31 October 2006


The need to address the "environmental consequences of economic activity" is among the world's "highest priorities" said the Vatican envoy, Archbishop Migliore in a recent address to the United Nations.

"It is becoming rapidly ever clearer that if these, the world's life support systems, are spoiled or destroyed irreparably, there will be no viable economy for any of us," he went on to say.

The envoy criticized national policy makers who viewed ecological issues as marginal to economic considerations and repeated the call of Pope John Paul II for an "ecological conversion".

The voice of the Vatican is just one of an increasing number around the world pointing out the urgent need for immediate and significant changes to the way we think, as well as patterns of production and consumption if predicted catastrophic cosequencess are to be avoided.

The recently released Stern Report commissioned by the British Government, is significant in that it emphasized the economic consequences of a failure to act on global warming with the world’s annual economic output reduced by as much as 20%. The report argues that economists have under-estimated the costs that climate change will impose and over-estimated the costs of cutting emissions.

It also emphasises that further delay in implementing major policy changes will lead to irreversible changes. "Such changes would transform the physical geography of the world," the report states, with many millions, of people facing starvation, water shortages or homelessness.

The melting of glaciers would initially cause floods but would then leave a sixth of the world population facing water shortages. Sea rises would threaten cities such as London and New York, and a rise of 2C would put 15-40 per cent of wildlife at risk of extinction.

Falling crop yields could leave hundreds of millions of people, especially in Africa, at risk of starvation and, once temperatures have risen by 4C, "global food production is likely to be seriously affected".

In Australia there are signs that the government is belatedly coming to an acknowledgement that the issue of climate change needs to be seriously addressed.

Those wishing to express their concern about the issue to their governments can find information about actions planned in their area for Nov 4th as part of the International Day of Action on Climate Change at the Global Climate Campaign website.

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