Wednesday Night #1451

Written by  //  December 23, 2009  //  Cleo Paskal, Climate Change, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

 

The outcome of the Copenhagen conference, although disappointing, was certainly predictable.  To be valid and enforceable,UN treaties must be agreed, not by a democratic majority but by all participating parties.  When, as in this case, there were one hundred and ninety-two participating countries of varying affluence, maturity and political orientation, universal agreement would have been about as probable as the proposal of a universal religion.
China and the U.S., the greatest producers of carbon emissions could not be expected to support the agreement.  Although China is said to be a major culprit in the escalation of greenhouse gasses, it is the United States that is the major consumer of Chinese exports whose production is responsible for much of the CO² produced.  Rather than a carbon tax, other solutions such as the planting of trees might be considered, but that, too, is expensive in terms of actual land use cost .

In some ways, the concentration on carbon emissions as the central focus of the negotiations was an error. Carbon emissions have become the prime culprit for many to the point of  religious fervor, however,  although the reduction of carbon emissions is important, climate change has a symbiotic relationship with other  environmental change factors, such as  depleted agricultural lands,  water scarcity, population and  consumption increases to create widespread disruptions to stability.
it is not certain what the cost of reduction would be, the extent to which it will mitigate or reduce global warming, or what other measures might be required.

There are some proponents of the theory that global warming is cyclical and the imminent eruption of the Mayon Volcano will, in fact, ultimately result in the cooling of the planet.  Whatever truth is valid, it is incumbent on this generation of humans to stop robbing our descendents of the carbon deposits that have been built up since the beginning of life on our planet without replacement by the planting of seeds and/or the use of other forms of energy than that that stored in hydrocarbons, said to be have been mostly initiated by the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Unfortunately, climate degradation will likely be remedied only when it is economically viable for it to be remedied.  As long as it is less expensive to attempt to fix the problem than to eliminate it, that is the direction that we will continue to pursue.  Logically, a carbon tax would solve the issue, but its imposition would ruin the economies of developing countries including India and China both of which, in the absence of any form of world governance, would resist any measures to ensure verification and enforcement.

The immense population of India, the current relationship with China and especially, its possession of nuclear weapons, renders it virtually immune from the imposition of international measures.

As for Copenhagen, problems with visas and travel expenses involved prevented many underdeveloped countries from sending delegates, resulting in over eighty percent of delegates coming from the developed world.  Perhaps a G-20 treaty representing over fifty percent of the population might be a start, but any agreement between them would only represent the beginning of a solution to an acute problem whose definition, cause and effect have yet to be fully determined.

COME CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS, HANNUKKAH, AND/OR OTHER SEASONAL FETES OF YOUR CHOICE, BUT ESPECIALLY THE WINTER SOLSTICE -FROM NOW ON, THE DAYS WILL BE GROWING LONGER – AT LEAST, THERE WILL BE TINY INCREMENTS OF DAYLIGHT LEADING UP TO THE GLORIOUS LONG EVENINGS OF SPRING.

WHILE SOME OF YOU TAKE FLIGHT TO WARMER CLIMES, OTHERS ARE RETURNING HOME FOR THE FESTIVITIES, AND WE ARE PARTICULARLY DELIGHTED THAT CLEO PASKAL AND JENS CHRISTIAN JUSTINUSSEN WILL BE BACK FROM COPENHAGEN WITH MUCH TO SAY ABOUT THE EVENTS OF THE PAST TWO WEEKS (SEE CLIMATE CHANGE AND SECURITY FOR A PREVIEW OF CLEO’S VIEWS). FELIX, IF NOT TOO JET-LAGGED ALSO PLANS TO BE WITH US.

ONE ASPECT OF THE RESULTS OF THE COPENHAGEN MEETINGS THAT WE LOOK FORWARD TO EXAMINING WITH KIMON AND OUR EXPERTS IS THE MAJOR SHIFT IN GEOPOLITICS AS EVIDENCED BY THE RIFT BETWEEN DEVELOPED AND POOR COUNTRIES, AND THE POWER STRUGGLE BETWEEN CHINA AND THE U.S.

RICHARD BLACK OF THE BBC ASKS: Does Copenhagen, then, mark not the beginning of a new global climate regime but the end of the vision of global, negotiated climate governance? Is it the end for the idea of global, negotiated governance on other environmental issues?
WE LOOK FORWARD TO KIMON’S THOUGHTS – AND YOURS TOO.
MEANWHILE THE FINANCIAL TIMES PRESENTS
ANOTHER SLANT ON THE PROCESS CLAIMING THAT Global energy businesses are disappointed and confused by the climate deal agreed in Copenhagen, saying it does not provide enough certainty to justify the huge investments needed to cut carbon.

ALTHOUGH WE – AND THE MEDIA – HAVE BEEN PREOCCUPIED WITH EVENTS IN COPENHAGEN, THE WORLD HAS NOT STOOD STILL. DESPITE THE HUGE WASHINGTON SNOWSTORM, THE U.S. SENATE SEEMS TO HAVE REACHED A DEAL ON HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION,- HOW THE HOUSE WILL REACT IS A BIG QUESTION.

IRAN IS, IT SEEMS, ALWAYS WITH US – RECENT CONCERNS RANGE FROM A DUST-UP OVER OCCUPATION OF AN IRAQI OIL FIELD TO THE POTENTIAL REPERCUSSIONS FROM THE DEATH OF Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri , AND OF COURSE THE RECENT LAUNCH OF THE Sejil-2 MISSILE

A NUCLEAR-RELATED ITEM YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: UN nuclear watchdog chief holds talks in NigeriaSHOULD WE BE ALARMED, GIVEN NIGERIA’S LESS-THAN-STERLING REPUTATION FOR LAW AND ORDER ?

AND WHILE ON THE TOPIC OF LAW AND ORDER, THERE’S THE SORRY TALE REPORTED BY THE BBC: A group of suspected Somali pirates detained on a Dutch warship has been released because no country has agreed to prosecute them. AS ONE WEDNESDAY NIGHTER COMMENTS: WHERE ARE DECATUR AND DRAKE WHEN WE NEED THEM?

ALTHOUGH THERE IS MUCH, MUCH MORE, WE CONCLUDE BY POINTING YOU TO AN INTRIGUING PIECE, When China Rules the World. China will soon become “the most powerful and influential country in the world,” says celebrated journalist Martin Jacques. It is predicted that by 2050, China’s economy will be twice that of the United States. What will Beijing do with all that power and influence?

ALONG WITH FOOD FOR THE MIND, NEED WE REMIND YOU THAT RECENT TRADITION DICTATES THAT THE LAST WEDNESDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS IS THE OCCASION FOR CATHERINE GILLBERT’S EXCEPTIONAL MINCE-PIE TREAT?

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