Year 4, Month 4, Day 5: DiHydrogen Monoxide

The Washington Post runs an AP article on World Water Day, featuring that irresponsible hippie, Ban ki-Moon:

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning that by 2030 nearly half the world’s population could be facing a scarcity of water, with demand outstripping supply by 40 percent.

Ban said one in three people already live in a country with moderate to high water stress. He spoke Friday at a U.N. event marking the opening of the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 and the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of World Water Day.

He said “competition is growing among farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country; upstream and downstream; and across borders.”

With a growing global population and climate change, he said international cooperation is essential to protect water resources.

“Let us use it more intelligently and waste less so all get a fair share,” Ban said.

Shrill, I know. March 23:

As Ban Ki-moon emphasizes, regional populations everywhere are coming under unprecedented environmental pressures. Even as extreme weather events increase, dumping huge quantities of rain or snow on ill-prepared communities, others are discovering that drought, once an unwelcome visitor, is now a permanent resident.

Barring new infrastructural technology that will allow regions buffeted by unseasonal precipitation to save their water and transport it to areas where it’s urgently needed, we can anticipate a profound humanitarian crisis. By delaying and hindering adaptation strategies, the climate-change deniers in our media and politics have ensured a tragedy of unprecedented proportions.

Singing of a “hard rain” in the early 1960s, Bob Dylan referred to nuclear annihilation. Fifty years later, his song’s an eerie prophecy of the burgeoning climate crisis — harkening to the “sound of a thunder, it roared out a warning,” and the “roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.”

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 5, Day 22: You Are Unastonished. I Am Unsurprised.

Sigh. Whocoodanode?:

The largest-ever United Nations conference, a summit billed as a historic opportunity to build a greener future, appears to be going up in smoke.

U.S. President Barack Obama likely won’t be there, and the leaders of Britain and Germany have bowed out. The entire European Parliament delegation has canceled.

And with fewer than six weeks to go until the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, negotiations to produce a final statement have stalled amid squabbling. Logistical snags, too, threaten to derail the event.

Feel that? You’re getting fisted by the invisible hand. Sent May 13:

Even as global climate change brings ever more unpredictable and extreme weather, there’s still something we can count on with near-absolute certainty: as the news from scientists gets steadily worse, so too will the paralysis of our national and global political systems. While hasty geopolitical action is usually ill-advised (as many Iraqis would confirm), the climate crisis demands a far more robust response than platitudes. The United States government can barely even muster tepid affirmations, hamstrung as it is by obstructionist Republicans and their enablers in the mass media.

Cui bono? Any person or organization that stands to benefit from a civilizational disruption of this magnitude would have to be sociopathically focused on short-term returns rather than long-term continuity — oddly enough, an exact description of the corporate “persons” currently bankrolling climate-change denial and undermining any attempts to build an international response commensurate to the magnitude of the emergency.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 18: It’s Cheap, Considering The Alternative

USA Today runs an AP article on Ban Ki-Moon’s statement to the Climate Vulnerable Forum:

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders Monday to finalize the financing for a multibillion-dollar fund to fight the effects of climate change.

Delegates at a U.N.-sponsored climate change conference that starts Nov. 28 in Durban, South Africa, are to consider ways to raise $100 billion a year for the Green Climate Fund created last December to help countries cope with global warming.

Ban told the opening session of a climate meeting in Bangladesh’s capital that the world should make a concerted effort to finance the fund.

Read more about the CVF here. Naturally the only comments on the USA Today website at the time of writing were from wingnuts prating that we should defund the UN, or something. Sheesh.

Sent November 14:

The nations of the Climate Vulnerable Forum are among the world’s least significant contributors to the greenhouse effect — a sad irony, given the fact of their susceptibility to the rising ocean levels and extreme weather events brought in global warming’s wake. It is a further demonstration of the inherent inequity of a globalized consumer economy that the lands and lives of the planet’s poorest citizens are now at profound risk from the activity of the richest.

But while the CVF’s members may be cash-poor, they’re second to none in their moral authority. Countries like Kiribati, Bangladesh and the Maldives are working hard to reduce their own CO2 emissions despite the fact that it is the wealthiest members of the global community who’ve made such a mess of things.

America’s politicians and their corporate masters ignore the simple and obvious principle we all learned as children: clean up after yourself.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 8, Day 20: Nothing To See Here. Move Along, Folks.

The August 3 Chicago Tribune reports on low expectations for the upcoming Durban conference:

WELLINGTON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Major climate talks in South Africa at year-end will be unlikely to strike agreement on a new pact, but will be important in determining the shape of
long-term efforts to tackle climate change, a senior U.N. climate official said on Tuesday.

The future of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing U.N. plan which obliges about 40 industrialised nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions until 2012, is widely seen as under threat. Japan, Canada and Russia have said they will not extend it, while the United States never signed up to it.

La de da de da de da de da….

Sent August 3:

How low our hopes have fallen! The international community is still meeting in Durban to address the complexities of climate change — and while nobody expects anything to actually, you know, happen, the good news is that representatives of the world’s nations will all be there mouthing platitudes at one another. Given that the overwhelming consensus of the scientists who actually know what’s going on with the planet’s climate is that runaway climate change poses a civilizational threat to our species, this diplomatic dithering is a pathetic substitute for the concerted worldwide action that is necessary. Eventually, of course, we’ll learn that they’ve agreed to a template for developing a process to organize a protocol for establishing a framework for beginning negotiations on the elements that need to be included in a new emissions treaty to replace the Kyoto Agreement. And that will be our good news for the day.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 8, Day 9: Insecurity.


NYT, 07/23/11:
UNITED NATIONS — The persistent inability of the United Nations to forge international consensus on climate change issues was on display Wednesday, as Security Council members disagreed over whether they should address possible instability provoked by problems like rising sea levels or competition over water resources.

Western powers like the United States argued that the potential effects of climate change, including the mass migrations of populations, made it a crucial issue in terms of global peace and security. Russia and China, backed by much of the developing world, rejected the notion that the issue even belonged on the Security Council agenda.

Ditherers. Sent July 23:

It is absolutely indisputable that climate change is an international security issue. Every one of the factors currently considered security threats by the world’s nations will be hugely exacerbated by the rapidly warming climate. The planet’s weather patterns are becoming wilder, weirder and more damaging in response to the mounting greenhouse effect. Can there be any doubt that a similar transformation is going to unfold in the geopolitical arena? When nations are threatened with extinction as a consequence of rising sea levels, when vast regions may be depopulated by drought, when increasingly scarce resources will make everyday life all over the world a struggle for survival, the question is not whether global heating belongs on the agenda of the UN Security Council, but whether anything else poses an equal threat to global stability. What is crucial is action, for the Earth’s window of opportunity is closing faster by the day.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 19: Meet The Old Boss, Same As The New Boss

A bland set of paragraphs in the Belfast Telegraph announcing the opening of the Berlin climate talks, on July 3:

Representatives from 35 countries have met in Germany to discuss how to overcome disputes over reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The informal two-day gathering in Berlin is designed to lay the groundwork for an international climate conference in Durban, South Africa, in November.

I used it as the hook for an anti-corporatist screed. Sent July 3:

One wonders what it will take to get the world to stop treating the extreme dangers of runaway climate change as the occasion for political posturing. For example, as the American presidential election approaches, one entire political party has commited itself to an anti-science, anti-reality posture on what is arguably the biggest threat humanity has ever faced. Similar political equations are found throughout the developed world. Perhaps we need to face another horrifying fact that has emerged over the past several decades: many of the world’s governments are essentially owned lock, stock and barrel by multinationals which aren’t going to relinquish any profit whatsoever. Persuading the world’s governments of the urgency of the climate crisis will mean little unless and until the planet’s largest corporations come to their senses and recognize that putting their customers (us) through what biologists euphemistically call an “evolutionary bottleneck” is an awfully stupid business plan.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 3: Painful.

The June 18 issue of the China Daily sounds an alarm:

Christiana Figueres, the official responsible for overseeing United Nations organized climate negotiations in Bonn, has admitted that a gap in enforcing the emission reduction regime is already unavoidable. Even if countries are willing to sign up to new reduction targets in December, they will still require legislative ratifications by governments around the world, which is unlikely to be completed by 2012.

The discrepancy between the stance adopted by developed and developing nations makes reaching an agreement extremely uncertain. While poor nations have put a high priority on renewing the Kyoto Protocol, some industrialized countries, such as Japan and Canada, have voiced a clear intention to walk away and build up a new architecture for global emission cuts, and the United States, the world’s largest economy and carbon polluter, did not ratify the protocol in the first place.

But the time we have to save the planet from the disastrous consequences of global warming is fast ticking away.

I have been thinking long and hard on the nature of our collective insanity these days. Not much fun. It would be nice to have more music.

Sent June 18:

In the year 3000, as humanity continues its fight to recover from the effects of a huge increase in atmospheric carbon a thousand years before, scholars of ancient history will be baffled by the inability of the world’s nations to act in a timely fashion to avert a grave catastrophe. They will look back and wonder, noting that we had ample notice of the consequences of the greenhouse effect; ample time to change our energy infrastructure, keeping millions of years’ worth of fossil carbon in the ground instead of burning it. They will shake their heads in amazement at the failure of our communications systems — at the globe-spanning media that remained focused on trivialities and gossip rather than a civilizational threat requiring concerted action. For all the technological and cultural accomplishments of this time in human history, we will probably be remembered, and reviled, for what we failed to do.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 19: Bad Earth Rising

The Boise Weekly runs a little squib on the UN Climate Change Conference and all the bad news its delegates are confronting:

When delegates from about 180 countries begin meeting tomorrow at a major global energy conference, they’ll be met with a sobering bit of news: The world’s greenhouse gas emissions are hitting record highs and global warming continues to rise.

The new report issued today by the International Energy Agency indicating high fossil fuel emissions is just one of several studies expected to be released this week at the session in Bonn, Germany. This week’s meeting, dubbed a “framework convention,” is in advance of the annual United Nations conference on global warming, which will be held at the end of the year in South Africa.

Yup. Sent June 5:

The world’s industrialized nations have inadvertently set in motion a cascade of climatic events which will affect not only all of humanity, but all forms of life on Earth. The accumulated carbon resources of millions of years are now being burned and reintroduced into the atmosphere with incredible speed; previous “climate change” events tended to take place over spans of millennia — still rapid in geological time, but long enough to allow adaptive evolution a chance. The climatic transformation of the Anthropocene, by contrast, looks like it’s happening in a frame of centuries — the geological equivalent of hitting a wall at 100 mph. The delegates to the U.N. Climate Change Conference have their work cut out for them; they must develop strategies for coping with unprecedented planetary phenomena, while combating a level of ignorance and denialism in the world’s media and political systems that makes effective action essentially impossible. Uh-oh.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 19: Endarkened Self-Interest…?

The Daily Nation (Kenya) runs an editorial calling on the developed world to actually do something about climate change, rather than continually playing political and rhetorical games without following through on anything.

Poor nations are demanding that developed countries agree to a legally binding greenhouse gas reduction commitment under an updated protocol.

They want the speeding up of an earlier deal reached in December, which included a Green Climate Fund to aid poor nations and to limit a rise in average world temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius.

Now some rich nations seem to have turned against such an agreement because China and the US are not part of it.

The US, the world’s biggest polluter, has never signed the Kyoto Protocol.

This standoff is most likely to continue during the climate conference in Durban, South Africa, at the end of the year, with little hope that a binding agreement will be signed.

The frequency and magnitude of climate driven disasters will intensify and can hit any part of the world.

It is time leading economies took decisive action for the long-term interest of the world.

Good luck, guys. You’ll need it. Sent April 10:

The economic and sociopolitical consequences of climate change over the next few decades are going to be severe, no matter what agreements are reached in the upcoming Durban conference. But it is emphatically the case not only that the world’s wealthiest nations are also its greatest contributors to the greenhouse effect — but that they’ve shown a grotesque unwillingness to consider any actions that might actually have a measurable impact on the planet’s future. In the United States, political progress on climate change has been effectively stalled by a group of anti-science, anti-reality demagogues whose electoral success is due to the deep pockets of their Big Oil puppetmasters. Fixated on short-term profit margins, fossil fuel industries don’t care about the future of humanity as long as they can continue to sell their products. This is, of course, the exact opposite of “enlightened self-interest.” It’s unfortunate that we can’t burn irony.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 18: What A Wonderful World

The San Jose Mercury News runs an AP article on the halting, lurching progress of the world’s governments towards some sort of actual, you know, meaningful agreement on climate change:

World stumbles toward climate summit
By DENIS D. GRAY Associated Press

BANGKOK—Nineteen years after the world started to take climate change seriously, delegates from around the globe spent five days talking about what they will talk about at a year-end conference in South Africa. They agreed to talk about their opposing viewpoints.

Delegates from 173 nations did agree that delays in averting global warming merely fast-forward the risk of plunging the world into “catastrophe.” The delegate from Bolivia noted that the international effort, which began with a 1992 U.N. convention, has so far amounted to “throwing water on a forest fire.”

This paper has an anomalous 125-word limit. Sent April 9:

It’s profoundly discouraging. Because the fossil fuel industries regard the threat to their profit margins as more urgent than the threats to human civilization posed by the greenhouse effect, they have successfully used their enormous resources to fund denialism, to sponsor politicians who will propagate a “don’t worry, be happy, keep burning oil” message, and to discredit actual scientific experts on the subject. “Stumbling” is an apt verb; our nation has been rendered almost unconscious by the toxic emissions of Big Oil and Big Coal. As they recover from our century-long carbon bonfire, our descendants will too busy struggling to survive on a newly hostile planet to do more than curse our memories. But curse us they will, unless we find the resolve to act.

Warren Senders