Common Sense: Invest Today to Save Tomorrow

Responding to: Responding to Climate Change: Intergenerational Justice and the Universal Common Good

By: Carlos Osorio Torres

March 23, 2015

The Phailin cyclone hit India in 2013 and tragically killed 40 people; however, another storm of the same size hit India in 1999, killing about 10,000 people. The difference was that India invested in systems against natural disasters. It is estimated that every dollar invested in these early warning systems can provide $36 in economic benefits.


The World Bank is committed to climate change because it is strongly related to extreme poverty. Today more than ever, we are witnessing the results of global warming. 2014 was the warmest year on record, with extreme temperatures approaching the physiological limits that humans and animals can resist.

We have to find ways for economic growth to have a greater impact on poverty reduction by attacking inequality in a more direct way. As Dr. Jim Yong Kim explained in his lecture, extreme weather conditions tend to have the greatest impact on poor countries because they are not prepared for such disasters. It is also important to note that developed countries also negatively impact poor countries. Developed countries have the largest carbon emissions, due to their consumption of fossil fuels and high number of cities, which directly or indirectly affect poor countries through climate change. Pope Francis calls governments to act on climate change because it "affects all humanity, especially the poor and future generations" so it is "a serious ethical and moral responsibility." 

Therefore, we must separate economic growth from carbon emissions. How is this done?

The World Bank proposes five initiatives: 1) Establish a price for carbon. 2) Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, which are estimated at $500 billion a year. 3) Improve energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. 4) Create cleaner, more efficient, and sustainable cities. 5) Develop climate smart agriculture. The Pope, as a representative of Catholic social thought, says "the time to find global solutions is running out. We can only find suitable solutions if we act together and with concordant solutions. There is therefore a clear, definite and urgent ethical imperative to act."

In conclusion, we have time to reverse or keep carbon emissions at their current levels. Governments need to create awareness that the current production methods are destroying the planet, and that investing in proper alert systems and refugee centers can translate into lower costs in the future. It is also necessary to create neutral carbon growth policies and to favor the World Bank’s five initiatives in order to combat climate change in an economically efficient manner. And to quote the representative of the Catholic Church, we need "a culture of solidarity, encounter and dialogue; able to show the responsibility to protect the planet and the human family."

Discover similar content through these related topics and regions.

comments powered by Disqus
Common Sense: Invest Today to Save Tomorrow