Climate Change: More than an Environmental Problem
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I recently decided to ask a couple of my fellow climate ambassadors why they really cared about the fight against climate change. Most answers were because they care about the environment or because they want to conserve the environment or even because it was the right thing to do.
Even though all those reasons are okay I think now there's an even bigger reason to care - Human Rights. Climate change is now posing a threat to the fulfillment of human rights in many states around the world especially poor or under developed regions especially in Africa. Climate change, a human wrong is slowly violating our human rights.
For some people climate change is more than an environmental problem. Already faced with challenges in meeting basic needs of survival and education, most families have to suffer the harsh effects of climate change such as drought, floods and diseases leaving them without the capacity to cope. Not only is this common in poor countries and regions that contributed the least to climate change but it also affects children the most. Leaving them malnourished, hungry, and some times dead. These effects have had a serious impact on the enjoyment and fulfillment of human rights. Everyone has the right to life, food, shelter, and security. It is now a fact that climate change and human rights are inextricably linked.
Human rights are those basic freedoms that one is entitled to by virtue of the fact that one is a human being. Already floods, heat waves and droughts have claimed the lives of millions of people around the world either directly or indirectly. If people lose their lives due to hunger because a drought rendered them a season of no food isn't that already a threat to the right to food as well as the right to life and it also hinders the fulfillment of the number 1 Millennium Development Goal, which is to reduce extreme poverty and hunger. People's right to shelter is taken away when they lose their houses to rising sea. In some places, due to extreme floods children have no means of getting to school and therefore affects their right to education.
The previous rainy season in Solwezi, Zambia caused a number of people to lose their homes due to heavy down pour and floods leaving families homeless and sending panic among the disaster risk and reduction team. We've seen tsunami's kill thousands in just one day. It would be insane for us to drive ourselves into extinction through our own careless actions.
In conclusion, climate change has become a bigger threat to human rights than anyone would have predicted. Developing countries and impoverished communities must claim protection of their rights. We have to hold our governments accountable and also it is our duty to tell our future leaders that we will only re-elect them if they make commitments to ensure that everyone's rights are met and protected from the damaging effects of climate change.