HAPI Guide Summer 2017 - Page 47

HEALTH 5. Balancing Immediate Energy Needs With  Global Pollution Ramifications In India, about 30 percent of households, more than 300 million people, do not have access to electricity. As noted by Sunita Narain with the Cen- tre for Science and Environment in Delhi, India stands poised to follow in the footsteps of the de- veloped world, because coal is both abundant and inexpensive in India. “If you created the problem in the past, we will cre- ate it in the future,” she says. “We have 700 million households that cook using biomass fuel today. If those households move to coal, you have that much more use of fossil fuels. Then the entire world is fried.” However, she also notes that if using solar is so sim- ple, convenient and inexpensive, why hasn’t the U.S. made the conversion already? The U.S. needs to put its money where its mouth is, and if we’re so concerned about climate change, then we need to take a long, hard look at our own consumption first, before we lay eyes on India. According to Narain, the average American uses the energy equivalent to 1.5 citizens of France, 2.2 citizens of Japan, 10 citizens of China, 34 citizens of India, and 61 citizens of Nigeria, each and every day of the year. “Your consumption is really going to put a hole in the planet,” she says. “The fact of the matter is, we need to put the issue of lifestyle and consumption at the center of climate negotiations.” In short, Narain believes Americans must take re- sponsibility, both for our bloated energy consump- tion and our own addiction to fossil fuels. If we were to invest in and transition to renewable ener- gy, then others, including India, could pressure its leadership to follow. 6. Crisis in Kiribati In Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean, rising seawater has now started to enter homes, farmland and the freshwater ponds used for drinking water. According to Anote Tong, presi- dent of Kiribati, the projections put forth by scien- tists is that the islands will eventually be complete- 47 | HAPI Guide If you created the problem in the past, we will create it in the future,” she says. “We have 700 million households that cook using biomass fuel today. If those households move to coal, you have that much more use of fossil fuels. Then the entire world is fried. ly submerged by rising sea levels. The question is what can be done about it? Short-term, people have been relocated inland, but Tong realizes that a long-term solution must be prepared, for eventually the island will not be able to accommodate all of its inhabitants. Ultimately, migration is inevitable. Kiribati has acquired part of the Fiji Islands, and if people choose to migrate, now or later, they have someplace to go. As noted by one Kiribatian, many of the island nations that contribute the least to global warming are the ones experiencing the worst, and earliest, impact. Industrialization and pollution have also taken a dramatic toll on oceanic ecosystems. In the last three decades alone, HALF of all coral has been lost. And with the death of coral the entire ecosys- tem falls apart, ultimately leading to starvation — as more than 1 billion people worldwide depend on fish for sustenance — and loss of livelihood, which leads to poverty. The ocean soaks up about one-third of the CO2 dumped into the atmosphere. This makes oceans a stabilizing force in climate. The problem is we have been, and certainly still are, creating CO2 at a faster rate than the oceans can process and filter.