Sunday, November 18, 2007

Will the US Budge on Global Warming at Bali?

With the time window closing rapidly on taking effective action against global warming what happens next month at the world conference in Bali, Indonesia has taken on great importance. In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon speaking about the upcoming Bali meeting at yesterday’s release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, "The world's scientists have spoken clearly and with one voice. I expect the world's policy-makers to do the same.” According to the Associated Press, the report, which was basically a compilation of the three previous IPCC reports this year, stated that “carbon emissions, mainly from fossil fuels, must stabilize by 2015 and then drop. At best, temperatures will keep rising from carbon already in the atmosphere...Even if factories were shut today and cars taken off the roads, the average sea level would reach as high as 4.6 feet above that in the preindustrial period, or about 1850.”

Getting carbon emissions to stabilize by 2015 will not be easy since they are increasing globally by about 3% to 4% annually with almost half of the increase attributable to China. For any success the process for reducing emissions must start very soon, for example, in Bali. However, George W. Bush continues to reject a mandatory cap on emissions. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that an administration that has accepted large sums of money from the fossil fuel industries for campaigning, has a political base that includes Rush Limbaugh ditto heads and the global warming denying religious right, and is ideologically opposed to government regulation of business is about to change course any time soon. Bali seems likely to be one more world conference on global warming where little if anything gets accomplished.

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