Friday, December 18, 2009

No one can do anything right

Well what do you know, the World can't get its shit together either. We spend so much time here chronicling the failures of our own government to do things that other industrialized nations did 4-5 decades ago, that it's nice to see that they have the same problems we do on the issues of today. Shame it's going to kill us all. Ah well, at least I live far enough in from the coast to avoid drowning.

I'm speaking, of course, of the Copenhagen climate conference. With proceedings being described as an "elaborate sham" and the possibility of any deal getting done dramatically in question, today we learn that even the measures they were preparing to sign off on were woefully inadequate.
The emissions cuts offered so far at the Copenhagen climate change summit would still lead to global temperatures rising by an average of 3C, according to a confidential UN analysis obtained by the Guardian.

With the talks entering the final 24 hours on a knife-edge, the emergence of the document seriously undermines the statements by governments that they are aiming to limit emissions to a level ensuring no more than a 2C temperature rise over the next century, and indicates that the last day of negotiations will be extremely challenging.

A rise of 3C would mean up to 170 million more people suffering severe coastal floods and 550 million more at risk of hunger, according to the Stern economic review of climate change for the UK government – as well as leaving up to 50% of species facing extinction. Even a rise of 2C would lead to a sharp decline in tropical crop yields, more flooding and droughts.
Worldwide action needed, experts all saying the same thing, consensus reached on solutions, but leaders can't seem to do anything other than pass half-measures and paens to the industries that caused the problem in the first place. Where have we heard this before? At the very least, people are saying that this isn't America's fault; it's China's. America, on the other hand, is being described as helpful and "pulling things back from the brink." Weird to hear that, I know. Hell, Obama even took to trying to shame and put pressure on those who were trying to hold up a deal. A nice attempt, but still a little hollow knowing that anything the Copenhagen conference agrees to and Obama wants to sign on to will still have next to no chance of passing the US Senate.

But as we approach the end it seems that our world leaders have come up with one concrete plan of action: work their asses off to draft a weak, face saving agreement with which they can use to pretend something was done. Because what you want in a comprehensive climate agreement is a draft that has the words "ought to", "scout's honor", "Totally promise", "It would be nice if...", and "let's hope and pray" prominently featured. So as the world shows us how to fail on a global scale, we in America can take solace in a few things: this time it wasn't our fault, we tried to help, and anyway it's the developing countries that are going to be most negatively affected by the temperature changes. We win again.

No comments: