Normative Narratives

Transparency Thursday: Climate Change and Drought

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NASA has a satellite system that can help predict future droughts by measuring the evaporation of water from land surface. The Evaporation Stress Index (ESI) could “help farmers adapt to drought before it evolves”. Texas has been hit in particularly in recent years, leading to “The New Dust Bowl”. More recently, Austin, Texas has not received measurable rainfall since October 26th.

Climate Change has often been linked to drought and food insecurity. Changing weather patterns, more powerful storms, and less predictable weather patterns pose issues for farmers around the world. These issues are amplified in the developing world, where agricultural trade makes a larger proportion of total trade than in the industrialized world. Food shortages, particularly in poor regions of the world, have been linked to famine, starvation, and armed conflict.

Climate Change is a very divisive issue. Poorer countries demand the developed world pays the majority of the costs for past emissions. The developed world wants a more inclusive resolution, as China and India are now among the worlds largest greenhouse gas emitters. This has lead to a virtual stalemate for the last few years UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) negotiations. Unilateral resolutions, while a good first step, will probably lead to producers shifting production to areas with lower environmental standards, hurting those issuing tougher environmental regulations while not helping curb greenhouse gas emissions. California will begin a “cap-and-trade” program beginning next year, which if successfully implemented could help set a precedent in the U.S. and the rest of the world

Climate Change, and financing international initiatives, are never simple issues to resolve. This is especially true in the context of a global recessions like we have today. Action needs to be taken before irreversible damage is done to the planet and the worlds most vulnerable are made to bear the brunt of it. Perhaps in an effort to help support the developing worlds sustainable development, the United States could share it’s ESI technology.

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