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Evangelical aid organizations were told in early October that global warming is a moral issue because the consequences of global warming disproportionately affect the poor.

Rising temperatures around the world are leading to increasing incidents of famine, hurricanes, and disease outbreaks in developing countries that are ill equipped to handle such disasters.

"Climate change is indeed, I believe, a moral, ethical, and developmental issue, rather than a simple environmental issue," said Robert T. Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank, during an October 4 briefing on climate change at World Vision's Washington, D.C., office.

Watson, the former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was among the scientists and government officials addressing Christian aid group representatives learning about current and long-term effects of climate change on hunger, refugees, and human health.

Human activities such as the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, along with deforestation, have significantly increased the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases, Watson said. As a result, the earth's temperature has increased 0.6 degrees Celsius during the past hundred years.

Global warming, he says, has already triggered floods, heat waves, and other extreme weather events. Water availability and quality in arid and semi-arid regions has declined as the number of malaria and cholera cases in Third World countries has risen.

According to the Evangelical Environmental Network, which co-sponsored the briefing with World Vision, some 160,000 people die annually worldwide due to famine, malnutrition, and other side effects of global warming.

"It's basically a poverty agenda," Watson said, noting that within the next 20 to40 years, the ...

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October 2004

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