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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Strategic CSR - Climate change

While not minimizing the importance of global warming and the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting climate change as a result of human activity, the article in the url below at least places these data in some perspective:

According to statistics from the emergency disasters database, deaths caused by flooding, droughts, heat waves and storms—including the effects of global warming—now account for about one-twentieth of one percent of all deaths in the developing world. From 1990-2007, that averaged about 27,000 deaths per year. By contrast, lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation kills almost three million annually. Almost two million people, meanwhile, die each year inhaling smoke from inefficient and dirty fuels such as dried animal dung, crop residues and wood. Another one million die from the effects of outdoor air pollution.

I appreciate that this selective use of statistics undervalues the prospect of global annihilation at some future point (i.e., a higher cost than 27,000 lives), but at a minimum, the author argues there are many important, and perhaps more pressing, issues that also need to be the focus of our attention:

All told, more than 13% of Third World deaths—about six million in total—stem from air and water pollution. This means that for every global warming-related death, at least 210 people die each year from old-fashioned air and water pollution. Even an extremely ambitious climate policy—aiming to cut global carbon-dioxide emissions by 50% below 1990s levels—would entail enormous costs but save very few lives.

The author’s overall point (that there is an element of Western-centric attempts to make ourselves feel more virtuous when we discuss issues related to climate change, or other aspects of CSR) is a good one:

In essence, the global elite is telling coughing Third World people sitting in their dark hovels: "Get a solar panel." That's akin to telling people suffering from water pollution to drink Perrier. Or indeed, to suggest that breadless people should eat cake.

Take care

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The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

Feel-Good Environmentalism at the U.N.
By Bjorn Lomborg
June 21, 2012
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final