Climate change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?

I’m familiar with the concept of ‘climate justice,’ & actually got myself arrested last year because of my own concerns & passion about climate change & climate justice – but I think a lot of people still don’t really “get” it.

Last weekend I attended a conference on climate change in Toronto, where I heard (among many others) 2 excellent speakers who really understand – deep in their hearts & their guts – about climate change & climate justice.(1)

First, I heard Afsan Chowdury, a journalist who produced & directed the short film Climate Change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?

His talk was very…disturbing.

He pointed out that, in the west, climate change is a lifestyle issue, while in the east, it’s a life & death issue.

Chowdury is from Bangladesh, a country with 140 million people & the place on Planet Earth where climate change is (& has been) causing massive disruption for some years already now. Flooding, salination of rivers – & massive dislocation of the people who live there.

I later bought a copy of his film & watched it, & am very glad I did. It’s not an uplifting story, exactly – but it is about an issue we all need to understand.

The crux of the climate change/climate justice issue is that it is the habits of those of us in the well-off parts of the world (Canada & the U.S. among these, of course) that are causing disastrous impacts in the not-so-well-off countries. (Bill McKibben’s book Eaarth – Making a Life on a Tough New Planet is a must-read, folks!! He explains causes, current conditions, & why we must all learn to adapt to a new world.)

We can ignore this – our role in the fate of millions of our fellow human beings around the world – & go merrily about our lives, never questioning or changing our attitudes & behaviour – &, clearly, many of us do!

I don’t find this works for me. It seems I have an overly-developed conscience(2) – & it won’t allow me to live with it unless I pay attention to these serious, stubborn & sometimes nasty issues.

As it happens, my son-in-law is from Bangladesh. He’s lived in Canada for almost 20 years now, & he’s become very “Canadian” (whatever that means!?)

I’ve been active on environmental issues for 21 years, & particularly passionate about climate change for longer than my son-in-law has been in my life.

But it never hurts to make things “personal,” does it?

Why not watch Climate Change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?” & then decide for yourself whether you want to live with your conscience, pretending that the way you live doesn’t affect others, & that climate justice is a concept that has no meaning in your life.

(Personally, though, I’m at the point of thinking it’s time we started calling a spade a spade. Maybe we need to say a little more often “Hey! That’s immoral!!”)


p.s. You might like to take a look at the site “Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice.

p.p.s. & please consider reading the post: ‘Speaking of Speaking up (& not..)

(1) The other one is Bill McKibben – more on him & his latest book elsewhere

(2) As I’ve said elsewhere, conscience is about making the distinction between what’s right & what’s wrong. It isn’t about saying “Oh well, everyone else is doing it, so I guess I will too.” Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, cheap or fun – but it is right – & that brings considerable comfort!