The Philippines, Climate Change and Class

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Robert Reich

“Rescuers in the central Philippines estimate more than 1,200 people dead and thousands more injured after the most powerful typhoon on record ripped through the region. The background story is the perilous interaction of intensifying climate change with widening inequality. We are seeing the consequences within nations as well as among nations (recall Katrina and Sandy in the U.S.). As weather becomes more severe and sea levels rise, the poor who live in less stable housing and in low-lying regions are hit worst, while the wealthier occupy safer and higher ground. As arable land and clean water become scarcer, the poor are subjected to ever-greater risk while the rich buy what they need. As food stocks dwindle, competition becomes even starker.

Climate change can no longer be denied, but because the world’s wealthy assume they can escape from it they don’t feel the necessity of slowing or stopping it. So we hear more and more about “adapting” to it — without acknowledging how much adaptation will cost, and that only a small sliver of humanity will be able to afford the bill.”