Year 2, Month 2, Day 1: Stupidity Rhymes With Cupidity

Ban Ki-moon is going to change his focus to “green economics” in the wake of repeated failures to get the world’s biggest contributors to the greenhouse effect to behave responsibly toward their neighbors.

The Guardian (UK):

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general who made global warming his personal mission, is ending his hands-on involvement with international climate change negotiations, the Guardian has learned.

In a strategic shift, Ban will redirect his efforts from trying to encourage movement in the international climate change negotiations to a broader agenda of promoting clean energy and sustainable development, senior UN officials said.

The officials said the change in focus reflected Ban’s realisation, after his deep involvement with the failed Copenhagen summit in 2009, that world leaders are not prepared to come together in a sweeping agreement on global warming – at least not for the next few years.

My letter to the Guardian:

One can only imagine Ban Ki-moon’s deep disappointment at the failure of the world’s nations to make any meaningful progress on combating climate change over the past several years. The climatological evidence for anthropogenic global warming has accumulated at dizzying rates; scientific consensus on the threat humanity confronts is essentially universal, if you subtract a few petroleum-funded naysayers from the mix. And yet some of the world’s largest countries seem politically paralyzed, unable to do anything in the face of this slow-motion disaster (although there is ample indication that its pace is quickening faster than most experts ever imagined possible).

Perhaps the new focus on “green growth” will succeed where a plea for human survival has failed; perhaps an appeal to our economic motivations will motivate our leaders to do the right thing, albeit for the wrong reasons. And our descendants, if descendants there be, will remember that our generation knew — but chose to ignore.

Warren Senders

Year 1, Month 1, Day 16: The Gray Lady

The New York Times has a length limit of 150 words; I managed to get it down to 149. Tomorrow I’ll be out most of the day making calls for Coakley at a local phonebank. I hate doing it, but it’s not something I feel a lot of choice about. My voice will be wrecked by the evening…with luck I’ll recover before a full day of teaching on Sunday.

Another of the Times’ stipulations is that letters have to explicitly address an issue discussed in a recent article. Fortunately, a few seconds of searching their site found me a recent piece on the possibilities of post-Copenhagen progress on climate, and I framed my letter around that. It was fun getting it trimmed to fit a 150-word maximum; I’ll try again in another week or so.

If you have suggestions for other journals, papers, magazines or forums I can write to, I will be interested in hearing them!

American climate change negotiator Todd Stern’s is cautiously optimistic (“U.S. Official Says Talks on Emissions Show Promise” – John M. Broder, January 14). Unfortunately his caution is more reality-based than his optimism. Stern’s statements are full of conditionals, as witness the end of the first sentence: “…if countries followed through on its provisions.” The dilemma lies, as do so many of our problems, in the Senate, where a significant number of lawmakers have abandoned any notion of crafting policy around scientific consensus, basing it instead on poll numbers or ideological opposition to the current administration. And because our mass media has for years downplayed the threat posed by global climate change, the public has not grasped the terrifying reality of anthropogenic climaticide for what it is: a planetary emergency of unparalleled scale. Our failure to address this crisis with the requisite urgency may be the final failure of our species.

Warren Senders