Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Framing climate change-Southern Voices on the North-South divide

Last Saturday saw the first in a series of workshops that will be taking place across Manchester organised by Southern Voices.

Entitled Climate Violence,History and resistance the talk by Kool Chultan explored the way that the West frames the debate over climate change.

Former scientist Kool has been working on cultural projects that are related to climate and climate justice for the last couple of years.

Climate change is often framed through the eyes of the Western world often to the detriment of other parts of the world.Only this week Mozambique and South Africa’s Kruger park has been hit by unusual flooding with more rainfall predicted.

Last year the worst floods in fifty years in Thailand leaving over 800 dead 120,000 displaced.
The result of climate change?

It is says Kool,difficult to conclude because of the complexities of the world’s weather patterns.What is clear is that recorded temperatures have been rising since humans industrialised.The amount of Co2 in the atmosphere has increased by 30 % in 200 years and is at its worst levels for 150,000 years.

Most of the C02 we release today will still be in the atmosphere in 75-100 years.

The correlation between its levels and temperature is clear and the Intergovernmental panel on climate change says that on the balance of says that humans have had a great effect on the C02 levels.

But who creates the emissions,historically the big C02 emitters came from the Western world the US,Europe and the former USSR ,today China is the biggest emitter but it has only recent begun and whilst it is creating a lot of Co2,its biggest consumer is from the US.

But away from the science,The IPCC are predicting that at least a fifth of Bangladesh will be under water by 2050 if things continue with millions of people being forced to migrate.

Yet the country has contributed little to the Co2 so is this form of climatic genocide.

Back in 2005,Hurricane Katrina left 2000 people dead but it gave a strong example of how racism and poverty inter played even in the developed world.

The poor were unable to flee and a great number of those deaths could have been avoided.

Kool asked the question as to whether climate science perspectives are Western,do these explore the fundamental causes or focus on exposing the material processes and should we take notice of social political and cultural models.

Capitalism is no longer sustainable and over consumption is one of the main drivers of climate change says Kool. who also reminded us of the words of James Lovelock who claimed that if things continue three quarters of the world population will be dead by the end of the century.

People are now talking about a tipping point.At some point the amount of warming in the world will reach a level when we will be unable to alter the process.The doomsday scenario is that as temperatures warm,the sea will release more carbon which will increase temperatures and the cycle will continue.

The recent climate talks in Durban were disappointing,someone in the audience saying that essentially the countries of the world agreed to continue talking.

One of the models talked of is the equitable model which says that the North reduces a lot whilst the South increases to be more developed.
We also have carbon trading where advance countries  can trade off their emissions in a complex but maybe corrupt and totally ineffective system.

We also says Kool much money being spent on climate change research whilst masking the problems of the inequality that climate change is creating.

In 2009,a group of indigenous people  from across the globe met in Anchorage to look at climate change and with an agenda of trying to protect the indigenous ways of their societies.

As for tackling climate change,there is a great emphasis on us as individuals but any significant change has to be through political demands on a large scale.

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