Global Warming. Will technology save us? I know many of us hold onto a hope that some great invention will solve all of our climate woes. As you will see in our third link, addressing global warming will take more than just technology. But first, when I think of Global Warming, I don’t typically think of polar bears, bees, or sea coral–not that the threats they face are not real or urgent. I instead think of the people affected by climate change. I can’t help but think of myself and my husband and our friends and family in North America, Europe, and Southern Africa, and things we value that are at risk of being lost forever along with the feelings of fear over the uncertainty of it all.
I also think of other people–farmers, women in Subsaharan Africa, and poor and working class people in cities around the world who have always had to deal with more pollution in their communities than their richer neighbors. Before we look at technology first let’s consider links to two stories that look at people disproportionately affected by climate change–poor communities in California cities and women in Jamaica.
For the past 18 months the state of California has implemented a carbon cap-and-trade program collecting millions of dollars from companies who pollute. According to the original law, 25% of the revenue is suppose to go towards poorer communities adversely affected by pollution. Because of a budget shortfall last year, Governor Jerry Brown diverted that money (500 million dollars,) but at last these funds are going in the right place.
Under the new budget, about $230 million, or 26 percent, of the $872 million cap-and-trade money will go toward environmental justice efforts. That includes $75 million to weatherize low-income homes and $25 million for transit and intercity rail networks in poor communities. A program called Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities run by the state’s Strategic Growth Council will get $130 million to plan and build new housing and add amenities like public transit to existing neighborhoods.
Calif. Earmarks a Quarter of its Cap-and-Trade Riches for Environmental Justice by Amy Nordrum, Inside Climate News
Throughout the developing world, women and girls are expected to face a harder time of it because of global warming. A recent series of papers out of Jamaica looks at some of the impacts of natural disasters and drought based on gender.
Apart from hurricanes, water shortages and droughts are also consequences of climate change which impact the poor and vulnerable within the society. Women and children in rural areas often find themselves having to go in search of water for domestic use.
“Women in general make up a large number of the vulnerable in communities that are highly dependent on local natural resources to survive,” said Tesi Scott.
Women said more vulnerable to climate change, Jamaica Observer
If you want to learn more about climate change and women, read the UN’s Women Watch page, Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change.
I find that my mind repels the idea that Global Warming is as serious as scientists say it is. Who can grasp the magnitude of the crisis without denying it in part or negotiating its impacts away? “Well, I recycle,” we say trying comfort ourselves believing that if we each did our part, we will ultimately lick this current crisis. When we realize that our individual efforts do not even begin to come close enough to addressing the problem, we look to science and innovation for a cure, “Surely technology will save us.”
No doubt technology will play a large part in helping us to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We will need to develop all sorts of new technologies to capture carbon and create new energy sources that do not pollute. We are not there yet, and we need to dispossess ourselves of the notion that we can simply rely on technology to pull us out of the climate mess. Doug Struck of the Boston Globes recently wrote about a talk given by a Swiss scientist visiting the US.
“Technology will bring us a long way. But we will need also a change in our lifestyle,” he said. “It’s a grim message, but a true message. Science and technology is useful, but if you want to save the earth, you need also to work on the other side, on reducing our energy use.”
No magic bullet for climate change, Swiss scientist says by Doug Struck, Boston Globe
If you want to get involved with a group of people working hard to change the way we use energy through a market-driven approach that will curb consumption and encourage alternatives to greenhouse gases, check out the Citizens Climate Lobby.