Monday, December 28, 2009

Climate change is the most serious problem facing the world today. From the beginning of the human race until about 100 years ago CO2 levels hovered around 280 parts per million (PMM) but since then CO2 has increased by 107 PPM to the current 387 PPM level and it increases by 2 PPM each year from burning fossil fuels to produce energy. Scientist’s observe 70 million tons of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere every 24 hours from smoke stacks and tail pipes.
The most obvious sign of climate change is melting glaciers. Over 30 glaciers in 9 mountain ranges around the world are melting rapidly. Some areas are inundated with too much water while others wither from extreme droughts. Bigger and more frequent storms ravage some areas while wild fires singe others.
The relationship between climate change and CO2 is no new concept. Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist discovered the connection in 1896. As scientists observed the increasing magnitude of impacts on glaciers, permafrost melting in the arctic, ice-shelf deterioration in Antarctica, the northern migration of diseases like malaria, and the depletion of water supplies the urgency of doing something about it became obvious.
Let’s bag the history lesson and cut to the chase. Because of the urgency and magnitude of global climate change, many scientists and countries around the globe looked at the COP-15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen as the do-or-die summit to get a meaningful commitment to cut CO2 to at least 350 PPM to avert catastrophe.
Island countries like the Maldives are frightened about sea level rise and want immediate action while poor third-world countries strongly protest what they see as an “outrageous attempts by rich countries to kill the previous Kyoto climate summit targets in Copenhagen.”
Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed up and delivered a slam-dunk take-it-or-leave-it proposal to provide $100-billion to developing countries by 2020 as long as they agree with U.S. terms which included killing the Kyoto agreement, ditching legally binding measures for a vague concept of “transparency,” and eliminating universal emissions targets for vague “national plans”, and completely dropped a plan that the U.S. signed with the UN climate convention agreeing that rich countries that emitted the most CO2 take the lead in cutting it.
Alright, when I look at the famous photo of the beautiful blue earth taken from Apollo 17 in 1972, I can strain my eyes but I can’t find a political boundary on it. Regardless of our race or origin, we are of this Earth and we have nowhere else to go. We have got to quit spending trillions of dollars on killing ourselves in wars and spend it on lowering CO2 levels to at least 350 PPM as fast as possible or civilization simply will cease to exist – pure and simple. If we can invest trillions in war why can’t we divert that to cutting CO2? The bottom line is, if the earth goes into climate upheaval, and that’s where we’re headed, there won’t be an economy.
To try to drive that point home, on December 12th around 100,000 citizens from around the world staged a 5 Km demonstration march in Copenhagen from the Parliament Building to the Bella Center where COP 15 was held. The overwhelming message was to stop bickering over money, work together and get on the fast track to lower carbon emissions. Younger generations feel their future is being short-sheeted by the older generations who now control industry and the government. They recognize that as long as older generations profit from doing business as usual, they don’t give a hoot about future generations.
The prevailing mind-set at the demonstration was that if COP 15 failed - which it did – it is the younger generation’s obligation and moral right to take matters into their own hands by any means necessary - be it through radical and violent methods - to wrestle the control they must have to assure them a survivable future. Brace yourself world, a new reality is coming.
669 words © 2009 Richard Whiteford