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GLOBAL PARALYSIS ON CLIMATE March 20, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Natural Environment.
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As far as I can tell, time and time again, the problem is not the data but it is the political paralysis. Delay in taken effective, concerted global action adds to the problems of climate change.

Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock of the Week has come up with the video of the testimony to Congress by Michael Mann on the infamous (ice) hockey stick:

Jeff McMahon at Forbes published, “Scientists call for stronger global governance to address climate change” which reported that 32 scientists members of Earth Systems Governance project. Their paper had appeared in Science.

The scientists recommended the following recommendations:

  • A shift in the UN from consensus decision making, which requires all nations to agree to a new treaty, to qualified majority voting: “Not necessarily majority voting on the one country-one vote principle, but a system of voting where also larger countries can protect their own interest in a more meaningful way.”
  • Creation of a new council within the UN, the Council on Sustainable Development, that would consolidate the many agencies and more than 900 environmental treaties currently in effect. The call for environmental policy to be administered on the model of global economic governance—the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund. “We also argue for the upgrading of the existing U.N. environment program toward full-fledged specialized U.N. agencies, which would give this agency better possibilities, better mandate to influence norm setting processes, a better source of funding, and a higher influence in the international governance.”
  • A stronger role for civil society—for non-governmental organizations—in international decision making. This is necessary, Biermann says, in part to ensure accountability: ”The key question that we also have to ask ourselves is, ‘How can we hold these global systems of governance accountable to citizens? I mean, how can we invent in a way democracy, accountability, legitimacy at the global level?’ Civil society organizations should gain more rights in getting information and assessing information and also a stronger right to be heard in international norm setting procedures.”

The lead author of the Science article, Frank Biermann explained what was required in this podcast and summarized his views:

We know from the natural sciences that there are a number of core processes in the Earth’s system that are changing fundamentally. This is why natural scientists have coined this term of “The Anthropocene” that has been described as a fundamental transformation of key planetary systems. And we know what the demands are for the social systems and how to change current trends. But we also understand from our social science research that the social systems are not at the current condition to really change these trends.

So the governance systems that we have, the international treaties, the national policies, they are all not effective enough dealing with these challenges. And for this reason, we argue for a structural change in the global governance systems that are dealing with sustainable development and global environmental change.”

We can act individually and locally as much as we like, but that will not be enough, and the critical variable, which may be an unknown, is time. As far as I am aware, the signals have been definite for forty or more years, and to stop runaway climate change will be more difficult than a speeding train. The essential action is not only to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, but to reduce from the atmosphere. This seems to a cloud without a silver lining. As a global community we are it would seem tragically not organized to deal with the problem.

AFTERTHOUGHT

I become very pessimistic about the power structure in the world, and as others have observed this is underpinned by the politics of fossil fuels, so that a change to sustainable energy production is likely to be profound, at least in terms of players if not in terms of the script. That would require a change within people, which of course is not impossible.

Anyway, the most important thing to do, to avert international political failure to address the deep consequences of climate change is firstly to accept the settled science, those matters that scientists in the field do not seriously question and for which the empirical evidence is strong, and then do the obvious study of comparative costs of inaction and action, the difference between prevention and malady. These studies may be already out there.

There are plenty of quotes here from those who, often without relevant scientific competence question climate science. That would be well and good if it ever was well based and constructive. Then there could be a dialogue of the listening.

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