CO2 emissions have been increasing since the industrial revolution, and now it seems that the planet’s capability to absorb them is decreasing as well. This increase of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses is leading to a potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures as much as 6 degrees Celsius global by the end of our century. Among the likely results of this increase in greenhouse gasses are less ice and snow, more flooding, rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions generally.
Increasing numbers of species face extinction, and many among our own species would continue to endure an increasing onslaught of displacement, disease, starvation and war – and all the while U.S. Americans yawn or simply take refuge on thier childish mythologies about a big daddy in the sky who will save them because they are special.
To address this global challenge, 192 nations will convene at COP15, the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen from December7-18.
Environmental leaders and activists outside the gates of the official UN event are organizing their own parallel conference, Klimaforum 09.
A great resource on this is the Guardian’s “Countdown to Copenhagen” page, as well as their Q&A and historical timeline. To watch what is at stake at Copenhagen in cartoon form, click here.
Obama’s has given mixed signals, at best, on what can be hoped for in Copenhagen. Although he personally went there to lobby for a Chicago Olympics, the president of one of the most polluting nations on earth has yet to say whether he’ll even attend the international climate confernece. His absence could derail the meeting, just as it did the UN Conference on Racism earlier this year. He has even talked of postponing any binding agreements until 2010.
To be fair, Obama has a dilemma. Despite the German Chancellor’s personal plea to the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate will not focus on climate legislation until after the Copenhagen meeting. As summarized by the Guardian, this means that if Obama makes an offer there “it could subsequently be rejected in Washington. But if he makes no offer, the deal is likely to crash anyway, and with it hopes of rapidly combating global warming.”
Thus, one of The World’s Problems: global action on climate change is contingent on the despicable corporate whores who constitute the U.S. Senate.
But the political machinations are an abstraction from the actual problems to be addressed in Copenhagen, carbon pollution and the radical challenges that follow from it. NASA scientists have reached some consensus on the upper limit of the amount of carbon pollution consistent with earth civilization: 350 PPM (Parts Per Million), “the most important number on the planet,” according to Bill McKibben, whose 350.orginization coordinated actions all over the world last moth. Video here. Right now we are at 390, way in the red zone.
Meanwhile, James Lovelock, the 90 year old father of the Gaia theory and inventor of the instruments that measures atmospheric CFC’s thinks that it is already too late and that only the few will survive. The less fatalistic among you might want do something. A large mobilization is being planned for November 30, the eve of the Copenhagen Conference and the 10th anniversary of the shutdown of the WTO in Seattle.