The futureClimate Change. Will it be our undoing or our rebirth?

COP15 starts on December 7, 2009. That’s my son’s birthday. He will be eleven.

He has always wanted to be a scientist. Climate change will have to have been long handled by the time he gets to be one, but I know his contributions will be great, wherever they are.

Lately he’s been into mystery novels and told a career person at school he wants to be a PI. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear! Maybe he can out climate-deniers’ real agenda or out dirty energy users (hopefully neither will exist by then).

COP stands for Conference of Parties, and it will be occurring for the 15th time. To put it into context, COP8 took place in Kyoto, Japan in 1992.

COP15 will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s in fact the United Nations Climate Change Conference to renegotiate Kyoto’s replacement, as it expires  in 2012 and has always been too lenient.

Back to my son for a minute. In 2050 he will be 52.

The group [Climate Action Initiative] took the upper-range targets of nearly 200 nations’ climate policies–including U.S. cuts that would reduce domestic emissions 73 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, along with the European Union’s pledge to reduce its emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 — and found that even under that optimistic scenario, the average global temperature is likely to warm by 6.3 degrees. (Washington Post.)

Recently I watched a 60 Minutes piece on the last great migration of large animals, the wildebeest. I don’t know that my son is going to be able to live in a world where he can witness such a natural phenomenon. My first feeling was to put us on plane to Africa to see it for ourselves.

Today, October 15, 2009 is Blog Action Day once again. The Reiki Help Blog is participating for the third year. Previous themes were Poverty and the Environment. This year the focus is Climate Change, a subject that’s very much part of the past content of this blog.

There has never been any really good arguments or evidence disproving global warming which is now already happening and heading toward critical levels.

When the IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, the report it issued really silenced all other voices. Well, there are a few still. Leo Hickman of the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper recently reported about a TV ad paid for by an oil industry lobbyist telling Americans “more CO2 results in a greener earth.” Video of ad (for email subscribers).

This kind of unconscionable lobbying is part of the fray, as infuriating and puzzling as it may be. The fact of the matter is, “…recent scientific assessments have outstripped the predictions issued by the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007” as reported in the Washington Post article linked above.

These figures can be seen on ClimateInteractive.org.

We have yet to appreciably mitigate climate change, but the bogeyman has morphed. What’s different is that it’s now topical in a highlighted, urgent manner, with focused international attention on it. If that will be enough is anyone’s guess. Is it too late to take action? Perhaps. One thing is for sure. We can’t not take action. That would be collective suicide, and we’ll have grossly failed in the substantial stewardship that has been bestowed on us as the most “evolved” species.

In September, secretary general Ban Ki-moon organized the UN climate summit meeting at which Obama spoke clearly and assertively “to make the United States a leader in the global arena on global warming” (New York Times). It’s well worth reading his entire presentation, even just to see how much has happened in the U.S. response to this challenge (finally). There’s movement, much more precise, frequent and targeted movement than before.

Our generation’s response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it – boldly, swiftly and together – we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe. No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples – our prosperity, our health, our safety – are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out. -President Obama, New York, Sept. 22, 2009

And with December’s COP15 summit in Copenhagen occurring around the same time and region as the Dec. 10 Nobel festivities in Oslo, environmentalists have even greater hope: “Now that we know President Obama will be in Scandinavia in December,” says the WWF’s U.S. climate-change director, “expectations are even higher that he will attend the Copenhagen climate summit in person to usher in a fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement.”

Following his speech, Obama also greenlighted the EPA’s “new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities” (New York Times).

September’s New York summit also gave “a strong boost to the negotiations over a major international treaty” (The Guardian). According to The Guardian’s online reporting:

Although the political leaders must devise and implement the right policies to guide national and global emissions trajectories, it is the private sector that will be the main engine in the transition to a low-carbon global economy.

In that respect it was very encouraging that 181 investors, collectively responsible for the management of more than $13 trillion in assets globally, launched a statement in New York last week to support a global agreement on climate change. The Leadership Forum for business leaders, which ran alongside the summit, also highlighted a tremendous variety of innovative ideas from within the private sector for the low-carbon transition.

Also in the private sector, Apple became “the latest company to resign from the United States Chamber of Commerce over climate policy” (New York Times), precisely because the chamber opposes EPA rules above. Encouragingly, three large utilities have also resigned from the chamber — Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon.

And one of the most encouraging displays of political will has come from Norway, which “said it may reduce greenhouse- gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, the most ambitious target proposed by a developed nation” according to Bloomberg.

The pledge puts Norway ahead of the 27-nation European Union and Switzerland, which have said they’ll cut emissions by as much as 30 percent by 2020 if a new United Nations treaty to fight global warming is brokered in Copenhagen in December. -Bloomberg

Everything is looking toward Copenhagen in December, which is fraught with considerable challenges. To list all of them would require a scholarly work. Being informed is critical and vital, especially about climate change.

I strongly encourage you to spend concentrated time with the following resources:

  1. Keep track of the COP15 treaty at 350.org.
  2. Find out who’s representing your country at COP15 and what they think at AdoptANegotiator.org.
  3. Petition your representative to support a climate treaty that will reduce carbon emissions at WeCanSolveIt.org.

On the same 60 Minutes broadcast that brought the story of the threatened migration of the wildebeest, another eye-opening story was exposed about coal ash. You probably have never heard of coal ash and may believe electricity is clean. Well, watch the segment.

I physically became depressed after watching those two segments. It was a whole-body sinking. I was depressed for my son, the Earth and humanity.

In matters of such scale we can no longer expect leaders of any stripe to do all the work or even do the right thing. Truth has been concealed, spun and ignored again and again.

We must be personally involved!

In the weeks leading up to December, climate change will be regularly featured on this blog and starting with this post I urge all of you to become engaged in this call to action here with your comments and ideas, in your own lives, and by becoming educated, clicking through to the many resources that will be linked.

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Climate Change: The bogeyman morphs