This is the Final Call for Saving Our Planet
This is the Final Call for Saving Our Planet
by Marianne Leigh, citizen journalist
(NaturalNews) Scientists and climate experts have been sounding the alarm on global warming for more than a decade with little result. The vast majority of people have simply rolled their eyes at predictions of widespread doom and gone about their business. But lately, a growing number are disturbed by the frequency and scale of natural catastrophes taking place. And the tide is beginning to shift towards taking predictions about global warming seriously. Today however, more than a decade later, the fear is no longer that this change might take place, but rather that it is already happening – at a faster rate than predicted. And it might already be irreversible.
It would be impossible to ignore the changes taking place around us. In recent years our news has been saturated with unprecedented levels of catastrophe, destruction and death. In fact, the number of natural disasters worldwide has quadrupled in the past two decades. And while some want to dicker over the exact cause of the seismic disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis) signs are everywhere that the predicted changes are coming to pass. From Hurricanes Katrina and Ike in 2005 and the shocking heat wave that struck Europe in 2003, to widespread flooding, severe droughts and wildfires, it’s clear enough that our planet is in revolt.
Recently compiled geological and oceanographic data confirms that the situation is deteriorating at an accelerated rate. The sea is warming and its level rising; the polar ice caps and glaciers are disappearing. And even as our predictions become reality, new unlooked for factors keep appearing which make former worst-case scenarios seem mild.
All hope for positive climate change is now pinned on a much-anticipated international summit to be held in Copenhagen in December of this year. Like the famous Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012, the UN-led meeting in Copenhagen will attempt to draft a new treaty. This new treaty must define and govern international efforts to halt the current increase in greenhouse gas levels and initiate their decline within 10 to 15 years.
Climate experts warn us that reaching a substantial global consensus is the world’s last chance to avoid irreversible climate change and widespread catastrophe. And if that unsettles you, know that some British experts are already saying that it’s too late; there’s not enough time to make the massive changes necessary. What is certain, in any case, is that while swift action is desperately needed, it’s far from assured.
After a key preparatory meeting in Poznan last December, the feedback from attendees was mixed. Many feigned optimism, but the true feeling seemed to be that finding an accord in Copenhagen, though possible, was going to be difficult. And much will hinge on the level of engagement of the new American administration. Will the United States find the courage to lead unselfishly and with a true global consciousness?
Stavros Dimas, the European Union Environment Commissioner, was categorical, saying significant sacrifices will have to be made on the part of more developed nations in order to ease the transition for less developed and emerging economies. Leaders of developed nations will have to be willing to reduce their emissions by 80 to 90%, and invest heavily in clean alternative energy solutions, while providing economic incentives to facilitate the compliance of more fragile economies. “If there is no money on the table,” he said, “there will be no deal.”
On a somewhat positive note, international polls show world consensus that global warming is a serious threat and needs to be addressed. In fact, support for action has never been higher, particularly in the United States. So it is possible to have faith that because of the urgency of the hour and the overwhelming support, an agreement will surely be reached. But when president Bush, representing the country responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions (for only 4% of it’s population), refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol because of the financial strain it threatened to put on the oil and coal industries, the world was blindsided. And while other countries respected their engagements, the achievements of the protocol were greatly lessened by the abstention of the United States. It would seem then that, despite the pressing need, national leaders are still capable of ignoring obvious crises because of short-term or short-sighted goals.
And so the question remains, “What can we do besides wait and hope for the best?”
For starters, practicing daily energy conservation is the single most important step an individual can take to curb global carbon dioxide emissions. Reflect on the fact that we rely entirely too much on cooling or super-heating our interiors when simply putting on a sweater in the winter or shutting off lights and closing blinds in the summer would decrease the need. Houses similarly can be made more energy efficient by carefully choosing appliances with Energy Star ratings and insulating or replacing aging parts.
On a more public level, it is important that legislators and government officials feel sufficiently pressured to enact environmentally protective laws and allocate funds to develop non-polluting renewable energy solutions. Local activism and letter writing are ways to achieve this. And a clear message needs to be sent to businesses that you value responsibility and will only buy from those that invest in environmental protection. Corporate complacency, putting short-term profits ahead of all other considerations, is, after all, the main reason our industries are so inefficient and polluting.
So, even as we countdown to one of the most pivotal international summits of our time, consider the changes that can begin in your own homes and communities. It’s possibly the best shot you have at a stable future.
For more information on the Countdown to Copenhagen, please visit the UNFCCC’s website: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
World Faces Last Chance to Avoid Fatal Warming: EU (Reuters, Feb. 27, 2009, Gergely Szakacs)
Huge Year for Natural Disasters (BBC News, published Dec. 29, 2008)
Through the Climate Window (BBC News, published Feb. 2, 2007, Richard Black)
At a Glance: IPCC REPORT (BBC News, published Feb. 2, 2007)
Too Late? Why Scientists Say We Should Expect the Worst (The Guardian, Dec. 9, 2008, David Adam)
Mood Mixed as Climate Summit Ends (BBC News, published Dec. 13, 2008, Richard Black)
30-Country Poll Finds Worldwide Consensus that Climate Change is a Serious Problem (W.P.O.) http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/p…
Global Warming Basics (NRDC, last revised Oct. 18, 2005)