Endless Curiosity

December 23, 2009

Climate Change: Copenhagen, Failure or Folly?

Filed under: Climate Change, Politics — Alec @ 10:01 am

Of course, by now you’ll have read all sorts of things about Copenhagen and the agreements made there. So I’m not telling you anything new. But here are a couple of articles that perhaps you should read (okay, three articles).

The first one you should read just because of its title :-). For Obama, No Opportunity Too Big to Blow. Choice paragraph:

I understand all the arguments about not promising what he can’t deliver, about the dysfunction of the U.S. Senate, about the art of the possible. But spare me the lecture about how little power poor Obama has. No president since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the U.S. into something that doesn’t threaten the stability of life on this planet. He has refused to use each and every one of them. Let’s look at the big three.

The second article is from George Monbiot, Requiem for a Crowded Planet. Interestingly he also places the fundamental blame on Obama, but the Guardian newspaper, in which the article appeared, gave it a title and subtitle that places the blame on the U.S. Senate. Here are the paragraphs that give the differing perspectives:

The immediate reason for the failure of the talks can be summarised in two words: Barack Obama. The man elected to put aside childish things proved to be as susceptible to immediate self-interest as any other politician.  …

Why would Obama do this? You have only to see the relief in Democratic circles to get your answer. Pushing a strong climate programme through the Senate, many of whose members are wholly owned subsidiaries of the energy industry, would have been the political battle of his life. Yet again, the absence of effective campaign finance reform in the US makes global progress almost impossible.

I happen to agree that campaign finance reform is critical, and I’ve blamed the Supreme Court for that.

Some people have a completely different perspective on the climate change problem – that an increase in temperature is inevitable, and that we should be focusing on adaptation, not prevention. There’s something to be said for that, although the human cost in Asia and especially Africa will be staggering. But, hey, they are “the other” so who gives a damn? Nigel Lawson, a former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote Time for a Climate Change Plan B. Here are a few quotes:

The world’s political leaders, not least President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are in a state of severe, almost clinical, denial…….they insist that what has been achieved is a breakthrough and a decisive step forward.

Or so we are told. It is, of course, the purest nonsense…..

Far from achieving a major step forward, Copenhagen—predictably—achieved precisely nothing….

The reasons for the complete and utter failure of Copenhagen are both fundamental and irresolvable….

The time has come to abandon the Kyoto-style folly that reached its apotheosis in Copenhagen last week, and move to plan B. And the outlines of a credible plan B are clear. First and foremost, we must do what mankind has always done, and adapt to whatever changes in temperature may in the future arise.

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