Rising global temperatures that are melting the Arctic and expanding the oceans are now drawing more than 80 world leaders to the U.N. podium for an unprecedented summit Monday on how to combat climate change.
From California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a champion of climate-saving legislation, the presidents and premiers will hear that even an often-reluctant United States is pitching in.
“California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action,” he says in remarks prepared for the meeting’s morning kickoff.
Fellow opening speaker Rajendra Pachauri, chief U.N. climate scientist, says there’s now “much greater evidence of human influence on climate change,” and therefore “it’s time for action.”
The one-day meeting, with more than 150 nations participating, also was scheduled to hear from such international figures as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, and from former U.S. vice president and climate campaigner Al Gore.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon organized the summit to build political momentum toward launching negotiations later this year for deep cutbacks in emissions of carbon dioxide and other manmade gases blamed for global warming.
President Bush, who has long opposed such negotiated limits on “greenhouse gases,” wasn’t participating in the day’s meetings but was to attend a small dinner this evening, a gathering of key players hosted by Ban. Bush will host a two-day climate meeting in Washington this week.
Rather than accept treaty obligations, Bush has urged industry to cut emissions voluntarily, and emphasizes research on clean-energy technology as one answer. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, leading the U.S. delegation, will address a technology session at today’s conference.
While the Republican U.S. administration has resisted emissions caps, California’s Republican governor and Democrat-led legislature last year approved a law requiring the state’s industries to reduce greenhouse gases by an estimated 25 percent by 2020. Other U.S. states, in various ways, are moving to follow California’s lead.
This first-ever U.N. climate summit looks ahead to December’s annual climate treaty conference in Bali, Indonesia, when the Europeans, Japanese and others hope to initiate talks for an emissions-reduction agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
The 1997 Kyoto pact, which the U.S. rejects, requires 36 industrial nations to reduce heat-trapping gases emitted by power plants and other industrial, agricultural and transportation sources by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Advocates say a breakthrough is needed at Bali — almost certainly requiring a change in the U.S. position — to ensure an uninterrupted transition from Kyoto to a new, deeper-cutting regime.
To try to spur global negotiations, the European Union has committed to reduce emissions by at least an additional 20 percent by 2020.
Bush has objected that Kyoto-style mandates would damage the U.S. economy, and says they should have been imposed on fast-growing poorer countries, such as China and India, as well as on developed nations.
On Thursday and Friday, Bush will host his own two-day climate meeting, limited to 16 “major emitter” countries. It’s the first in a series of such U.S.-sponsored climate gatherings.
Many environmentalists fear this separate U.S. “track,” which will involve China and India, may undercut the global U.N. negotiating process. But some hope it eventually helps draw those two big developing nations and others into a new, U.N.-negotiated emissions regime.
The U.N. summit follows a series of reports by Pachauri’s U.N. scientific network that warned of temperatures rising by several degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 and of a drastically changed planet from rising seas, drought and other factors, unless nations rein in greenhouse gases.
The U.N.-sponsored scientists reported global average temperatures over the past 100 years rose 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and the planet’s sea levels rose 6.6 inches, as oceans expanded from warmth and from the runoff of melting land ice.
Just last week, U.S. scientists reported that warmer temperatures this summer had shrunk the Arctic Ocean’s ice cap to a record-low size.
Well folks, here’s the good news. President Bush is going to get another reminder that while he refuses to accept and therefore seriously address our the increasing overall temperature of our Earth, the rest of the world is trying very hard to combat it. The bad news is one of the potential frontrunners in the battle, the United States of America, is once again looking like it doesn’t give a shit to the rest of humanity. No wonder so many other nations despise us.
Why should he really care, realistically? His family’s got so much money invested in oil – the very same money that purchased his seat as president – that doing something to lower the rate at which the US uses it would be almost sacrilegious. He’s probably just going to be assassinated long before any real adverse effects of neglecting this problem strike him, so what’s all this “liberal hearsay” about the ice caps melting matter to him? Greenhouse gases making the world warmer … nonsense to ’ol G.W. We’ve got terrorists to worry about these days – an immediate danger which could affect him personally – so what’s the sense in wasting any time on something that’s going to take at least 50 years to cause any real harm?
OK, so he doesn’t completely discount the problem. His advisers have explained to him using picture books and interactive TV programs that global warming is really happening, emissions particularly from automobiles are speeding up the process, and the ocean levels are definitely rising. Consequently, he’s made an agenda of his own, kind of. He introduced a “long-term global goal” and persuaded countries to agree to invest more in research on alternative energy sources and lower trade tariffs for products that reduce emissions. IN the US, he says, it’s important that taking action to fight global warming is done strictly voluntarily.
The problem is that we don’t have time for anything that takes a long term. This is especially disheartening since there’s a solution that’s really quite short-term: don’t consume so much. Reduce. That’s what the other countries discuss when they take on the issue with global warming … taking real action by mandating their citizens reduce in some way or another. Japan, France, Italy, and even China have laws which outlaw private citizens’ use of automobiles that don’t get good gas mileage. Japan says cars must get 45 miles per gallon and “the real danger to society” China’s at 35. In London, people have to pay more taxes to drive gas guzzlers in the city. Could you imagine what Americans would do if such regulations were instilled? That, my friends, is exactly why doing “voluntary” things isn’t good enough … we are too set in our ways here and consider anything that alters or inhibits “The American Dream” we came up with after WWII to be anti-American.
Taking measures to ensure the Earth is going to be a place where future generations can thrive has long been dubbed a value of the Democratic party here in the US. Therefore, the Republicans don’t want anything to do with it. Many of them pair it with Al Gore, the “liberal, homosexual-supporting” vice president of the “liberal, homosexual-supporting but also womanizing” Bill Clinton. We all know what heathen practices those two instilled while their tandemship controlled our nation (I read in the Bible that they ate children) … wholesome, value-minded Republicans of the present day refuse to do anything they say. I know a few of them who have taken stands against recycling, litter out of spite, and drive huge trucks just because it would be supporting “the other guys” if they did anything but. Sure, this isn’t every Republican, but there is one thing I would definitely bet on: there aren’t any Democrats who want to help our planet just to get back at the Republicans.
I have to wonder if this doesn’t have a little bit to do with why Bush is so dead-set on not fighting global warming. That and the fact his family acquired its vast financial riches from oil … doing anything to make people not use to much is just silly to him. But wait – what about his encouragement of other countries to research alternative fuel sources? Doesn’t that say he’s trying?
Quite simply, no. It means he’s just appeasing his political opponents, the Democrats, who he now finds himself surrounded by. Alternative fuel sources, like coal and nickel mining and ethanol, all have their downsides. Each would destroy the Earth, just in another fashion. Besides that, what’s with having other countries take care of it? Shouldn’t we spearhead the search, since we would be the ones who’d use the most? Um sorry, we can‘t do that here … we’ve got a war to fight in Iraq right now, but leave us a message and we’ll call you back.
All I want you guys out there to see is that we’ve got a president who proves again and again that his priorities are all out of whack. He goes about things the completely wrong way. He’s only interested in wars involving guns and explosives and bright lights and missiles while the real war – the one fought with moderation and self-control by the American public – continues to threaten our very livelihood.