We should all know by now that weather and climate are two different things. Still in terms of raising awareness in Toronto about the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen it probably doesn't hurt that we had the first November without snow in over 160 years (or 70, it seems to depend who you ask).
The climate crises is of course just that, a crises. For an update check out Copenhagen Diagnosis a report by 26 international researchers, most of who participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report says "Global ice-sheets are melting at an increased rate; Arctic sea-ice is disappearing much faster than recently projected, and future sea-level rise is now expected to be much higher than previously forecast." Don't believe the hype on the hacked emails from some climate scientists which some think reveals some conspiracy (for a response from climate scientists see this). The situation is very, very serious.
And of course because it is so serious people and grassroots organizations are organizing around the world to put pressure on the powers that be in Copenhagen, but it isn't looking good. Obama is going to swing by for one day on his way to get his Nobel Peace Prize , having checked his baggage of 30,000 new troops in Afghanistan for the flight over. He will likely offer up something, something that Canada may just ignore. And if not, it means it is weak. It doesn't seem that a significant agreement is in the cards.
This is why, as the Guardian reported yesterday, leading climate scientist James Hansen is saying that it will be better to get nothing from Copenhagen than some water down agreement that lulls us into false security. He says "It is better to reasses the situation. I think it is just as well that we not have a substantive treaty, if it is going to be a kyoto type thing, and people agree to that, we will spend years trying to determine exactly what that means, what is the commitment, what are the mechanisms? The whole idea that you have goals you are supposed to meet and that you have outs with offsets it is an attempt to continue business as usual. . . . This is analogous to the indulgences the Catholic church sold in the middle ages."
While I think Hansen has a point, it seems to me a weak treaty may still provide a catalyst to push for better practices on a number of fronts. Yes, Kyoto as a treaty did very little but as a metaphor it certainly did something. Communities around the world, people around the world, began to learn more about the climate crises and to act. "Beyond Koyoto" became a rallying cry. Not enough for sure, especially by governments, and Hansen is right that we are playing with fire, but to walk away with nothing leaves nothing to rally around or even against. Even a weak treaty gives us something to push on and who knows, maybe there is a miracle in the making. That said I could see things getting so bad that I end up in the Hansen camp on this (but not on his pro-nuke stance).
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