Archive for December, 2009

Hot Stuff in Copenhagen

December 18, 2009

Today one of the most important meetings in the world is going on in Copenhagen: the Climate Conference, where world leaders are supposed to come up with some sort of deal to prevent a heat death of the biosphere. 

Despite drowning in tons of papers to correct, I’ve been following the news and it is not good.  At last reading there is a stand-off between the rich countries, who are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the poor countries, who are going to suffer the most from global warming.  Bill McKibben has an impassioned piece about this on www.350.org.  Read it: it is a great piece of writing.

Now it turns out that a top secret UN document was leaked in Copenhagen that predicts that with the deals that are now on the table, carbon dioxide levels will rise to 550 ppm, a truly unsustainable level that will cause a temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees F).  For reference the safe upper limit is estimated to be at 350 ppm and we are currently at 387 ppm and rising.  Read about the leaked document.    Bill McKibben comments on this: “In one sense this is no secret—we’ve been saying it for months. But it is powerful to have the UN confirming its own insincerity.”

So what to do?  There seems to be some evidence that public pressure works — so I’ve signed appeals from Avaaz and 350.org and Greenpeace India.  I’m hoping world leaders will stretch their brains a bit beyond the ends of their noses and take the action that needs to be taken. Otherwise — you know what?  The survival of the biosphere is not negotiable.  As the protest banners have said, we don’t have a Planet B.  So if the so-called leaders don’t come forth we’d better have a Plan B.  We are living in a science fiction novel that is turning into an apocalyptic horror story.  Time to brainstorm.

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