Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thirty-six years of failure: a brief history of climate change

Doug Craig / Redding.com

In late June of 1988, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the government of Canada sponsored "the World Conference on Our Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security".
More than 300 scientists and policy makers from 46 countries attended and released a Conference Statement that said in part, "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war. The Earth's atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities, inefficient and wasteful fossil fuel use and the effects of rapid population growth in many regions."
"The 1988 conference...put climate change on the global agenda and proposed a specific initial target for a global reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases - 20% below 1988 levels by 2005 - on the way to a much larger ultimate reduction, to be set following further research and debate."
To put this into perspective, nine years later, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that virtually every nation on Earth signed, except for the US, involved a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Eleven years later, President Obama, in turn, pledged to reduce American emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. This could be called goalpost shifting.
It is like a 200 pound man setting a goal to weigh 175 pounds in one year. A year later when he weighs 250 pounds, he sets a goal to weigh 225 pounds in one year. A year later when he weighs 300 pounds, his new goal is to weigh 275 pounds in one year. And so on. Our objective from the beginning appears to have been to set goals, not reach them. And when we fail to reach previous goals, we just set new ones. Anyway, the media and the public have a short memory and barely care. And in an election year, the fate of the planet is low on our list of priorities. Read More