Monday, December 21, 2009

There Is Now No Clear Path to Preventing Catastrophic Climate Change

With the Copenhagen climate meeting ending with the UN taking “note” of the Copenhagen Accord agreed to by the US, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa the belief that a UN agreement signed in 1992 would lead to the world taking steps to prevent catastrophic climate change has been proven to be an illusion. Instead of the world trying to solve the global warming problem we are left with a blame game for who is to blame for the failure. The environmental organization Friends of the Earth is blaming the rich countries. Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the UK, a rich country, is blaming China and some other developing countries. And so forth. The Kyoto Protocol, ratified by all developed countries except the US was supposed to be the first step toward stopping global warming and the meeting in Copenhagen was supposed to be where the details of the second step would be agreed on. Well, it looks like there is no second step. Apparently the billions of people in the world will be left to face the consequences of the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere not to mention the acidification of the oceans that threatens to wipe out marine life. So far Barack Obama hasn’t given us any indication that he can step in and stop this hurtling toward self-destruction. Up against the powerful fossil fuel industry, a public that largely doesn’t want to pay more for electricity no matter what the long-term consequences, coal miners and many others who depend on the coal mining industry for their jobs, and a Republican party that just seems to say no to any call for change by the Democrats, what can Obama really do? Probably he should have spoken out more about this problem, but would that really have helped? I guess we better get ready to pass some climate tipping points. This is not going to be pretty.

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