It’s an interesting fact that global climate change will end up impacting the world’s poorest people the most – and they are least responsible for causing it.

It’s the developed world that has burnt the vast majority of the climate-changing CO2 into the atmosphere.  It’s the developed world that’s pumped other global warming gases into the atmosphere (though significant amounts of methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas, is coming out of defrosting bogs that were once permafrost – but that permafrost is thawing because of the global warming caused by the developed nations).

Already, expanding ocean waters (due to both thermal expansion and melting ice) have pushed upstream into Bangladesh, where some of the poorest poor in the world live.  They’ve done nothing to cause this problem, but they are the ones most affected by it.

Addressing global climate change is important because our civilization was built on the current climates around the world.  As those climates change, our ability to produce enough food and shelter will decrease.  As those climates change, our access to clean drinking water will change radically.  Addressing global climate change is a justice issue.  It is a peace issue.  It is a creation care issue.

Jim Wallis has noted that good climate change legislation in the United States will not only address climate change and promote a green economy, it will change our foreign policy by making us less dependent on foreign oil.  I think this is a good thing, for many of the wars we fight are about access to natural resources, including quite prominently oil.

But Wallis is right when he says that’s not the most important thing:

[H]ere is the heart of the moral issue for many of us.  Simply put, those around the world who have contributed least to global warming and climate change will be the most and first to be impacted by the consequences of it all.  Sadly, it’s an old story.  We, the affluent, create the problem, and the poor pay the price for our sins.  It is wrong, and it is a sin — ours.

Bravo, Jim, for using the “s” word, “sin.”  This is an all-too-common sin of the developed world, of my nation.  And being one of the world’s affluent (even if I’m not affluent by Fremont, CA, standards), I’m guilty of this sin.  May God and the developing world forgive me as I work to reduce my personal impact on the world.