Monday, November 25, 2013

UN Climate Change Conference Ends in disarray

Americans have a do-nothing congress. But the American congress actually does more than the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The same kind of intractable problems exist in both bodies.

The FCCC exists to deal with the problems of Climate Change. It has established several facts in the past, and most countries in the world agree with these facts: Climate change is real, climate change is man-made, and the effects are being felt right now. The countries of the world cannot agree what to do about these facts, however.

The most intransigent parties are the developed nations of the world. We will call these nations the Rich nations. The most exasperated are all the others, the Poor nations. The recent typhoon in the Philippines revealed the current state of the world in brief. An enormous typhoon struck the Philippines, causing billions of dollars in damage. The Philippines cannot afford to keep cleaning up after storms like this one. Without considerable help from the Rich nations, the Philippines will slip into a permanent recession. Cities will vanish. People may even revert to pre-civilized ways of life.

But Rich nations don't see this as their problem. It's a Poor nation problem and they will have to deal with it. Poor nations want to assess damages against Rich nations, who have profited from the industrial revolution for four hundred years. Rich nations won't admit liability.

Australia's new Prime Minister has proposed abolishing its tax on carbon. He argues for this abolition on grounds that it will save Australians money on their energy bills.

Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens puts it succinctly: 
Not only are we abandoning any real ambition to reduce emissions, but at the same time we’re saying we won’t even put up money to help developing countries around the world mitigate and adapt to global warming.
It has often been suggested that nothing short of an international catastrophe, like an invasion from outer space, will convince the people of Earth to stop fighting among themselves and work together to save the planet. Climate change is just such a catastrophe. People are not reacting well to this test, however.

The world is facing a crisis. Both Rich and Poor countries need to recognize the crisis and work to allay it. Rich countries can escape their responsibilities right now, but they don't have long before they must face the realities of climate change, because there is only one world and we all share it.

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