It isn’t often that I’m allowed free reign to rant. But the other day, Noelle charged me with directing my considerable anger at my ISP towards an environmental story of my choosing. I thought that I might have to work hard to find such a story, but it turns out, that the United States has once again done half my work for me.
As many of you will know, delegates from 140 countries are meeting in Valenica, Spain, not too far from Europe’s worst affected areas of desertification. Their job is to condense 3,000 pages worth of global warming statistics into a report comprehensible by politicians, meeting in Bali in December. As you can imagine, dumbing down such information to the level of a politician is no easy feat.
One would imagine that in a year where we have seen the Northwest Passage of the Arctic Circle disappear during the northern summer, small countries prepare to evacuate due to rising seas, and an increase in Pacific and Indian storms, they would be working together to help the planet.
Or at least, that is what the idealistic aspect of my mind allowed me to think for a few days last week.
What is actually happening is so far from that, that it just baffles my mind. But, sadly, once I remake my thinking to real life, I remember that the world is not as cooperative as I would like to think.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was ranting elsewhere regarding the United States’ opposition to certain wording in the document that would give the G8 summit its cohesion. The G8 draft was harpooned by the United States delegates, who didn’t like the idea of setting targets and timetables for cuts in emissions and increases in energy efficiency in transport and power generation.
“The proposals within the sections titled “Fighting Climate Change” and “Carbon Markets” are fundamentally incompatible with the President’s approach to climate change,” said one of the rejected red-inked paragraphs in the draft.
Well, once again, the “Presidents approach to climate change” is creating havoc in another document.
Setting aside that Bush’s approach to climate change is to stick his head in a hole and hope for the best, the United States is creating roadblocks for the creation of the global warming document being written up in Valencia.
The Associated Press is reporting on these roadblocks that are being thrown up by the US, among other countries. With just one day left to complete the document, groups are working well into the night, in a process that some delegates are calling “agonizingly slow,” adding that sometimes there will be “hours spent over a single word or phrase.”
Now once again, putting aside my unadulterated distaste for those who would quibble over wording, the United States is putting at risk an even more important aspect of the report.
Speaking on anonymity, several of the delegates commented on a section of the draft which is currently undergoing heavy scrutiny. The section looks at highlighting advances in climate research since the last synthesis report compiled in 2001. The section pinpoints five problems that are worse than ever today:
- the risk to unique ecosystems;
- the risks of extreme weather events;
- greater identification of locations at high risk;
- greater certainty that global warming will have more negative impacts than benefits;
- the risk of abrupt and irreversible changes such as the extinction of species.
Sources from within the conference are saying that the U.S. has objections to this part of the document wanting to tone down the document, or eliminate the points altogether. Apparently, they believe that the points have been mentioned elsewhere.
I won’t claim to be a Vulcan in my level of intelligence and logic, but there are some conclusions that can be drawn from these points. Mainly, that the United States is afraid of agreeing to the belief that global warming is manmade. In addition, they are arguing that the points are mentioned elsewhere: but the lack of anyone else making this argument suggests to me that they are only inferred. The United States is attempting to avoid making the document binding.
This is essentially proven in a specific wording that they are attempting to have removed; “Human activities could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate changes and impacts.”
US delegates are arguing that the word “irreversible” was unscientific, and inappropriate in the summary. The simple fact is, if global warming continues any further – and many believe we have already reached this point – that it will be irreversible.
It also looks as if I’m not the only one with such outrage. And though they must keep it clothed in secrecy due to “diplomacy,” the Reuters article touches on something that made me laugh. Apparently some delegates are pointing towards the natural irreversibility of extinction, an effect that is predicted by many scientists and computer models if global warming continues further.
All of this will come to a deadline at 6pm Friday, Valencia local time. Whether the IPCC will meet this deadline, is another matter. But with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon planning to release the document on Saturday, they better hurry.