The effects of climate change are grossly unfair. As India’s prime minister Narendra Modi stated Nov. 30, “Climate change is not of our making. But we in India face its consequences today. We see it in the risks to our farmers, the changes in weather patterns, and the intensity of natural disasters.”
In our Valley, climate change will have a disproportional effect on the poor and vulnerable. More frequent heat waves may overwhelm their swamp coolers and air conditioners and spike their electricity bills. Farm workers and other outdoor workers will face higher risks of dehydration and heat stroke as summer temperatures rise to record levels.
Higher temperatures cause production of more ozone, so persons with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart conditions – and especially children –will suffer more often. More frequent wildfires will foul our air with fine particles. Those higher health care costs will be borne by all of us – rich and poor.
We need a healthy climate that doesn’t threaten the health of the least deserving. I sincerely hope the ongoing Paris climate talks make real progress toward addressing this issue.
It’s not only the fair thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do.