Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oxfam, Global Warming and Money

Adapting to climate change: What’s needed in poor countries, and who should pay
What Oxfam's paper says and what it means.

Yesterday, I noted en passant:
"I read Oxfam's Briefing Paper "Adapting to Climate Change: What's Needed in Poor Countries and Who Should Pay" last night, how many folks can (or would want to) say that."
I have an explanation, a confession and a nit to pick.

Explanation: that bit in parenthesis refers to my sadness at what Oxfam has become. It was founded as the "Oxford Committee for Famine Relief" to feed starving Greek civilians trapped between the British naval blockade and German indifference to their plight.
I first became aware of Oxfam in 1968 when they began airlifting food to the Biafrans being starved into submission by their own government. More here, here and here.

In the forty years since, Oxfam has experienced what the military calls "mission creep", which is natural for any large organization, they tend to self-perpetuate. Oxfam is no longer your father's relief organization, a fact pointed out to me by my English friends and has caused great dissention in the NGO community. Oxfam has been vilified as, at minimum a corporate sellout and at worst a willing stooge of the British government by activists and non-profits. Oxfam's quasi-government position (when I stopped contributing in 1998, 25% of their $168 mm budget came from the gov.) Knowing this history made me feel sorry for myself having to read their paper.

Confession: I am a closet policy wonk and have probably read 100,000 pages on this stuff since Maurice Strong and Al Gore got together for the Rio shindig in 1992. I am a bore at parties.

Nit to pick: I don't think anyone read the actual Oxfam paper! Last night I scanned 300 blogs and newspapers for reactions and every one of them just quoted the press release, usually verbatim and usually just the first few paragraphs!

Now I can maybe understand the journalists not reading the whole 47 pages, they're busy. But the bloggers?
According to Google, Climateer Investing readers are smart, successful and good looking (you think Google doesn't know everything about you?) yet not one of you clicked on the Oxfam link yesterday (okay, it wasn't Google that told us, rather, it was some pretty fancy software, that tells us what you like and what you want more of).

It's a shame no one read Oxfam's paper, there's something for everyone, my lefty friends, right-wing nutjobs, Eurocrats, NGO's, Jacque Chirac, conspiracy theorists, one worlders, the arts community, everyone.

I'll tell you what it means in part two. I love my readers, I really do.