Global Warming's Impact on World Poverty Worries Churches and UN

In some 40 poor, developing countries, with a combined population of 2 billion, including 450 million undernourished people, production losses due to climate change may drastically increase the number of undernourished people, severely hindering progress in combating poverty and food insecurity.

Published: 31-May-2005

N class=f9black3>Climate changes may greatly influence the world's poverty, hunger and disease, the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) said in its latest report.

During the 31st meeting of the Committee on World Food Security, the FAO presented the report stating that the impact of climate changes on the northern industrial hemisphere may be positive, since it may increase their crop production potential.

However, "In some 40 poor, developing countries, with a combined population of 2 billion, including 450 million undernourished people, production losses due to climate change may drastically increase the number of undernourished people, severely hindering progress in combating poverty and food insecurity," states the report.

The impact of climate change on the world's poverty and hunger may be drastic, since the production of cereal in India and China for example may decrease by 15-18%.

In Africa, where the 1.1 billion hectares have a growing period 120 days, climate change will result in expansion of this area by 5-8%.

Climate change will not influence only food security, but the development may see a more rapid spread of animal disease and plant-pests. In addition , it may result in intensified trans-boundary animal diseases spreading, giving the avian flu as the most recent example.

The issue of climate change is also a concern of many initiatives ran by Christian groups and associations.

On 16th February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol came into effect as international law. The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty on global warming. Countries which ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases.

The Protocol was agreed by 114 countries, but with 2 remarkable exceptions - United States and Australia.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has been working on climate change since 1990. In its report prepared for the WCC Assembly in 2006, one of the challenges presented by the WCC Working Group on Climate Change (established in 1992) is to prevent the Kyoto protocol from collapsing.

"We emphasise that implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is crucial for future steps towards a just and sustainable global climate policy regime. The major challenges before us are to advocate for industrialised countries to meet their targets within the committed timeframe and to reengage those most responsible for emissions into the global treaty process, in order to make it possible for developing countries to adopt appropriate reduction commitments in the next round of negotiations."

In the WCC climate programme, it is stated that "Life itself being a gift from God, the atmosphere as precondition to the coming into existence and the continuation of life, can be seen as a heavenly gift of loving grace to all life, shared in common by the whole creation. Thanks to this, a subtle balance and interdependence was created between various living organisms and a specific composition of the atmosphere."

Also, during the recent WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Athens, Rev. Dr. Pepine Iosua of the Kiribati Protestant Church in the Pacific Islands delivered the sermon that gives deeper theological understanding of environmental issue in context of Christian faith.

"The created world was entrusted to human beings to care for with love and enjoy its benefits, but also as a sign of the relationship with the Creator. As a caretaker, humans are liable and answerable to God the Creator and his affinity to creation. Humanity is not to exploit God’s blessing selfishly, but widely, globally, in a sustainable and responsible manner. This world is our global home, it is our life, we exist as an interdependent whole. Humanity therefore is to work hard towards reconciliation and healing of our damaged world for the full glorification of God by his own creations, as he expected from the very beginning"

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