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Posted June 21, 2007

Climate Change Strikes the Poor

“Poor people in our country and in poor countries often lack the resources and capacity to adapt and avoid the negative consequences of climate change. … Ironically, the poor and vulnerable generally contribute much less to the problem, but are more likely to pay the price of neglect and delay, and bear disproportionate burdens of action or unwise actions.” (John Carr, U.S. bishops’ conference secretary for social development and world peace)

Climate change ought to be looked at “from the bottom up – for how it touches the poor and vulnerable,” Carr says. And Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage, Alaska, says, “We’re discovering that the concerns for, and threats to, the poor … are not well represented” in conferences around the world on climate change.

Indigenous groups in Alaska are forced to relocate as climate change causes the permafrost under their homes to melt and sea ice gives way to flooded streets and coastal storms, the archbishop says.

Carr and the archbishop spoke to a daylong Anchorage conference this June on climate change that the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops sponsored. Carr also delivered testimony on climate change to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works June 7.

“With due respect for former Vice President Gore, the real ‘inconvenient truth’ is that those who contributed least to climate change will be affected the most,” Carr told the Senate committee.