Monday, November 19, 2007

To Save the World, or Burn It

Climate change loomed large in the international news over the weekend. On Saturday, in Valencia, Spain, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fourth and final synthesis report, with "language that is both more specific and forceful than its previous assessments" (NY Times). "IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri... described the consequences of not reversing the fossil fuel juggernaut as 'disastrous'" (BBC). Delegates from 130 nations signed off on the report, although our own United States delegation proudly stood with our long-time allies in truth and democracy - China and Saudi Arabia - in efforts to water down the report's alarming language. Hell, as long as our government's looking to censor and obfuscate inconvenient facts, we might as well work with the experts.

While delegates in Valencia worked, a typhoon flooded Bangladesh and killed hundreds, a vivid example of the "alarming predictions set out in the recent IPCC report" (BBC).

It all amounted to yet another headache for the tyrants at the OPEC conference in Riyadh, where skyrocketing prices and a weakening dollar are shaking the foundations of oil-wealth kleptocracies. These are hard times for these guys, so they asked the world kindly to solve the climate problem without adding to theirs: "It behooves us to find a technological process that will make the continued use of fossil fuels possible," said Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister (NYT).

All this leads to Bali, Indonesia, where the globe's climate diplomats will gather to hammer out a two-year agenda to the international treaty that will follow the Kyoto Protocol beginning on December 3rd. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, scolds that "governments were well behind business in preparing for the challenges ahead," and that if they fail to make an agreement now, after the strongly-worded consensus of the IPCC and 130 nations, we're all in "deep trouble" (The Guardian). Indeed.

It comes down to international diplomacy, now, to save the world, or burn it.

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