Many years ago I was visiting Georgia in the Caucusus, a parliamentary exchange also facilitating some research for a book I was researching. I recall being shocked at the poverty there which seemed third world, as it was then described, though now more accurately termed the developing world. For whilst it may have been Stalin’s birthplace when the Soviets departed, it was stripped bare of what little it had.
Something discomfited me though about my thoughts and I couldn’t put my finger on just why. After all I’d seen far worse in North Africa or on television in Asia. Then I realised that what was different was that I’d been shocked because they were European and the housing schemes could have been in Scotland. Had the faces been black or brown I’ve no doubt I might have been more inured to it. I felt ashamed as poverty and hardship are wrong wherever they lie and irrespective of race or creed.
But the recent tragedies of fire and flood brought about by climate change put me in mind of that. For sure in recent years we’ve seen fires rage in Greece, as well as in Australia and California. But in the main, like abject poverty, I’ve always associated it more with the developing world facing enviromental hardship, along with their economic plight.
But no more. The floods in Germany and other parts of Western Europe along with the infernos in west coast North America have it in the heart of the developed world. Some was in the powerhouse of the German, if not European economy, yet parts were swept away and all its wealth couldn’t protect it. Likewise Vancouver tops the table as one of the most desirable cities to live in, yet a few hundred kilometers up the road towns were burnt to the ground and lifes lost.
Climate change’s happening but its impact and damage isn’t restricted to poorer parts or the developing world. It’ll be far worse there for sure, as they don’t have the infrastructure to protect or resource to respond, but we’re not immune. Last week the deluges across Scotland which were severe enough, but what if next time they replicate the torrents that fell on the continent. We’re basking in a mini heatwave which we find warm enough but what if goes hotter still and for longer. Don’t think our latitude will protect us as Lapland has been basking in a heatwave too.
So climate change’s here and is happening. It’s not going only going to be an issue for the developing world but for all humanity. There are soon to be areas not just in the Indian sub-continent but in the southern American States where life can no longer be sustained given heat and humidity. In our own land risks increase.
COP26 has work to do, electric cars just wont be enough. It’ll have to be more profound and it wont be easy. But this isnt a third world issue, it’s a global one.