Neglecting tragedy now |

Neglecting tragedy now

Regarding the editorial “The latest United Nations climate report: Overheated rhetoric” : At the 2009 U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen, a lead African delegate pointed to a TV screen showing thousands of protesters outside and said to me, “Those people are crazy. They are protesting what might happen in 50 years!”

I asked him, “Don’t you think we are causing dangerous climate change?”

He replied, “I don’t know. I am not a scientist. But I do know that my people need help today, not in half a century!”

And that is the tragedy of the U.N. climate process. As a result of the misguided idea that we understand the science well enough to forecast future climate states, and even control those states, U.N. climate meetings focus mostly on mitigation — trying to stop climate change.

As a result, of the $1 billion a day that is spent worldwide on climate finance, only 6 percent of it goes to helping vulnerable people adapt to climate change in the present.

No matter what they believe about the causes of climate change, people from across the political spectrum are starting to see this for what it is — grossly immoral to value the lives of people yet to be born more than the lives of those suffering today.

Tom Harris

Ottawa, Canada

The writer is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition (

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