Monday, December 05, 2005


I am most irked by the “debate” about global warming. How can there be a debate? Are there people who are pro-global warming? Is there anyone besides George Bush who honestly believes global warming is not happening? Is there someone who thinks that they or their children will not be disastrously impacted by global warming?

Global warming is not an issue. It just is. And it may be the last “is.”

It is kind of like the “debate” over evolution except that in the historical scheme of things that debate doesn’t really matter. The anti-evolution crowd can’t really do anything about evolution after all. The crowd that ignores global warming on the other hand will kill us all and will take a myriad of other species down with us.

But what do they care?

For the first time ever a coordinated series of demonstrations took place around the world this weekend to demand action to combat global warming. More than 100,000 people took to the streets in more than thirty countries.

The marches - timed to put pressure on the most important international climate change negotiations since the agreement of the Kyoto Protocol eight years ago - took place against a background of a blizzard of new research showing the heating of the planet is seriously affecting the world sooner than scientists predicted.

Most marchers around the world targeted US President George W. Bush who is not even interested or capable of talking about the global warming in a serious way.

In London, more than 10,000 marched through the streets, carrying banners linking the President and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as "climate criminals".

In Australia thousands marched in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Australia is, with the US, the only Western industrialized nation not to have ratified Kyoto. The Australian Government reacted by reaffirming its refusal to join the protocol, insisting, according to the Environment Minister Ian Campbell, that, "We need to do something that suits the developed world, something that suits the rapidly developing world - partnerships, technologies, economic mechanisms that drive us towards that".

Does he not get that there won’t even be a “developed world” one of these days?

In Montreal, where representatives from around the globe have been meeting on what to do about global warming, the biggest demonstration took place. Demonstrators were led by Inuit from the arctic who were there to draw attention to the melting of the ice in their territory, which is threatening their fishing and livelihoods – their lives. The Inuit were joined by thousands of other Canadians of all stripes. "We will move the world ahead. We will not wait for George W. Bush," Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club, one of many environmental organizations that participated in the rally, told demonstrators. "Together we can save the climate. Together we will stop fossil fuels from destroying our future."

Others marched on the Scottish Parliament. Green MSP Mark Ballard, who addressed the protesters, said: "The eyes of future generations are on Montreal. Across the world, more than 50 protests will make sure that our leaders know that we are watching them too."

In New Orleans - devastated by Hurricane Katrina - residents intended to hold a "Save New Orleans, Stop Global Warming" party in the French Quarter. Residents there said, After two disastrous hurricanes this year, and amid concerns about increasing global warming and its effect on hurricane size and intensity and sea levels, they wanted to send a message. “We are committed to action in addressing our nation’s global warming pollution and encourage our city, state and national leaders to take a stand,” said Micah Walker Parkin, Program Director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy.

Polls taken in the US since Hurricane Katrina have shown double the number of people global warming is an immediate threat. One poll, carried out by the conservative Fox News, found that more than three-quarters of Americans believe global warming is happening and is at least partially caused by human activity, and 60 per cent see it as a "crisis" or a "major problem".

US environmental organizations participating in the Climate Change Summit in Montreal criticized their government’s mistaken policy of refusing ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (itself a halfway measure at most). With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the US produces one-quarter of all greenhouse gasses and, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, at the current rate US emissions will soon climb 30 percent beyond 1990 levels.

US comments that it would resist any binding commitment to curb global warming by capping industrial emissions infuriated environmentalists, who accused Washington of trying to derail the UN Climate Change Conference.

"When you walk around the conference hall here, delegates are saying there are lots of issues on the agenda, but there's only one real problem, and that's the United States," said Bill Hare of Greenpeace International.

However, the US official delegation is led by climate negotitator Harlan Watson – who could care less what average citizens or scientists think. Watson has spent the past week in Montreal touting the administration's record on climate change. He said there is no reason the United States and other countries that oppose mandatory carbon dioxide limits should have to talk about what should be done once the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to cut global greenhouse gases by 7 percent by 2012, expires.

Watson, another of those great Bush appointees, has nothing in his background which would qualify him to issue knowledgeable comments about climate change. Watson earned a B.A. in physics from Western Illinois University, a Ph.D. in solid state physics from Iowa State University, and an M.A. in Economics from Georgetown University.

What he does have, however, is wide support from the oil industry. In fact, Watson may owe his job to ExxonMobil who successfully lobbied the White House to hire him in the first place.

A Feb. 6, 2001, fax sent to the White House by oil giant Exxon Mobil proposed involving Watson more closely in international climate negotiations. The document -- which ExxonMobil spokesman Russ Roberts said was sent by the company but not written by any of its employees -- suggested asking House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to make Watson, who at the time worked for the House Science Committee -- "available to work with the team" of Americans attending international climate change meetings.

ExxonMobil has consistently opposed mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

Activists such as Annie Petsonk, international counsel for Environmental Defense, say they are concerned that the memo means Watson is too closely allied to oil companies to conduct good-faith climate negotiations with foreign countries. "One has to wonder who he's representing -- the U.S. or some of those oil executives who did not testify under oath last month before Congress," Petsonk said.

Whatever the case may be, Watson told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that the Bush administration does not blame global warming or climate change for extreme weather - including the hurricanes that ravaged the Gulf Coast states and much of the Caribbean and Yucatan Peninsula. "There's a difference between climate and extreme weather," Watson said. "Our scientists continually tell us we cannot blame any single extreme event, attribute that to climate change."

This notion infuriates environmentalists, who point to myriad studies that they believe prove global warming is to blame for rising, warmer seas, melting Arctic glaciers and extreme weather conditions.

Phil Thornhill, national co-ordinator for protest organisers the Campaign Against Climate Change says, “Climate change is probably the greatest threat humanity faces. It has consequences of catastrophic proportions.”

He is absolutely correct. Source: New Zealand Herald, CBC, Scottsman, Prensa Laina, US Department of State, AFP, Facing South, Truthout, Grist, Washington Post

No comments: