Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
This report seems to continue a trend of mostly bad scientific news. It was just reported a few days ago that the Arctic may be free of ice during the summer in as little as 5 years. This time frame has quickly shrunk from a 100 years to 35 years to about 60 months. It is logical that these types of reports would spur leaders to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible but this does not appear to be the case.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
It appears that US did not succeed in completely wrecking the UN Summit in Bali on global warming that just ended. According to a report in The Guardian, after opposition to the refusal of the US to cooperate grew so intense it finally conceded a point and agreed to stop opposing technological and financial assistance to the poorer counties. But the US did succeed in removing from the final document all references to specific reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which probably was its main objective. So while the process moves forward, perhaps concluding with a final agreement by the end of 2009, it remains unclear where the process is headed. The science says that at a minimum greenhouse gas emissions must be stabilized by 2015 and reductions of about 80% from 1990 levels must occur by 2050. There is nothing in the final Bali document to acknowledge these goals which are aimed at preventing catastrophic climate change.
Politically, it appears that to have any hope of avoiding this impending catastrophe three things have to happen in the US elections next November: the Democrats retain control of the House, the Democrats win the Senate by several seats, and a Democrat or John McCain is elected president. Unless those three things fall into place there doesn’t seem to be any reason to continue to hold out hope. Even if those three things happen there still is no reason for any optimism. At the moment, the problem of limiting climate change seems overwhelming.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ICPCC) recently said when the IPCC released its fourth report of the year that "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment." It is hard to but it better than that. However, it appears the “we” which Pachauri refers to includes only the developed countries because in a statement made at the world conference on climate change being held in Bali, Indonesia he said that to get millions people out of poverty developing nations need to boost carbon emissions. In an AFP article Pachauri is quoted as saying that “If you have the case of India, a half billion people who do not even have electricity, what mitigation (of carbon emissions) can you carry out?”
Pachauri’s view is opposite to the conclusion from a report by the Center for Global Development (CGD) which I described yesterday. That report said that an increase in carbon emissions by developing counties to get large populations out of poverty would result in catastrophic climate change regardless of what developed countries did. Perhaps the president of the CGD, Nancy Birdsall, has the answer to this dilemma when she says as reported in DailyIndia that “To avoid a shared global disaster, we in the rich countries need to cut our own emissions quickly and do much more to help developing countries shift to a low-carbon future while at the same time meeting the just aspirations of their people for a better life.” The latter task is likely to be a tough sell in the developed countries but it may be our best hope.