“We are burning up our future—literally,” the United Nations human rights chief said Monday, as she called the climate crisis a “rapidly growing and global threat to human rights.”
In fact, said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, “The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope.”
Bachelet’s warning came in her remarks to the Human Rights Council on the opening day of the body’s September session in Geneva.
No corner of the globe is untouched by the impacts of the warming planet, said Bachelet, noting that the crisis is already worsening hunger, conflict, and extreme weather. Among the current manifestations are the burning of the Amazon rain forest, the full impact of which “may never be known.”
While the fires’ impact may “catastrophic” on “humanity as a whole,” their worst effects, Bachelet said, “are suffered by the women, men, and children who live in these areas—among them, many indigenous peoples.”
The high commissioner also pointed to Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas last week. The storm “accelerated with unprecedented speed over an ocean warmed by climate shifts, becoming one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever to hit land,” she said, and took “a terrible toll on human life.” But worse could be yet to come for the Bahamas and other Caribbean nations, she said, as rising sea levels may submerge portions of the countries and unleash “an inestimable loss for humanity.”
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