With the die now cast for the outcomes of the United Nations agreement in Copenhagen on Dec 7th to 18th 2009, Incoming COP15 president, Connie Hedegaard, says Failure in Copenhagen is not an option. And complexity is no excuse for complacency. There will be unlikely to be a chance again if we miss this one or postpone. To build up again the pressure to get world leaders to deliver will be impossible, so it must be done. Getting the text right and removing the square brackets to make the issues and political choices clear is the work to be done.
But just weeks before the international conference, the United Nations signaled it was scaling back expectations of reaching agreement on a new treaty to slow global warming. Janos Pasztor, director of the secretary-general’s Team, was reported last week as saying.
"it’s hard to say how far the conference will be able to go" because the U.S. Congress has not agreed on a climate bill, and developing countries limit their discharges.have not agreed on targets to reduce their or funding to help
Tony’s autographed print of his log book sits on my bookshelf to serve as a model for achievement. What makes athletes like Tony unique, is their ability to deal with complex and rapidly changing issues and make decisions for both their short and long term survival.
In 1998 Tony was one of the survivors of the ill fated Sydney to Hobart Yacht race that claimed many lives. The deteriorating climate that saw those sailors lost is high in the minds of world leaders.
Next month in Copenhagen these people will try to agree on a plan to mange the causes of climate change that threatens the very survival of the human race. This will update the expiring Kyoto protocol agreement of 1997.
Ralph Eastman’s Carbon Constrained World Reality report on March 13th on my discussion with Stian Reklev. Stian is Managing Editor of the specialist online newspaper Point Carbon. He is also an often sought after expert on the subject himself. At the time Stian captured for me the essence what Copenhagen is all about: Namely getting agreement on 1. Emission caps 2, Who picks up the bill and 3. Adaption
Since Kyoto, there has developed more controversy on the climate issue as people learn more. Vested interests have also become stronger and more entrenched. The ability to agree and decide on a direction is vital for the next generation’s survival. But it is equally difficult to achieve. Deciding is quite unlike the lone sailor whose mission is clear. He or she can process information with speed to make very clear decisions, having prepared for all types of risks in advance. But the collective inputs to a climate management, sees interests not in all in agreement. Positions to maintain calm waters status quo, may even prevail, when it is clear to so many there is a storm coming.
Convinced by the physical evidence, the change activists want carbon limits raised. Just re-running the 2005 documentary “An Inconvenient truth” still cannot be ignored despite opposing denouncement. And reading the daily papers tells you facts that continue to reinforce concern. This week in the New York Times it leads with a headline “Seas Grow Less Effective at Absorbing Emissions”
Governments over the last 10 years since Kyoto, have invested greatly in programs for carbon reduction schemes across the globe. This has created an industry with things like the carbon market initiatives. Hence a balance of interest groups now exist.
Not surprising, is disagreement by many scientists, whose counter arguments are often convincing. Well summarized facts and figures often lead them to say we need more proof before taking action. But what if they are wrong?
While advocates for constraint seek agreement and ways to keep the issue in the public face, the irony is much of the power still rests with those who oppose. They produce the life-giving energy we all rely on and can influence to offer us a stream alternative information. This means if Copenhagen fails they may just keep on sailing unchecked while they search of a solution at some time in the future; Which by then it may be too late.
As “Upton Sinclair” American writer and social change advocate in the early 20th century said “it is difficult to get people to understand something when their salary depends on not understanding it” This can of course be true of all sides.
So the issues are complex and burdened with well placed facts. figures and modeled outcomes and delivered through highly credible people who argue there is no evidence to support the climate deterioration. Or if so, then there is no evidence it is caused by human activity.
Interesting too is the timing of a headline about a Hacked E-Mail Is New Fodder for Climate Dispute. On Tuesday a British University was reported as being hacked
A NYT report I read cited several scientists pressing the case that global warming is true.
The report also says, “Some of the correspondence recently hacked in a UK University portrays scientists as feeling under siege by the skeptics’ camp and worried that any stray comment or data glitch could be turned against them”.
Other quotes from this same report go on to say “evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so widely accepted that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument”.
The New York Times confirmed the authors or recipients of hacked email messages . The revelations are bound to inflame the public debate as hundreds of negotiators prepare to negotiate an international climate accord at meetings in Copenhagen month, and at least one scientist speculated that the timing was not coincidental.
So what do yachts and their sailors have to do with all this. Some time ago I wrote to my bother, a media professional, to seek his engagement in the debate. I also sought his opinion on climate change and how we should address it. His edited response refers that 1998 yacht race was in context, I thought it worthy of sharing:
People can throw their hands in the air and jump on either side with that one. Global Warming and Ice Age indeed! Either way, the consequences aren’t all that palatable.
The meteorological details will always be difficult. And what modeling?
I am reminded of a three international atmospheric 3D models used to predict the weather for the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yachts. This extraordinary work deals with complex and dynamic detail but on this occasion none were right.
What was remarkable was the work a privateer who also modeled the interacting vortices, and sea temperatures etc., in the Tasman Sea and Bass Straight, being the race regions.
His radioed warning to the yachts of his prediction of a gale force wind of 90 knots, was life saving to those who got the message. They knew to sail out of the developing storm. Others, who turned back to land for safety, met steep-ling waves, which for many were fatal.
So if it’s so hard to model the climate in the space of a single day, how hard is it to model it over centuries? There is of course some convenient history to work with from the past, including that ironically stored in the Antarctic ice.
Maddening isn’t it?
Regardless of the arguments a Carbon Constrained World Reality just makes sense. But the September 2009 Bangkok UN conference of world leaders and advocates, staged to position for a smooth agreement at Copenhagen, was not encouraging.
If it needs to be said that failure in Copenhagen is not an option, clearly this it seems it may be. So the text of arguments must be convincing and hit the mark well so delay is not in the conclusion.
As for Tony Mowbray, giving up was not an option when he faced adversity on his lonely voyage. So is the Copenhagen goal, It is too important.
Those leaders attending Copenhagen, who are determined to make the difference, and Connie Hedegaard, who heads it all up have a daunting task to meet the goals, I can only repeat what Tony Mowbray said to me when he autographed his log book for me:
“Go get ’em!”
To be continued: