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My choice: none of the above

By Bashir Goth - posted Thursday, 3 January 2008


This piece was written in response to a question asking panelists to choose the best of six proposals on how to move forward on climate change. Read more panelist views here.

In the face of the resounding chorus for action against global warming, it may be tantamount to self-immolation to say anything negative against the campaign to fight climate change. One may not even dare to raise one’s voice for fear of becoming a victim of an inquisition by the brigades of climate change cheerleaders.

Despite that, I must risk refusing to follow the herd on the motives and long-term objectives of the global warming campaign. I am not a scientist to disprove the findings of eminent scholars in the field, and indeed that is not my point at all. Instead, my concern is the timing and fervour with which developed nations, particularly European countries, are pushing the agenda of climate change. (Please refer to my previous piece.)

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Drawing lessons from history and the nuances of international politics, one cannot but question the honesty of the whole issue. Questions that need answers include: why has fighting climate change and global warming gained momentum, while conventional players in the energy sector find themselves in fierce competition with powerful competitors from Russia, China and India?

Why was the science community silent when Europe was spewing the greatest amount of carbon over decades?

Why did the conscience of academia, politicians and drum-beating lobby groups suddenly awaken when oil gushed from every, hitherto unsuspected, region in Africa, Central Asia and elsewhere?

How can one allay the fears and suspicions of oil-producing countries that the motive behind the climate change issue and the robust search for alternative energy is really about a tacit strategy to liberate the developed economies from the stranglehold of oil-producing countries?

Isn’t it reasonable for oil producing countries such as those in OPEC, Russia and others, and even emerging commercial powerhouses like China and India, to suspect that all that the giant industrial countries want is to regain their traditional lead in technology and world trade?

Couldn’t these and other questions be what Saudi Arabia had in mind when it announced a multi-million fund to find technological solutions to the climate change problem?

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Given such questions, which hopefully are shared by many developing countries, I assume that the main motive of the global warming campaign is about economics. It is a desperate effort by advanced nations, regardless of the position of the US, to deny the shift of world trade dominance to China, India, Russia and elsewhere. And what better way is there to shackle the muscle of growing economies of these countries and other oil- and gas-producing countries in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America than to shame the most profitable product they own.

This is why I would not entertain any of the proposals submitted to the PostGlobal panel. My argument is this: let us first agree on the fundamentals of the diagnosis before we prescribe a remedy.

But if I am obliged to take one stance on this contestable issue, I might be satisfied with what one newspaper described as the falling of a “Berlin Wall" dividing rich and poor nations on global warming policy ushered in by the Bali deal. It is not fair to ask developing nations to atone for the sin committed over the centuries by industrial nations. So let us together fortify the wall.

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First published in the Washington Post in December 2007.



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About the Author

Bashir Goth is a Somali poet, journalist, professional translator, freelance writer and the first Somali blogger. Bashir is the author of numerous cultural, religious and political articles and advocate of community-development projects, particularly in the fields of education and culture. He is also a social activist and staunch supporter of women’s rights. He is currently working as an editor in a reputable corporation in the UAE. You can find his blog here.

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