Of the ten Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the seventh, which relates to environmental protection, is the most spectacular failure. Hastily conceived, and almost overlooked by Mark Malloch Brown, then administrator of the United Nation Development Programme, this Goal seeks to “ensure environmental sustainability.” One of its targets is to “integrate principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes” and “reverse the loss of environmental resources.” While its other targets (improve water access and the lives of slum dwellers) are more on track, the failure of the main theme is extremely serious, threatening not only to worsen the lives of future slum dwellers, but to destroy civilization within a century.
The forthcoming summary for policymakers of the IPCC working group II has been leaked. This includes a summary of the health findings (to which I made a small contribution). Its conclusions are very conservative; the conceptualisation of health effects in the IPCC currently excludes that from existing food price rises and also from conflict. In contrast, my forthcoming edited book, called "Climate Change and Human Health" (CABI, 2014) explicitly considers cumulative effects such as famine, mass migration and conflict as likely to arise in part from climate change, and as having significant health effects. Already, Typhoon Haiyan has killed over 1,000 people. But its eventual burden of disease is much larger than this, due to indirect effects such as via food insecurity, infrastructure damage, and despair.
Naomi Klein is now adding her voice to calls for civil disobedience. The need for this is increasingly obvious.