Copenhagen: what else?

Posted December 7th, 2009 in Blog, Featured 7 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Copenhagen has center stage for a couple of weeks – for good or ill, right? — hosting the international conference on climate change.   I resist those who say that the planet lives or dies by Copenhagen.  If that’s the case, get ready for death.

air pollution off US east coast - NASA photo

air pollution off US east coast - NASA photo

But it’s not the case.  It is one step, and the significance of it is yet to be seen.  Certainly the days leading up to it seemed to indicate that the most reluctant nations are finally getting the message — the US, China, India, for example — all making modest pledges to do something (Obama ->  reducing CO2 emissions by 17% below 2005 levels, a trifle, really, and 83% by 2050, though how he is going to do that or what he proposes to do that, is far from clear and as yet has no real political support).  But so far all those somethings don’t amount to much, or nearly enough.  Meanwhile, the rich western post-industrial societies that created the crisis and built their economies off of it, are also not yet prepared to meet the demands of poorer countries who think their efforts to cut emissions should be subsidized by the wealthy.

Another word for this is – justice.

My NY Times reading on this today was interesting.  First there is Andrew Revkin’s good reporting on the climate change conference and the impact of the so-called email scandal – the theft of thousands of emails of climate scientists at the Climate Research Unit, University of East Anglia in England.  Supposedly these emails prove that the science that purports proof of human-induced global warming is a fraud.  Actually, the emails indicate nothing of the kind, but you wouldn’t know that from listening to Fox News or Sen. Imhofe or Rep. Sensenbrenner.  I doubt they’ve read the thousands of pages, but some have and see no fraud.

In any case, here’s Revkin’s good article today, written with John Broder:

In Face of Skeptics, Experts Affirm Climate Peril

Then I was intrigued by accompanying Opinion pieces today, one from Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, whose writings on economics I always appreciate, and the other from doomsday climate scientist James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of our most brilliant in this matter.

An Affordable Truth, by Krugman
Cap and Fade, by Hansen

Why intrigued? Because the economist argues enthusiastically for a cap-and-trade system to cut emissions, and the scientist argues vigorously that this won’t work.

China air pollution - NASA photo

China air pollution - NASA photo

I don’t trust the market, and I find it woeful that we will try to create one that makes profits for private industry out of our attempts to cut CO2 emissions.  Hansen’s approach is one we support – a tax on carbon right from the starting point of its production, then putting the funds generated into programs of mitigation and adaptation.  His approach has the added incentive of being quick enough, if fully and effectively implemented, to keep up with the nature of the escalating threat with the least amount of future suffering.  Carbon is quickly reduced because it becomes expensive while alternatives become priced in a way that is competitive with and then ultimately cheaper than fossil fuels.

So, let’s keep all those folks at the conference in our thoughts these days. And keep the heat on the House and Senate.  Don’t let the deniers dominate this national conversation.  More people in this country doubt global warming science than as recently as 5 years ago.  Our voices are needed to drown out the deniers with a good dose of truth and a measure of urgency.

In the end, Copenhagen won’t decide the fate of the planet, though the cost of failure would be pretty terrible.  But in the end, the fate of the planet still depends on creating cultures and movements around the world willing to do what needs to be done to salvage the atmosphere in which we live and move and have our being – to scale down the industrial way of life drastically, and to share the sacrifice equitably and compassionately.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 Responses

  1. Steve Salmony

    Perhaps now is a good time to breathe deeply and celebrate.

    President Barack Obama is in Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This is a moment for rejoicing and listening to the words of a great person. He is deserving of a Nobel Prize because he is a beacon of light and hope in an awakening world that has suffered grievously through the past 8 long, dark years with leadership known mostly for its disasterous decisonmaking, disinformation, delay, denial, duplicity and dunderheadedness.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

  2. Steve Salmony

    Yvo De Boer and the leaders of Copenhagen Climate Change Conference are engaged in “the good fight” at the last, best opportunity for human civilization to save the planet for the children and coming generation as a fit place for human habitation. Years ago I was told that my generation had a duty to leave the world a better place than what is was when it was given to us by our forefathers and foremothers. It goes without saying that my not-so-great generation of greed-mongering elders will fall woefully short of discharging its responsibilities. Come what may for the children. Too many arrogant and selfish leaders in a single generation have recklessly chosen to fight wrongful wars for wrongheaded reasons, at a cost of blood and treasure that is as astounding in its stupidity as it is incalculable to measure.

  3. Steve Salmony

    The last, best chance for the children is “now-here”. Let’s hope those with power to create the colossal ecological mess that is now presented to humanity will agree to help clean the global mess up before it is too late for human interventions to make a difference.

    Human-induced challenges can certainly be acknowledged, addressed and overcome by human-driven action.

  4. Steven Earl Salmony

    Dear Nobel Laureate and President Barack Obama,

    Please save the world from greedy fat cats and fossil fools.



    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

  5. Margaret

    Steve, I can’t place my hope in Copenhagen. The change we need will not come from those who have so much power at stake in the world as it is. It must come from below. The energy needs to be directed into creating communities of non-participation in the global capitalist system that has created the crisis. These guys are trying to figure out a way to cut emissions while salvaging that system.

    It is not our last best chance to save the planet for human life. That is putting way too much power and authority in their hands. It would be great if they would really do the drastic things required, but they won’t. Maybe a little mitigation, perhaps some adaptation funds – not nearly enough.

    What is needed is to create the kinds of communities and cultures that remove the power and authority from them by not propping up the system anymore with what we assume we need for a successful life.

    Hope is somewhere else. That’s where I need to go.

    So, onward, and thank you so much for your heartfelt commitment and dedication!


  6. Steve Salmony

    Dearest Margaret,

    May the wind be ever at your back……. Keep going.


  7. hombredelatierra

    These folks in an English town are rebuilding community and resilience from the bottom (grassroots) up.

    As the “Old Economy” (cheap fossil fuel) passes, decentralized economies will be better suited – I hope! – to the new rules of the emerging “New Economy”. We must do all we can to assist these efforts and to share information. The age of networking is here, let’s use it for something life affirming..

    Check out the website posting I gave above which discusses some of the potential advantages of the New Economy.

    And Happy and Prosperous New Year 2010 to All!