As global climate change increasingly wreaks havoc amongst the world’s poorest countries, international leaders have been debating who should contribute to relief and prevention measures.
Industrialized nations have contributed the most to worldwide pollution, and impoverished, developing countries are the ones paying the price. The New York Times reported that Todd D. Stern, the US State Department’s representative for climate issues, said the United States and other developed countries would not contribute any significant amount of resources to climate change mitigation for other countries. At the same time, John Kioli, chairman of the Kenya Climate Change Working Group, stressed the devastation brought on by climate change, and said that developed countries have a ‘moral obligation’ to pay reparations.
It appears that world leaders are at an impasse. Sterns commented that the United States couldn’t be expected to contribute to proposed global insurance plans or preventative funds because of the demands of an aging population and infrastructure, among other things. With that decidedly individualistic attitude, hope for developing countries seems minimal, at least on a political level.
Instead of waiting endlessly for legislation or policy to spearhead change, we can be part of reducing climate change and contributing to global equality simply by making conscientious lifestyle decisions. By recycling, composting, driving less, using less packaging and fewer plastic bags, we have a hand in changing people’s lives, people who are overlooked, marginalized and have few resources of their own to fall back on. If that’s not enough of a reason to at least be aware of how consumptive and wasteful we are, we are also crippling ourselves and future generations with our greed.
Leaders have been focusing on changing law and policy, but has anyone gone to their constituents and asked them to use less? Now is the time, and we can choose to make the change based on our shared humanity and compassion for one another. We don’t need legislation to implement that.