Monday, December 07, 2009

Copenhagen, Climategate and the Meaning of Life

So they have gathered today in Copenhagen. Three thousand or so people from all the nations in the world have gathered at this lovely Danish City. The purpose is to bring about a clinate change treaty that will keep us from destroying our planet. By the way I went to the homepage and the site can house 15,000 delegates. That's a lot of officials, semi-officals, media hacks, flacks, bloggers, cranks, cynics, supporters, troublemakers, hangers on and all the sort that gather at these conferences.

This is not to say it's already a failure, in fact it has opened with a great deal of optimism. The welcome speech from the Danish Prime Minister declared:
The UN climate change conference opened Monday in an atmosphere of hope for a deal in Copenhagen within the next two weeks.

“A deal is within our reach,” the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said in his opening speech, stressing that the talks will have to overcome deep distrust between rich and poor nations on how to share the burden of curbing emissions.

The presence of more than a hundred world leaders meant “an opportunity the world cannot afford to miss,” Lars Løkke Rasmussen said.

The purpose of all this is to deal with the issue of global warming and the levels of CO2 emissions that are viewed as the direct cause of climate change and global warming. This is articulated in the Committment Seciont of the UN Framework Commission on Climate Change:
Develop, periodically update, publish and make available to the Conference of
the Parties, in accordance with Article 12, national inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol,using comparable methodologies to be agreed upon by the Conference of the Parties;
(b) Formulate, implement, publish and regularly update national and, where
appropriate, regional programmes containing measures to mitigate climate change by
addressing anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, and measures to facilitate adequate adaptation to climate change;
(c) Promote and cooperate in the development, application and diffusion,
including transfer, of technologies, practices and processes that control, reduce or prevent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol in all relevant sectors, including the energy, transport, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management sectors;
(d) Promote sustainable management, and promote and cooperate in the conservation
and enhancement, as appropriate, of sinks and reservoirs of all greenhouse gases not controlledby the Montreal Protocol, including biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial,coastal and marine ecosystems;

In other words, it is by the use and in particular the burning of fossil fuels that has increased the level of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and thus raised the overall temperature of the planet. This is seen in the increase of storms, the moving north and south of deserts, of the disappearance of ice, in particular at the Arctic, where more open water is being observed and the fact it is getting later in year for it to ice over. There are shifts in migration of animals and the potential for flooding.

This led to the Kyoto Protocol which was the first great attempt to articulate and spell out exactly what the Convention meant in terms of decreasing CO2 emissions. The onus was to be paid by the developed world, since we were the ones pumping that stuff out. The developing world was to be basically left out, I know that is a gross simplification. Then again, we've been told how difficult it must be, so we reject the thought we can do anything about it.

Still, there are now websites, songs and videos calling for change:

This site in question deals with climate justice, which is defined as:
‘Climate Justice’ is urgently needed by today’s and tomorrow’s victims of climate change. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries die because of climate change-related crises. Environmental disasters cost governments billions, so people suffer even more as economies are hit. Climate Justice is needed by those whose communities and economies are ruined by abnormal and increasing tropical storms, floods, droughts and crop failures. Climate Justice is needed by the world’s children, because it is they who will face greater catastrophes tomorrow if something isn't done soon.

Another group calls itself The title comes from what is believed to be the upper limits of safe and acceptable CO2 presence in our atmosphere. That's parts per million, by the way. For most of history, the website declares, the level was at 276, now it's 387, which is in the unacceptable range. Listen the belief is not necessarily we'll wipe out human life along with everything else on the planet, it's just going to be very bad for a very long time unless we get our act together.

Join me at <a" width="480" height="60" border="0" />

Copenhagen may represent an effort that will finally make a difference. What is needed is honesty and transparency by all members. I want to say, forget carbon credits, which is a mugs game, and say, let's honestly reduce CO2 emissions. I know there is concern that if we do get off the diet of fossil fuels it will end our comfortable lifestyles. But it might also foster new technologies and unleash new creative energies that will make a difference for the planet and for all members. Right now, the West has enjoyed the lions share when it comes to the benefits of carbon based lifestyle- the next lifestyle will need to include the underdeveloped and developing world.

I was going to say something about climategate, let's leave that for later.