Year 3, Month 12, Day 4: Don’t Just Do Something — Stand There!

The LA Times, on the Doha Climate Conference:

More than 17,000 people have converged on the Qatari capital for the latest U.N. climate talks, but the most influential presence may be Sandy.

The superstorm that ravaged the U.S. Northeast a month ago seared into the American consciousness an apocalyptic vision of what climate change could look like. On the heels of devastating wildfires, droughts and floods this year, Sandy’s destructive power snapped Americans to the reality that rising temperatures are a risk to their own well-being, not just a concern for distant lowlands.

Sandy’s fresh reminder of the potential consequences of global warming has been a dominant theme in the first days of the two-week meeting in Doha of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, delegates report.

Still, politicians and environmentalists at the gathering, which began Monday, maintain low expectations for the massive confab to spur swift or dramatic action to combat rising global temperatures. They predict that, at best, the unwieldy forum drawing together 195 countries and nongovernmental parties will bring agreement to formalize plans to negotiate new climate objectives that follow the aims of the 15-year-old Kyoto Protocol, ostensibly to be achieved by 2020. The next pact doesn’t need to be completed until 2015, so the international body is operating without the pressure of a looming deadline, participants said.

No urgency to this. Not at all. Sent November 28:

Superstorm Sandy’s pre-election visit did more than just allow a Republican governor and a Democratic president to work together. It also brought catastrophic climate change back to the national agenda, just in time for the Doha climate conference. While we can be grateful that this grave existential threat is once again on our radar, the fact that it takes a devastating storm to do so is an indictment of our perpetually distracted media and our all-too-distractable politicians.

The conclusions of climatology are as unambiguous as the law of gravity: climate change is real, it’s dangerous — and human industrial civilization is a root cause. What is needed is a sustained global effort to simultaneously reduce our carbon emissions drastically, develop solutions for excess atmospheric CO2, and prepare for the changes we cannot prevent. Will the Doha conference help make this happen? Not while science-denying conservatives remain powerful in our politics.

Warren Senders

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