Climate change and the developing world – some good news?

Not all connections between third world poverty and climate change are negative.

We’ve all read our share of reports on the devastating impact that climate change will have on the developing world. These include drought and famine in some areas, flooding and displacement in others, and the spread of some really nasty diseases such as dengue fever.

But concern over growing greenhouse gas emissions, and the ‘what if’ scenario of greater affluence in struggling populations is motivating many in government, NGOs, and the private sector to tackle both climate change and development more holistically. Can the fight against climate change be a tool for development?

While I was trawling around the Sustainable Brands show on the West Coast earlier this month learning about the marketing of solar power in making potato chips, a slightly more enlightened group met privately on the East Coast at a forum sponsored by Cornell University’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, to discuss the “great convergence” between clean technology and sustainable development.

I certainly hope we see more (and more open) conversation on the topic. Where power grids are not yet ubiquitous (and typically built on coal power), why don’t we just leapfrog the ‘old way’ and go directly to clean and decentralized energy, to bring the benefits of connectivity without the environmental costs? Where we see dirty, inefficient processes such as kerosene used for indoor lighting, or native firewood for cooking, why don’t we convert to cleaner and healthier options such as solar, wind, biomass, or geothermal? These fabulous solutions improve lives and reduce emissions.

The answer is wrapped up in politics, financial clout, and even world bank influence. Like many things, it all comes down to money. When I hear criticism of carbon offsetting (particularly as morally questionable) I usually reference these dual-purpose projects. ClimatePath features several, and will be adding more.   Many women in sub-Saharan Africa spend hours each day gathering firewood, for the privilege of being expose to lung problems related to smoke inhalation.  Why not measure the carbon saved by switching to a more efficient stove? Personal conservation is personal responsibility. But we all use some energy, and perhaps can invest some of our clean tech dollars where they can have dual impact.

Photo copyright enricod at


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Michael M.
Michael M.7 years ago

Global Warming is the biggest rip off scam ever. It is a total fabrication designed only to get more of your money.

Sonya G.
Sonya G.7 years ago

I wish someone would try to help me get the South African government to "see the light". I have solutions to many of the problems mentioned in this article. A stove that is enviro-friendly, boats that could run on the rivers using clean, alternative energy sources, as well as a solution to our "Escom" energy crisis. It would be great if I could get a petition signed, in order to force the powers-that-be to listen and to act fast.
Sonya in Cape Town, South Africa

Amanda R.
Amanda R.7 years ago

This is a good thought, a good way to try to find a silver lining, but I'm not sure there is any truth to it.

It seems to me that a lot of Western solutions are counterproductive, contributing to environmental devastation, global poverty, or both. It's just bad science. Our leaders aren't really as smart as one would hope.

Archana Banerjee
Archana Banerjee7 years ago

In our tropical country why we cant utilize more solar energy? All are running after to buy a car (whereas I ride on bicycle, bus/electric tram/train and people/ my colleagues think that I am very poor). Boating can be popularized also in our place with many canals and rivers. We need green technology. No organization is trying to spread that seriously. The forest dwellers gather native firewood for cooking but I think it often cleans the ground leaf litter and is far better than incineration. They are happy in their natural forest habitat, tribals used to worship trees as Goddess. At present they are lured by the so called civilized urban people to follow luxury and other bad practices.In some places the tribals are forced to leave their beautiful serene hamlocks.Extensive deforestation, industrial and agricultural extension, formation of ugly townships, hotels, in places of natural forests is common (as in the unique lateritic sal forest belts) in our India once with heavenly rich bio-geo-diversity.

Kim S.
Kim S.7 years ago

Real Truth about cap and trade

Read July's Rolling Stone