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“Climate Change as New Apartheid” Topic of Talk at Moravian College

Diane HusicBethlehem, Pa., March 27, 2012--Diane Husic, professor and chair of biological sciences will give a talk on Monday, April 2, titled Lessons from South Africa: Is Climate Change the “New Apartheid” of the 21st Century? as a part of this year’s IN FOCUS theme of poverty and inequality. The presentation will take place at 4 p.m. in PPHAC 102. Admission is free and is open to all students, faculty and staff. The media is invited to attend.

The framework for the talk was built on Husic’s recent trip to South Africa. For the past three years, Moravian College has sent groups of students and faculty to attend the UN climate change conference as civil observers, and last November, the UN climate change conference was in South Africa. This year’s conference was particularly crucial in terms of international and environmental policy because the current treaties regarding climate change end this year.

“What has emerged since those treaties went into effect, which goes back to 1995, is that the original ideas were insufficient in terms of dealing with the problem. They were also based largely on what we would refer to as ‘developed nations’ and while all the developing nations or under-developing nations were part of the negotiations and discussions, they didn’t have to commit to anything because it was believed that [the developing nations] didn’t cause the problems and therefore shouldn’t worry about coming up with solutions,” Husic says.

However, certain countries were excluded from these treaties, such as China, India, and Brazil, and over the past 17 years, those countries have grown in terms population as well as in the amount of greenhouse gases they are admitting.

“You’ve got this set of rules that applies to one set of nations and not to another even though they’re both contributing in major ways” Husic says.

Also, the developing countries aren’t contributing much to the problem of climate changes but they are the ones that were fighting its effects, which is where the tie-in to the IN FOCUS theme of poverty and inequality lies, not to mention that South Africa already has previous connections to inequality in the racial apartheid that took place there from 1948 to 1994.

In fact, many people who discuss climate change in South Africa use the term “climate apartheid.” This is something else Husic will discuss: the controversy of using the word apartheid when discussing climate change.

The main purpose of the talk is to create awareness about climate change on the international scale as well as to “create a conversation rather than trying to convince someone that climate change is happening or not” she adds.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Moravian partners with students to build a strong foundation for their future. Visit the College’s Web site at www.moravian.edu.