This essay was sent to me just about the time “climategate” broke. I regret the delay in publishing it but it is still relevant to the upcoming Copenhagen conference. – Anthony
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, get your priorities straight, and quit wasting the world’s resources on third tier problems
Guest post by Indur M. Goklany
“Climate change has been my top priority since I took office,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an open letter to the participants of the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change.
He doesn’t seem to have read the new United Nations World Health Organization report on Global Health Risks. This document allows us to rank climate change among 24 global health risk factors. According to this report, hunger, poverty and a host of diseases easily outrank global warming (AKA climate change) as a global priority. The following two figures rank these health risks based on two different criteria. Depending on which criterion one uses, global warming is either second last or dead last!
Figure 1: Ranking global public health priorities based on disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost prematurely in 2004. DALYs discount years that would have been spent in a disabled condition based on the severity of disability. Note: underweight = hunger. Many of the risk factors — hunger, unsafe water, vitamin A, iron and zinc deficiencies, indoor smoke — are diseases of poverty.
Figure 2: Ranking global public health priorities based on mortality. Note: underweight = hunger. Many of the risk factors — hunger, unsafe water, vitamin A, iron and zinc deficiencies, indoor smoke — are diseases of poverty.
“ Underweight”, which for practical purposes is synonymous to “hunger”, is ranked first based on the global burden of disease (first chart), and ninth based on global mortality (second chart).
Unfortunately, the United Nations family of agencies, aid agencies, and global “Humanitarian” agencies also subscribe to the notion that climate change should be given priority above other unsolved problems. Not surprisingly, therefore, at the World Food Summit earlier this month, about 60 heads of state and dozens of ministers rejected the U.N.’s call to commit $44 billion annually for agricultural development for developing nations.
According to the Associated Press, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s Assistant Director-General Alexander Mueller said that governments kept away from firm commitments to reduce hunger, “due to the economic crisis and because they expect they will need to channel money to the developing world at next month’s summit on climate change in Copenhagen.”
So there you have it: funds for one of the least significant problems over funds for much higher priority problems.
You reap what you sow.
And Mr Ban Ki-moon should be gratified that the world community takes heed.