Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Dear President Obama
By Andy Caldwell

I am writing to you to ask you for your help.  I understand your country has suggested that poor countries like the one I live in could be the beneficiaries of $100 billion per year to mitigate the impacts of global warming.  In spite of the fact that any warming we have experienced is negligible at best, we would nonetheless be happy to take money from your people.
We are not exactly sure what to do with the money however.  You see, over three billion people like me live on $2.50 per day or less.  We don’t exactly generate much of any pollution.  We don’t have clean water, cars, refrigerators, air conditioning or heaters.  We are simply poor.  When we have food, we do cook it if we have some fuel for a fire, typically wood or coals or dried dung.  Would we have to eat all our food at room temperature if we take your money? Many of us live in very simple houses made of natural materials, or wood, tin, or cardboard.  Will these materials still be okay as long as they are renewable or recycled?
Would it be all right if our country uses your money to become industrialized and raise our standard of living?  Or, is that why China and India are having a problem with your proposal?  That is, would raising our standard of living necessitate industrial emissions of some sort that would defeat your goal of saving the planet? 
Speaking of saving the planet, I would like to speak with you about saving lives.  I recognize the hypothetical deaths that could arise from global warming, but in the meantime, I was wondering if we could use the money to address real causes of death in countries like mine?  Do you actually deal with real world problems?  If you do, we could sure use your help to save lives in imminent danger.
There are tens of millions of babies in Africa that have died unnecessarily from malaria because environmentalists from your country in essence banned the production of DDT.  This ban is still in effect even though spraying for mosquitoes in and around our residences was never controversial, only the use of the chemical in open fields.  Could we use the money to produce and use DDT?
There are many places in the world where tribal, ethnic, religious and civil wars are resulting in man-made famines and misery like you wouldn’t believe.  Untold numbers of people live in squalid refugee camps.  Could we maybe use your money to come to the United States?  We don’t care how warm it is there due to climate change, it would be better for us there than here.  If not, could we hire your military to come protect us?  Our mothers and sisters are getting raped, and our fathers and brothers get shot or have their arms cut off.  It is really bad.
Additionally, we lose tens of thousands of lives every year from the ravages of Mother Nature.  Typhoons, earthquakes, floods, drought, pestilence, and the like.  It would be great if we could use your money to modernize and protect our communities with engineering standards that would help us to withstand these ravages as your country does.  The question is, how can we build our infrastructure without the use of unsustainable materials such as concrete, steel, and petroleum based products like asphalt?
A final plea.  Please don’t give the money directly to our leaders, they keep the money for themselves and never do anything good with it to actually help the poor.  Your country should know that by now.
Andy Caldwell is the Executive Director of COLAB and a 41 year resident of the Central Coast.
For contact information, visit the COLAB website at
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