“And exactly WHY does it matter to me??”
From December 7-18 this year in Copenhagen, Denmark, leaders from around the world, including the US – we hope – will meet to take the “next steps” on controlling and reducing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Remember it is those emissions that are the main causes of global warming and climate change (see Climate Change 101 on the Climate Mama website for background). Have you heard rumblings about this meeting; is it on your radar screen? The two big questions you might be asking yourself…” who really cares and how does it really affect me?” Doesn’t it just sound like an opportunity for a bunch of politicians to get together to hear each other talk? Let me tell you, I’ve been there, done that. I attended many of these big United Nations (UN) events, including most of the meetings leading up to the first UN “Earth Summit” in 1992 as well as countless UN General Assemblies where I was privileged to listen to 100’s of heads of state, talk and talk and talk, and then talk some more! At that time I didn’t really appreciate all the “talk” and too many times it seemed to me that the speech given was generated only for the purpose of creating a local media “sound bit.” I often wasn’t sure what, if any greater good was accomplished. So why as a parent, should this particular UN meeting in December be important to me or to you? What I have come to realize is that often sound bits are important, as they allow you and me to hold our elected officials accountable for what they say they are going to do, so that we “the public” can make sure that our elected officials really do what they commit themselves to do. In this case we need to listen carefully as our children’s futures are at risk.
This meeting is incredibly important, in large part because this is the one and only place where all those leaders are coming together to talk and take decisions specifically on slowing down the pace of global warming and climate change. This is where there will be “sound bits’. The jumping off point for this, and I am taking a big leap here and assuming you are on the same page, is that we are at an unprecedented period in the history of humankind, and in all likelihood in the history of our planet, as it relates to climate change. Sounds dramatic, but it needs to, because it is. Science is showing us that we human beings, through our thoughtless emissions of greenhouse gases are causing our planet to heat up, at an unsustainable pace with unclear, but potentially and very likely, disastrous consequenses. Each year, the data, the depth of peer reviewed studies and the evidence from our natural world around us, is given us undisputable proof that we human beings have changed the delicate balance that keeps our planet in check, our ecosystems in place and that maintains our planet as a hospitable host for a wide range of species, including our own. Some how, this message from scientists around the world isn’t resonating loudly enough with all of us!
The UN negotiations have been and continue to be the only “game in town”. One hundred and eighty-four countries, including every major industrialized country (except the US) ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the precursor to the Copenhagen talks. The Kyoto Protocol was the first time ever that developed countries agreed to curb their greenhouse gas emissions, this Protocol however, is set to expire in 2012. Governments don’t just agree on things and sign on the dotted line. It takes years of negotiation to reach a point where they will sign off on an international agreement. Copenhagen has been years in the making. It is important as it takes Kyoto a big step further, as both developed and developing countries (including big emitters like China and India) will be agreeing (we hope) to reduce and control carbon dioxide and other dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.
In the US we need to act now, before Copenhagen so we can be part of the solution; we don’t have a lot of time. We in the US account for only 5% of the world’s population but over 25% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions. We in the US are causing climate change problems to spring up all around the world, not just here at home. Whether our government likes to admit it or not, we need to act, not only for ourselves, but also for the rest of the world. We need to be leaders on this, we need to show that we can change our ways so the rest of the world will get on board. We need to show our children that we aren’t asleep at the wheel, we are awake, on the job and moving forward.
Something to think about. Do you think we in the US can get our act together and be ready to sign on to Copenhagen? Can the world figure out how to lower our emissions or is it just too late? Do you think we have a chance??
P.S. We will keep you posted on developments as Copenhagen draws nearer and as the US and in particular the US Senate begins discussing the Climate Change bill that was approved by Congress earlier this summer. Lets hope we aren’t to late and we are able to make the right choices for us and for our planet. FYI, there are many political and scientific circles that are beginning to seriously consider some of the more ‘far out there” options for slowing down climate change, like “seeding our upper atmosphere” to create clouds to reflect the sun’s radiation back up into space and away from the earth. Who knows what the impact of reducing the amount of light from the sun would have on things like food production and our local weather. Making New York or Toronto feel more like London, Seattle or Vancouver are options being considered and debated in serious scientific circles. No lie! Scientists aren’t being heard; it’s not clear who’s fault that is, as the information on human caused global warming is being shouted from the “scientific rafters” all around the world. The pessimistic crowd is beginning to think that we humans probably don’t have it in us to change our bad “consumption” habits! And in the short term, we may need to do something drastic! Can we show these pessimists that they are wrong, what do you think?
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