Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moral Obligation? US? Nah!

Suvrat Kher, over at Reporting on a Revolution, pointed out this NYT blogpost, and this Lancet article. The gut clenchers were these two cartograms. The first was large enough for me to make out, but I couldn't read the second, so I went to the Lancet article, skimmed over it, and captured the full-size images. I'm more than a little scared to read the full article, but I've downloaded it so I can, later, even if I don't have a wi-fi connection. (Click the pics for full size)
The top panel of the above image shows a cartogram in which the size of the country is a function of how much CO2 it has emitted; the bottom shows the estimated increase in mortality due to four climate-sensitive health factors: malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and inland flooding. (Follow-up: I suspect if you factored in some other climate-sensitive phenomena, such as coastal flooding associated with tropical storms, tornadoes and so on- and certainly if you factor in economic costs- the disparity would not be as extreme. Still, that's a stunning image)
This one shows "tipping points," where minor environmental changes could lead to positive feedbacks and runaway conditions with dire consequences. So, for example, the blob to the NE (~left) of Australia and SW of (~up from) North America is labeled "ENSO Triggering." ENSO stands for "El Nino- Southern Oscillation." El Nino an La Nina conditions have profound, and largely negative, consequences throughout the Americas. That little blob implies that these conditions would be more frequent and more severe. And it's just one of numerous blobs on the map.

Of course, what is the health and safety of a few hundred million people, when the profits of the megacorps might suffer? Burn, Baby, Burn!

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