It’s hard to ignore the tension as the world hold it’s collective breath for the outcome of a meeting in Copenhagen on December 9-12 when the parties of
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meet for the last time on government level before the Kyoto climate agreement must be renewed (In 2012 the Kyoto Protocol to prevent climate changes and global warming expires). Governmental representatives from 170 countries are expected to convene at the Bella Center as well as over 8000 others from governmental representatives, NGO’s, journalists and concerned people.
This is a HUGE issue. The conclusion of the meeting will be the Copenhagen Protocol to prevent global warming and climate changes. It will affect you and me and all generations to come, very directly.
Floods in the Philippines – proof of climate change?
It’s not just me that is worried. A survey of world wide views on global warming polled 4,400 citizens of 38 countries revealed that 91% thought the climate situation very urgent. It is a huge relief that the human race is finally aware that there is a climate problem.
The way I see it there are two HUGE issues.
Should the worlds economies focus primarily on
1. Emissions reductions ie. Kick the carbon addiction
2. Climate change adaptation Ie. Find a way to live with climate change
According to the World Wide views on global warming 58% of citizens of industrial nations believe that between green house gas emissions should be reduced by 25 – 50%.
At the Copenhagen ClimateCouncil earlier this year, the president of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon said “We know that the safest way of reducing climate risks is to reduce emissions. We know that taking early action makes good business sense. And we know the cost of inaction will be much bigger that the cost of inaction now”.
But yet fewer people from developing nations though that they should face the same emissions reductions. The problem is that if low income countries agree to lower gas emissions they will be unable to develop at a desirable pace or to the standards they aspire to. They also cannot afford the cost of climate change adaptations.
But Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Program Executive Director says that cutting green house gases will not be enough. And Prof. Lu?ka Kajfež Bogataj from the University of Ljubljana agrees with him. On the Climate Thinkers Blog she says that the problem may be worse than we think “Deep down some of the scientists believe that we will soon be surprised to learn that the global climate change impact has been under estimated and that we will recognize that the climate change cost is even higher than was estimated”.
So my question is this. Do we humans really have the will to deal with climate change?
Well there’s a lot of shouting and yelling going on and activists are screaming for governments to agree to emissions controls.It feels good and people are being asked to make personal commitments to reduce their carbonf ootprint by 10%.
But do we really comprehend the scale of personal sacrifices that are needed for us to avert the consequences of climate change?
In this list what would you be willing to do?
- Live in cold houses through the winter
- Forgo air conditioning in the summer
- Sell your car and use only public means or walk to get about
- Eat much much less,
- Be a vegan
- Never travel on holiday again
Let’s face it, we are addicted to comfort – kicking the carbon habit = suffering. It aint gonna happen, most humans aren’t masochists.
As one very smart person said to me yesterday “we are constantly seeking to earn more so that we can live more comfortably, Americans will not change their way of life for climate change. Nor will they respond to the impacts of climate change which are already affecting poor countries“. The American who said this to me is a teenager. That scares me.
I am currently in Boston where it’s very cold outside and it’s toasty warm indoors – so warm that it’s delicious. I just don’t see people agreeing to be cold – it’s dangerous for our bodies and makes us grouchy.
Grouchy angry people are unpleasant to be around, but hungry starving people are dangerous
From what I’ve seen in Africa, I personally believe that the impacts of climate change will lead to civil conflicts, wars, and genocide.
Imagine what its like being a parstoralist in Northern Kenya where it has not rained for 3 years. Your cattle are starving and dying all around you. All your wealth could be gone in days unless you find grass and water. Your children are sickly and dying too – you watch them go for days with out eating. They don’t complain. Your wife is dehydrated, she cannot even produce tears when the youngest dies. You bury him in a shallow grave, you are too weak to dig any deeper. The sun is burning your skin but there is no shade, you are weak but you must keep moving in search of grass to keep the few emaciated cattle alive. You don’t care that you are in other peoples land, that they are armed and have threatened to kill you. You know that there will be a bloody battle so you carry a gun and you are ready to use it. You have armed your children and your wife too. This is a life or death struggle, you will do anything to stay alive and feed your family.
Sound fictional? It’s happening in Kenya right now watch this BBC video about drought conflict and elephants
The Copenhagen Treaty tries to address the immediate impact of climate change on developing nations and on page 122 it says
17. [[Developed [and developing] countries] [Developed and developing country Parties] [All Parties] [shall] [should]:]
(a) Compensate for damage to the LDCs’ economy and also compensate for lost opportunities, resources, lives, land and dignity, as many will become environmental refugees;
(b) Africa, in the context of environmental justice, should be equitably compensated for environmental, social and economic losses arising from the implementation of response measures.
First let me tell you I HATE LEGALESE.
But what worries me more is that this language sounds like socialism and I’m afraid it is a red flag to the capitalists (who happen to currently rule planet earth). If you’ve been following the health care debate in USA you’ll know what I mean. Comments on the Coyote blog confirm my worst fears about lack of empathy by some American people towards other non Americdans. All I can say is that these people frighten me.
It’s hard not to feel despair for the planet. I feel especially pained because climate change is affecting me. Kenyans are dying of starvation in a drought caused largely to climate change yet the countries that are mostly responsible for the climate change have not responded adequately to appeals and the WHO warns that only 10% of required food is available to feed 10 million starving people. I feel powerless to do anything to save my people. I know that suffering is already fueling conflicts.
Maybe it’s just me but I get the feeling that the countries attending the Copenhagen meeting are doing so with heavy hearts, the decisions at hand are very tough and will necessarily be painful. It’s as if to survive we have to chop off our limbs – otherwise we will slowly boil, and everything will be affected, oceans, soil, water, people, the air we breathe, wildlife and nature in general..
I’ve met many young people who believe it’s too late, we’re too greedy, too slow and too selfish.
But we cannot despair, it paralyses us. We are the thinking ape, LETS THINK up some solutions!
You can Help us!
We are inviting 30 guest bloggers to give us their views, their experiences, and to share their 3 big ideas in the run up to Copenhagen. If you would like to contribute please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org subject My Planet
For a great guide to Copenhagen visit the Climate Feedback Blog