Saturday, December 15, 2007

COP 13 Bali limp noodle


There's news from the Bali meeting. Highlights from the New Scientist blog (thanks to C. Brahic):

Friday: Having being booed by representatives of over 150 countries and countless NGOs and observers, the government of the United States finally conceded to a global consensus on climate change at 14.20 local time on Saturday on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Saturday: And then came the turn of the US. “We are not prepared to accept this formulation.” A stunned silence was followed by a crescendo of boos and hisses. But nations continued to accept the draft until Kevin Conrad, representative from Papua New Guinea, put in words what no-one dared say:

There is an old saying if you are not going to lead you should get out of the way and so I say to the United States: ‘We ask for your leadership but if you are not going to lead, leave it to us. Get out of the way.’”

-- “We have listened very closely to many of our colleagues,” replied P. Dobriansky, chief US negotiator and, after a few more of the dialectic detours which the US delegation has become known for, “we will go forward and join the consensus”.

And so the deal is done."

The NY Times fronts it as Reversal by U.S. yields Climate Plan and sums it up: "In a tumultuous final session at international climate talks in which the United States delegates were booed and hissed, the world’s nations committed Saturday to negotiating a new accord by 2009 that, in theory, would set the world on a course toward halving emissions of heat-trapping gases by 2050."

The UK Telegraph headlined that EU threatened Bush's climate talks, in that if the U.S. hadn't signed on to Bali, then the Europeans would've pulled out of the Exxon Mobil U.S. climate meeting at Honolulu 2008.

C. Glover (Telegraph) comments: "The bunch of Texan incompetents may have finally conceded that climate change is real, dangerous and happening, but no political leadership has resulted. They may have lost the war, but they are going to hold on to their guns."

Financial Times has an article on Gore lashing out at Bush at Bali: "My country is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali," Gore said, "[But] over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now."

So the U.S. rolled over like a puppy; the deal was signed, but not before the puppy piddled on the document. BBC has a nice summary of the toothless deal agreed on. BBC reports that Critics are angry at Bush climate plan. BBC further reports that Europe was aiming for firm emission targets and that "the U.S. and Canada, on ideological grounds," were determined to avoid anything firm now.

So: no emissions caps thanks to the U.S.
And so, we must try again, despite the U.S.

Here's the UN portal for the Bali docs; here is the puppy pee-stained resolution that "decides to launch a comprehensive process to enable yadda yadda and scratch their heads until UN Copenhagen 2009.

Meanwhile, as Americans keep motorvating and shopping like there's no tomorrow, their bad carbon breath is changing the PH value of World Oceans. What will the ocean's growing acidity do to world fisheries? What will happen to the fish? NOAA says that increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are acidifying the oceans. Corals, not fish, are the ocean's "canary in the coal mine." As a result, so Science cover story, planetary coral reefs are in trouble. Which is ironic, since 2008 is supposed to be the International Year of the Reef (IYOR). Even more ironic is that NOAA also states that 2007 will be a top ten warm year for U.S. and the globe. Oops.

Last but not least (thanks Dermot at Idleworm), it appears that global warming is melting NORAD.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the abominable Gringo Square


-- Update 12/13:

The Bali conference has been extended; a EU-led consensus of developing and developed nations has been reached; the U.S. is left behind as the last climate Humean of the planet; the U.S. pulls an Ayn Rand (the limp noodle version) and whines that saving world climate "would be too costly"; the UN thinks they're at the brink of agreement; but the U.S. rejects hard pollution limits because Adam Smith would reject them, too. A humbling post by H. Klein, Bush vs. Humanity at UN Climate Change convention, is at Alternet.

Klein blogs,

The news out of Bali reads like this: the whole world has come together to collectively try to solve mankind's biggest looming problem while the most selfish, greedy power on the globe, the U.S., sabotages every effort. The hatred being generated towards America is unlike anything I have ever seen in my travels, which started in 1969 and have included 4 filled-up passports, almost 100 countries, and over 6 years of living abroad.

-- Original post 12/12:

Today students are turning in term papers (finals week); depending on whether they are more interested in political philosophy, philosophy of science, or ethics, they write on (A) how climate change is a market failure, (B) how the Gaia hypothesis evolved to geophysiology, or (C) whether Deep Ecology is the value system of the future. This was the humanities version of the first climate seminar here (IDH 3100). Later this week a friend from geology and I will generate the syllabus for next term's science version of the climate seminar (IDH 3350). Next academic year the climate seminar at USF will be its own didactic unit, with its own course number.

Halfway around the planet, the UN is in the second week of climate talks at Bali. Here's the Intl Herald Trib's take 12/2 on the eve of the summit. Here's the FCCC's Bali-themed website. Here's the site of the United Nations Climate Change conference in Bali Dec 3-14. Here's the site for webcasts. Worth a look is the Bali Communique by global business leaders, a UK initiative. This resonates with another UK initiative, by British firms urging action on climate, as NY Times reported 11/25. Very cool: the UK Enviro minister John Hutton declared in Berlin on 12/10 the UK government project to switch over ALL British households to a wind energy fed power grid by 2020. Here's more on the UK wind power revolution in the Independent 12/12. On 11/30 NY Times reported on a study by McKinsey consultants detailing how the U.S. can cut 28% of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile the UN Environmental Programme warns that nonaction means poverty. (The UNEP report is here.) As yet, there's no deal in sight in Bali, at least this is how it looked on 12/10. And on 12/7 China scolded the US for not cleaning up its act.

So it appears the Bali conference started off auspiciously, with the new, better, and enlightened government of Australia signing on to Kyoto, what with the cool Aussie Environment minister and all, but unfortunately the United States plays the biospherical asshole again, calling the proposed global emission reduction of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 as "totally unrealistic" and "unhelpful" . Makes one wonder who is totally unrealistic and unhelpful here ...

There's a Bali blog by the good folks at the New Scientist.

Climate change is the perfect philosophical storm, which conspires against everything mainstream U.S. culture represents -- call it


at the upper right,

Adam Smith
-- market failure? no way! --

upper left,

David Hume
-- stop hockey sticks! mistrust causal forcing! --

lower right,

Ayn Rand
-- solidarity? you mad? dontcha love freedom? --

and at the lower left,

the red-eyed Baby Jesus with fangs
-- wreck nature,

pray for rapture,
and don't be left behind!--

The superstructure of college teachers, who, with few exceptions, tend "to slander the outward," as Emerson put it, reinforces the Gringo Square. Over climate change, U.S. college teachers flunk: a sorry blend of narcissism and skepticism; consumerist chickenshits with PhDs but no imagination. The Postmoderns sneer and snicker ("scientists? bunch of liars!"); the Analytics gasp, frown, and scoff ("holistic patterns? that's, like, so over."); and both teams have been driven into the defensive. So Gaia grins and looks at her watch. O, it's late, look at that -- already payback time!

Miami Herald wrote 11/28 on what global warming will cost Florida, a good first step but too blue-eyed given the AR 4 scenarios. The Guardian reports 12/6 that more than half of the Amazon will be lost by 2020 (the WWF report is here). Destroying peatland releases vast amounts of CO2, so New Scientist posts 12/11. Associated Press reports 12/12 that the Arctic melt has now broken five historic records. Yup, tipping point, baby! There may be no ice on the North Pole in five year's time ... imagine that.

Enough for today. Next week I'll give a few lectures overseas on climate change, cultural evolution, and Enlightenment. A more important lecture is this: Al Gore's 12/10 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Oh, and a fellow Regensburger, the Pope, declared today that he really hates me.

Update July 2008:

... well, maybe His Holiness doesn't anymore. The "he really hates me" link --if you checked you'd know -- goes to an article with the title "The Pope condemns the climate change prophets of doom," by S. Caldwell, 13 Dec 07, in the Daily Mail. So I felt rather condemned by the Pope, which made me sad, since we're both from Regensburg (he taught there; I studied there). But -- tempora mutantur, Summus Pontifex Ecclesiae Catholicae Romanae et mutantur illis. Turns out His Holiness retracts the papal condemnation of the Mad Hun and his Gaia-loving ilk: AP reports 12 July 08 that Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday he wants to wake up consciences on climate change during his pilgrimage in Australia.

Excuse me while I gloat.