Climate change, disproportionately caused by carbon emissions from America, seems to be behind a severe drought that has led crops to wilt across seven countries in southern Africa. The result is acute malnutrition for 1.3 million children in the region, the United Nations says.
Families are slowly starving because rains and crops have failed for the last few years. They are reduced to eating cactus and even rock or ashes. The United Nations estimates that nearly one million people in Madagascar alone need emergency food assistance.There are two lessons here, only one of which Kristof points out. The first is that we need to not only do all we can to curb climate pollution, we also need to help pay for its side effects. The second is that we need to continue to reach out to these populations to make sure that they have appropriate levels of reproductive health care, so that our efforts to keep people alive, especially children, are not defeated by a birth rate that is higher than local circumstances can sustain. These are not always popular messages, but they are vital to the future of the world, since we continue to add 78 million per year, as I noted a couple of days ago.