Why I'm Walking to Work Tomorrow

I live three blocks from work. The good news is that I (probably) won’t be convicted of road-rage homicide. The bad news is that I drive to work. Admittedly, I live in a rough inner-city neighborhood where safety is a factor. However, if the world were equitable and just, the eco-cops would stick me with a ticket.

According to the new study "Who Owes Who?" by the UK-based development charity Christian Aid, industrialized countries should be charged with a "reckless use of fossil fuels" that has helped create catastrophic climate changes primarily and most severely affecting the world’s poor.

El Nino, Hurricane Mitch, drought in the Sudan, and floods in Bangladesh can no longer be considered strictly "acts of God"—mysterious forces imposed upon us without rhyme or reason. There is nothing mysterious about the 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide my Toyota produces from burning a gallon of gasoline. Or the fact that uncontrolled carbon dioxide emissions will double the amount of gas in the atmosphere by the end of the 21st century, raising the global temperature with it. Or that changing world temperatures brings weather-related disasters. A 10-year-old with a terrarium could figure this out.

Thirty years ago the worst carbon polluters were in the Eastern bloc and China. According to a report from the environmental think-tank Worldwatch, by 1997 only in the United States and India were carbon emissions still increasing. The economic collapse in Eastern and Central Europe—specifically the dismantling of the coal industry—brought the first slowdown in global carbon emissions. In its place, European nations have adopted improved energy efficiency standards and removed energy subsidies. China is the world’s second largest emitter. Even though China’s economy is growing, its carbon emissions are declining; again, partly due to cutting coal subsidies.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2000
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