Global environmental challenges
The issues are global and urgent, but the bureaucracy can sometimes be mind-bogglingly slow and petty.
After a day of stalled talks, the 193 nations at UN-led climate talks finally met for a plenary to discuss one of the main drafts floating around the summit, just two days (and two hours) from the deadline for a deal.
First on the agenda – auxiliary verbs. There was a discussion of should vs shall, before an appeal from the chair.
“I would ask you to consider the most scarce resource in this room – sleep”
Today we pose the question to our virtual panel of experts, “How far can we trust the science of climate change?”
Join the debate and leave your comments below.
Bjorn Lomborg, statistician and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist”:
The vast majority of climate scientists tell us that increases in carbon dioxide cause higher temperatures over time. We know that this will mean changes in rainfall, melting of snow and ice, a rise in sea level, and other impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans.
(Updates with comments from Knut Alfsen of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo (CICERO))
Today’s expert panel discusses the question, “What can ordinary people do to slow climate change?”
from The Great Debate:
- Dr. Fred Singer is the President of The Science & Environmental Policy Project and Professor Emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. The views expressed are his own -
The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) charter states that the organization’s purpose is to look for human induced climate change. The Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) does not have this problem. If we find support for human induced climate change, we say so. If we do not find support for human induced climate change, we say so. In fact, the first NIPCC report, of which I was a lead author, was called 'Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate'.
(Updates with comments from Raymond Pierrehumbert, Knut Alfsen and Kim Carstensen)
The world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases by geographical boundaries is China. A close second is the United States. Between the two great powers, they account for 40 percent of all carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.
There’s no concierge, no bellboy nor even a check-in counter. There’s no lobby, nor mini-bar and not even any heating. But despite the lack of amenities there was still something special about sleeping alongside 2,000 other climate change activists in an empty warehouse in an industrial section of northwest Copenhagen last night.
It’s cold, loud and dusty. But the price is unbeatable and so is the atmosphere. You could say they were all happy campers.
– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —
Current debates about cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions often carry a strong undercurrent of asceticism.
There is an almost missionary zeal to save the planet by reverting to a simpler and more satisfying past when energy consumption was lower (or at least encourage other people to make necessary sacrifices).
from The Great Debate:
-- Aron Cramer is the president and CEO of BSR, a global business network and consultancy focused on sustainability. He is also coauthor of the forthcoming book Sustainable Excellence (Rodale 2010). The views expressed are his own. --
(Updated on December 17th to correct figure in McKinsey study in paragraph 7.)
As world leaders seem uncertain about whether a binding treaty is even possible at Copenhagen, it’s important to remember what was already clear: Twelve days in Copenhagen were never going to solve climate change anyway.
Well into the first week of the U.N. Conference on Climate Change, the haves and have nots of the world are still divided over who should pay for the cleanup of the planet. Poor countries want rich countries to cough up more ambitious goals for emissions cuts and developing technologies.