Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Climate Change II

Photo: Campbell Shelf Ice (NOAA) from Wikimedia
Andrew Revkin and James Kanter have an article in today's NY Times "Climate Conference Begins to Feel Pressure of the Clock."  Having been a "sherpa"/ observer on international agreements on marine pollution, I feel a great deal of sympathy for those people who are working so hard to come up with an agreement that the politicians can sign.  National interests, both economic and political are always there and especially in the case of climate change the question of who pays is always there.  The authors say:

The main points of contention remain as they have been for years, with a gulf to be bridged particularly on four points:
  • How much and how fast rich countries should cut their emissions or pledge to limit the rise in planetary temperature.
  • How much emerging economic powers like China and India should rein in the growth of their emissions, and how they should prove they have diverted from “business as usual.”
  • How much rich countries should compensate poor ones to limit vulnerability to climate extremes that are expected to worsen in many regions near the Equator as greenhouse gases build in the atmosphere and seas continue rising.
  • How those money flows can be guaranteed, given that past commitments under earlier climate pacts have largely gone unpaid, and which bloc gets to manage and administer the money.
And, as expected, the Republican right is leading the charge denying that there is such a thing as global warming citing some questions on data from a British center. It's just a red herring. The article goes on to say:
Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, has led that charge, proclaiming over the weekend that the climate proposals of China and other large industrialized countries were a smokescreen for what was really an economic battle. Over the weekend, his official blog quoted him as saying, “China, India, Mexico, they’re all champing at the bit for America to ration our energy, because they know they’ll get our manufacturing jobs.”
Of course this battle has an economic component.  However, study after study seems to show that saving energy saves money in the long run.  Both the World Meteorological Organization and our NOAA say that the decade we are now in is warmer than the 1990s.  But it looks like economics will triumph.  I only hope that whatever the proposals are they do take scientific data seriously.  Trying to redress all the ills of the world by tying it to this one issue will not work.

Controlling marine pollution is a piece of cake compared to climate change.  But even then, we worked till the wee hours to get a final draft done. It took four years and five-10 day meetings to come up with a regional agreement, so I can just imagine the background work it has taken on this issue which is global.

Rich countries, like the U.S., really will have to belly up to the bar.  Denying that we've not contributed to a problem that is far more likely to affect the poorer countries of the world so flies in the face of the message that Jesus brought.  Pray for all who are working to bring about an international agreement and pray that this time the U.S. will sign on in spite of Inhofe and his ilk.

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