Year 2, Month 12, Day 21: One Good Letter Deserves Another

The Malaysia Star runs an opinion piece by Guenter Gruber, the German Ambassador:

Changes in the climate destroy the basis on which human life subsists; drought, for instance, leads to shortages in food and water. Rising sea levels are already threatening the territories of small island states and vast stretches of coastland.

Weather patterns are changing. In Thailand, we have just seen severe flooding. Last year, the south of Malaysia was unusually dry. Now, 40% more rainfall than usual is expected.

Climate change is the definitive challenge of the 21st century. However, the international community has to admit that it has not, as things stand, stepped up to this challenge.

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions went up again in 2010, global temperatures are already 0.8°C higher than before industrialisation, and sea levels rose twice as fast between 1993 and 2003 as they did in the preceding decade; icebergs and glaciers are melting at record speeds.

It’s a generic piece, and it gets a generic letter. Sent December 17:

There is no doubt: the climate crisis is not only the gravest threat our species has yet faced, but one which our existing political and economic systems cannot address competently. Just look at the parlous state of American politics, in which oil industry influence permeates the system to such an extent that one of the country’s two dominant political parties is reaping electoral rewards for a complete denial of scientific reality. Similarly, Canada ignores the danger posed to its own Arctic territories by pulling out of the Kyoto treaty and fostering climate-change denial in its own government.

Ultimately, of course, the laws of physics and chemistry will win; they always do, since they are unaffected by public opinion. The responsibility for preventing a runaway greenhouse effect necessarily rests with the world’s industrialized nations, for they are the ones whose CO2 emissions have pushed the planet to the brink of catastrophe.

Warren Senders

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