A chara, – I refer to the recent letter (July 18th) on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in East Africa. Concern Worldwide and Trócaire emphasise that “the time to act is now, before it is too late”. Humanitarian crises of this scale – fuelled by drought, conflict, and disease – will become more prevalent under climate change.
The countdown has already begun. Pakistan’s 5000 glaciers are retreating faster than in any other part of the world according to the Pakistan Economic Survey of 2014-15, and hence depleted freshwater resources. In 2010, the country was hit by unprecedented ‘super floods’ – described as a slow-moving Tsunami by then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon – that affected more than 20 million people from the north to the south of the country. In June 2015, there was a killer heat wave in Karachi in which over 2000 people died.
As far back as 1977, Exxon scientist James Black stated that “the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels”. In the decades since then, the fight to prevent catastrophic climate change has been led by students, farmers, teachers, parents, scientists, military generals, and more. Now, the lawyers are catching up.
Given how President Donald Trump has taken aim at the Environmental Protection Agency with regulatory rollbacks and deep proposed budget cuts, it may come as no surprise that the Office of Environmental Justice is on the chopping block.
This tiny corner of the EPA was established 24 years ago to advocate for minorities and the poor, populations most likely to face the consequences of pollution and least able to advocate for themselves.