Global warming and Asian immigrant communities
I’m about a month behind in my email and in responding to comments here (sorry), but catching up fast… and in the backlog, I discovered this article on climate change from The Asian Reporter. Some choice bits are copied below.
Last year, last storm season, in several countries lining the far side of our moody Pacific, ferocious wind and rain, suddenly hungry rivers and streams, took away 700,000 Thai and Malay homes, destroyed 1.5 million Chinese dwellings, ruined 3 million Indian, Nepali, and Bangladeshi houses. And these losses represent only three of 2005’s record-breaking 73 storms in and around Asia. Those numbers are numbing. That’s more houses washed away than family homes standing in Oregon and Washington combined.
In fact, in a dozen more weather-sent calamities following the Leyte disaster, in other just as vulnerable areas of our aching earth, families sunk into misery even deeper than the poverty they endured before those storms. Poor people in poor countries got poorer still. The good news is In each instance also, we hasten to add, immigrant Americans responded immediately to their homeland’s suffering. Millions of U.S. dollars were sent or hand-carried back to where our hearts linger and our ancestral bones lie. It’s no secret that remittances from American Asians keep families back home, indeed keep entire developing countries, afloat. Foul weather on not.
The article goes on to ask whether immigrant communities can/ should take a larger role in changing US government climate policy formation, since disproportionately, it will be people in tropical coastal areas (and not Americans) who are affected by warming and related weather issues.
It seems like immigrants from coastal areas might have more at stake than the average American… but I don’t see coastal Texans leading the charge for progressive environment and energy policy while Minnesotans drag their heels. The larger problem is that no one wants to think about the implications of warming — not even those most likely to feel direct affects.
Similarly, I don’t see many Chinese Americans lobbying for increased public health projects that fight childhood diarrhea, one of the top killers of children across Asia — but I do see them sending money back for medical emergencies, and I also see them warning their immediate families not to eat the food or touch the water when they travel to China. Awareness of a problem does not necessarily beget a movement to solve it.