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Tackling the Climate Challenge

torepairtheworldFrom the desk of Pat Ford, SOS executive director. May 10, 2013

For some years I have been seeking simple, evocative ways to communicate a core SOS conviction as we all confront climate change: that work to stop or slow it, and work to weather or respond to it, must be done each in concert with the other, in strategic and task unison. I won’t outline here the many reasons this is so, but I can if requested.

I just found my newest candidates for the simplest, most evocative way so far, in a book by Dr. Paul Farmer called To Repair the World. He is the amazing co-founder and leader of Partners in Health, the group begun in Haiti but now working in nations across earth to bring health care, education and clean water to the poorest of people. His book is a group of his speeches to graduating classes of many kinds. I recommend it; this is a man to listen to.

Partners in Health has a basic principle in its work: integrate prevention and care. This is something we, and other conservationists, and leaders of all kinds, must do with climate change. We must integrate work to prevent it and to care for those afflicted by it, a group that includes all of us and the web of life of which we are part. But, as Dr. Farmer reminds and re-reminds us, those first in being afflicted by climate chaos will primarily be the voiceless: poor people and the web of life minus us. (That’s quite a phrase: the web of life minus us. It describes a way we tend to think that is not the way it is.)

Prevention and care. This captures pretty well our moral and civic obligations, to both people and our part of the earth, as we talk and work with others on climate change.

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