Osama on climate change

It’s hard to know what to make of an audiotape released today by Al Jazeera, purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden. Rather than slamming the West for all the usual reasons, the al Qaeda leader branches into new territory: critiquing the global financial system and its reliance on the U.S. dollar, and blaming western industrialized ...

DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

It's hard to know what to make of an audiotape released today by Al Jazeera, purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden. Rather than slamming the West for all the usual reasons, the al Qaeda leader branches into new territory: critiquing the global financial system and its reliance on the U.S. dollar, and blaming western industrialized nations for acting too slowly to curb climate change:

"Talk about climate change is not an ideological luxury but a reality ... All of the industrialized countries, especially the big ones, bear responsibility for the global warming crisis."

If authentic, the tape was likely recorded from a hideaway in Pakistan near the Afghan border. In FP's July/August issue, Stephan Faris argued that the melting of Himalayan glaciers and the resulting water-use disputes in Kashmir are a major source of Pakistan's instability. So one could actually argue that bin Laden has been a rare beneficiary of climate change. 

It’s hard to know what to make of an audiotape released today by Al Jazeera, purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden. Rather than slamming the West for all the usual reasons, the al Qaeda leader branches into new territory: critiquing the global financial system and its reliance on the U.S. dollar, and blaming western industrialized nations for acting too slowly to curb climate change:

"Talk about climate change is not an ideological luxury but a reality … All of the industrialized countries, especially the big ones, bear responsibility for the global warming crisis."

If authentic, the tape was likely recorded from a hideaway in Pakistan near the Afghan border. In FP’s July/August issue, Stephan Faris argued that the melting of Himalayan glaciers and the resulting water-use disputes in Kashmir are a major source of Pakistan’s instability. So one could actually argue that bin Laden has been a rare beneficiary of climate change. 

There’s an easy punchline here about climate change having become the ultimate political football — with everyone from David Cameron to Evo Moralas to now Osama pointing fingers to serve varied ends — but I’ll refrain. It’s too true to be funny.

Christina Larson is an award-winning foreign correspondent and science journalist based in Beijing, and a former Foreign Policy editor. She has reported from nearly a dozen countries in Asia. Her features have appeared in the New York Times, Wired, Science, Scientific American, the Atlantic, and other publications. In 2016, she won the Overseas Press Club of America’s Morton Frank Award for international magazine writing. Twitter: @larsonchristina

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