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NYT: Rich-Poor Divide Still Stalls Climate Accord

Developing nations demanded that the US and other developed countries cut their carbon emissions by more than 70% by 2020, according to the New York Times' Dot Earth blog.

Developed countries have a historical debt – a historical responsibility. The more they pay now they less they pay later -- said Ambassador Anjelica Navarro Llano of Bolivia.

While there are many carbon calculators available, these estimations tend to reflect a one-way relationship between human behaviors on the environment. The circle is not often completed between environmental degradation and the wellbeing of humans...especially those in developing nations. A few years ago the Department for International Development published a good overview of the subject: Achieving sustainability: poverty elimination and the environment (pdf). The publication set out to debunk common misconceptions about the poor and their stake in the environment. One of these misconceptions:

Poor people lack the technical knowledge for resource management. It is often assumed that a lack of technical knowledge is a key constraint to poor people’s management of natural resources. Indeed,when poor people move to areas with new ecological regimes, or when something happens to change the balance under which their old technology developed, a period of adjustment is required. However, poor people are often blamed for things that are not their fault. For example, shifting cultivation has been blamed for destroying the environment, yet in some circumstances it is the most sustainable agricultural practice.Also, evidence is increasingly showing that poor people have an enormous store of what is sometimes termed indigenous technical knowledge, such as the use of medicinal plants,water harvesting structures, fishing sites and so on, but this knowledge is often undervalued or completely ignored...

Will the US live up to developing nations' expectations? The Obama administration may be showing signs of cooling towards global warming.

Tags: Class, Developing, Global warming, Human rights, Policy, Poor, Resources, Rich

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