Miriam Leitao at PostGlobal

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. She is also a commentator on Globo TV Network and runs her own blog, www.miriamleitao.com, hosted at Globo online at www.oglobo.com.br. She was awarded Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize in 2005. Close.

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. more »

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A Planetary Emergency – And Opportunity

The planet is now facing an emergency. According to scientists, the situation is terrible – and at the same time presents a new opportunity for humankind. We face a decision with only one right choice: to save our Earth.

The debate about global warming will force world leaders to take a straightforward look at forgotten dramas, because the effects of climate change will hurt most for those who have the least. It will be a process that aggravates inequalities, which are already at unacceptable levels. Even the IPCC’s best scenarios foresee devastation in Africa, spreading diseases in less developed countries, increasing hunger.

However, globalization creates a new chance. The information era and new technology are linking the world’s best minds. Minds that in another context would never have been able to connect are now free from the prison of distance and can share experience, knowledge and values. World leaders can see what is happening all over the planet; the entire picture is in front of them. Information about developments in each part of the global community reaches decision makers – government leaders and voters alike. Nobody can excuse himself by saying "I didn’t know anything about that."

Let us look at a single example. Bashir Goth from Somalia tells us in his response to this question that there is a way to bypass corrupt politicians and deliver World Bank assistance to the poorest Africans. He gave us a clear view in a few compelling words about what is wrong with international aid to Africa: they are forgetting the forgotten.

The other way to take advantage of globalization is to adopt similar medicine for similar syndromes, such as corruption, which damages many countries including my own. World institutions can develop technology to fight corruption by spreading information and recording data, which has helped in some countries. In many cases, local governments have been perpetuating the problems, and solutions must be spread down to local levels.

The solutions are connected: the bet way to combat corruption may be more effectively reducing extreme poverty. Fighting poverty may also provide an opportunity to protect the environment. Protecting the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Indonesia’s tropical forests could be the best way to help mitigate climate change, something that would benefit the Northern Hemisphere’s ecosystems as well.

This is a time for great decisions. Luckily, solutions converge. To mitigate the effects of climate change means to protect the poorest communities of the world; to reduce extravagant consumption in the richest countries means to create a new way of life all around the world. We are all together on the same planet, confronting the same destiny, threatened by the same global dangers. Can World leaders see the extreme risks and unparalleled opportunities of the present time? I wish they could.

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