he said.
said that women, as the poorest members of society, are the most
adversely affected by climate change, and that their voices should be
heard as solutions are sought. He singled out two women farmers, Joyce
Tembenu of Malawi and Asya Begum from Bangladesh, who have been
directly affected by climate change, and who are struggling to feed
their families. He said the Senate's deliberations on climate change
are crucial to millions of people around the world, and that increased
funding for agricultural adaptation programs is urgently needed.
Air Force General Charles Wald, former deputy commander of United
States European Command, said climate change has also become a national
security issue, because it increases competition for scarce resources
and could trigger new waves of refugees.
"What we are
recommending is that we, the United States military, start putting
climate change in our national security planning, that we, the United
States demonstrate leadership in the world," he said. "In my travels
around the world it is very apparent that hardly anything major in the
world is ever going to happen without U.S. leadership, and the world is
begging for that."
Wald says during his active military duty he
did development work in Africa, and a study at the time confirmed that
for every dollar spent on prevention, $10 was saved in
response. He argued that the same principal needs to be applied now to
help the world's poorest countries prepare for climate change.
of the measures panel members discussed were planting mangrove trees or
building seawalls in some places vulnerable to flooding, or creating
floating gardens in other places, and growing drought-resistant crops
in dry areas.