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LaughingPlanet asked Why Doesn't the World Care About Pakistanis? I answered his question the day before as part of my Climate Change News Roundup for tonight because why the world does not simply rush without question to help our brothers and sisters is crucial to our shared future. (However, my CCNR grew to over 5,000 words so will post it as a separate diary tomorrow.) The world has been discussing the reasons that are generally related to fear and fatigue. In the U.S., Bush used racism to spread fear with the now presumption that all Muslims must be terrorists. Even if the financial crisis precludes our ability to donate to Pakistan, we can take actions to dispel the fears and support each other to override the fatigue so that friends or colleagues will donate money. Everyone can help to try to prevent future disasters because government officials and some scientists now openly state that the fires in Russia and the floods in Pakistan are linked to climate change.

If you have money to donate, there are some links below. But if you don't have money, you can still help in many ways. You can explain to friends and family why it is important to donate to help Pakistan by rebutting the reasons stated for not providing aid. You can write Letters to the Editor to persuade others.

There have been a number of reasons proffered as to why the world is not supporting Pakistan with more aid.  There are explanations of donor fatigue, Pakistan fatigue, disaster fatigue, Muslim victims, corrupt Pakistan government, financial crisis, terrorism fear, etc.

For Americans, these reasons piled onto the heap of 8 prior years of Bush/Cheney using the fear and racism cards as part of their strategy to keep Americans in a state of shock and fear while they slid their inhumane and often illegal policies into laws to benefit the corporations and rich at our expense.  They used the game of divisiveness to weaken our strength by unity. Some in the GOP -- united with right wingers, deathers, birthers, tea baggers, and climate change deniers -- grabbed the fear and racism cards to continue the deadly game of obstruct, delay, deny, and be the party of no with President Obama.

Scientists have cautioned for years about the distinction between climate and weather and how it is difficult to draw a linkage between extreme weather or natural disasters, like Pakistan, and climate change. We have ridiculed the climate deniers who pointed to snowstorms as evidence that climate charge was a myth. On the other hand, there are government reports explaining the climate change impacts happening now and how the projected impacts for the future will worsen if we don't take effective action now. Some respond by saying that we need not worry because the predicted impacts won't happen until years down the road.  

The forest fires in Russia and the floods in Pakistan have changed the dynamics of climate change debate. While some scientists still caution about the linkage between extreme weather/natural disasters and climate change, there are now government officials and scientists saying that the increase in natural disasters worldwide in recent years can be linked to climate change.  We need to support each other when feeling disaster fatigue because government officials are now warning us that we have a long road ahead with climate change impacts if we continue to avoid comprehensive climate change legislation.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

"I think that there is a linkage (between climate change and natural disasters). You can't point to any particular disaster and say, it was caused by... But we are changing the climate of the world; we have seen that with the Russian forest fires, even the Russian Government that has been somewhat sceptical about climate change," Hillary told a news channel in an interview.

Although there was no direct link between the Russian forest fire and the flood in Pakistan, Clinton said: "But when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we are now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out."

Clinton is not alone in making this connection. Scientists, UN officials, governments are now openly stating that the Pakistan floods are tied to climate change. Many experts still caution against "tying any specific event directly to emissions of greenhouse gases. But scientists at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva say there’s no doubt that higher Atlantic Ocean temperatures contributed to the disaster begun late last month."  Moreover, "[a]tmospheric anomalies that led to the floods are also directly related to the same weather phenomena that a caused the record heat wave in Russia and flooding and mudslides in western China ... ."  

While it is true that other factors, such as deforestation, intensive land-use practices (destruction of ecosystems, converting wetlands to farms, clogging up natural drainage systems with garbage) or mismanagement of water resources might have contributed to the flooding in Pakistan,  "top U.N. and Pakistani government officials are now clearly pointing to climate change as the principal culprit."

Experts are drawing the links between climate change and both the Pakistan floods and the fires in Russia.  Extreme weather driven partly by global warming, experts say.

They're raging a continent apart, but two deadly natural disasters—the Russian wildfires and the Pakistan floods—may be connected by the Asian monsoon, one of the most powerful atmospheric forces on the planet, scientists say.

That's because the monsoon—a seasonal wind system that brings rain and floods to Pakistan and much of the rest of Asia in summer—also drives the circulation of air as far away as Europe ... .

...Such circulation patterns are normal, but they're also being enhanced by rising sea temperatures due in part to global warming, he added.

What about the terrorism fear card?  If someone you know feels this way, then please remind them that when the world does not step up to aid Pakistan flood victims, then the void is filled by fundamentalists eager to win over hearts and minds:  

The U.S. government is concerned that an "inadequate response in Pakistan could destabilize the government there and undermine military goals across the border."  U.S. and Pakistan officials have warned that some of the "worst-hit areas are strongholds of al-Qaida, the Taliban and associated groups."  One hardline Islamist organization has 2,000 members working for flood relief in Pakistan to fill the void by the world's inaction by providing roadside aid stations, distributing clothing, carrying people on their shoulders to their own ambulances and providing housing shelter other than holding plastic sheeting over their bodies.

Yet, for many, it was 20 days before aid reached them. (CNN video at link.) 1, 600 dead and 20 million affected and several million people have lost their homes.

Twenty percent of Pakistan is underwater. That's comparable to Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas completely submerged. This is what the Pakistan floods would look like if California had been the flood zone.

The health crisis in Pakistan needs assistance now:

Water is needed to prevent dehydration.  Medical facilities are stretched so badly that care is provided outdoors.

The misery in Pakistan can be seen in the faces of men, women and children in these 197 pictures of Pakistan flood crisis.

If you have money, The Nation wrote an article listing and describing How to Help in Pakistan. There are ways to assist groups that are already on the ground, including:

  • Global Fund for Women: Provides "emergency support for women's organizations to rebuild communities and continue their work long after this disaster is past."
  • UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):  "Text "SWAT" to 50555 from your phone to give $10 and help the flood victims in Pakistan.

    The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has partnered with mGive again to allow mobile contributions for the flood victims in Pakistan.

    UNHCR emergency response teams are distributing tents, relief supplies, and humanitarian assistance to an estimated 200,000 people displaced by the recent flooding."

  • Rural Support Programmes Network "is a national, Pakistani organisation and the largest non-government network of rural development programmes in the country, called Rural Support Programmes or RSPs. The RSPs mobilise rural women and men on a self help basis to undertake activities in areas of relief and rehabilitation, community built infrastructure, community financing (micro credit and health insurance), building employable skills, agriculture, livestock, small enterprise and other sectors. The RSPs work in 105 districts of the country’s 138 districts and have mobilized over 3 million rural households."

A list of additional organizations for donations can be found in the Help Pakistan diaries.

If you want to help prevent future disasters, and don't have money, you can also help fight for comprehensive climate change legislation.  You can work with us in the DK eco community, with EcoAdvocates and our DK GreenRoots 10/10 campaign by participating in local actions to implement alternative energy projects. Our assistance need not be dependent on how much money Dickie/Georgie left in our pockets now.

Originally posted to Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:55 PM PDT.

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