Death by Durban

In 2005 the so-called Kyoto protocol went into force, requiring most of the developed nations to begin serious reductions in their production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). The protocol was designed to last until the end of 2012. It specifically left out reduction requirements for developing countries such as China, Brazil, and India. The European Union countries began specific and varied steps to implement the protocols; the United States did not.

Today what is supposed to be a determined attempt to expand the Kyoto protocols beyond 2012 begins in Durban South Africa. The outlook for success is not bright. For example, Japan, one of the major leaders in development of the Kyoto protocol, has said that it would not support a second commitment beyond 2012. So what began as an important effort by world governments to slow the rate of global warming is in real danger of suffocating. Rather than taking an energetic step forward, the participants are in danger of death by ennui.

Meanwhile, although the EU countries and the United States did reduce their levels of production of greenhouse gases in the late 2000s, China’s economic development resulted in gas production that more than counteracted those reductions. Apparently much of the GHG reductions in the developed world were due to their growing global economic difficulties rather than successful efforts by the committed countries. Now, it appears, the global rate of GHG production is already exceeding the upper limits of previous predictions.

In short, if you liked global warming before, you’ll love what is to come.

On the other hand, if you would like to preserve the best parts of society as we know it, it appears that you cannot depend on government actions, at least at the national or international level, to help you out. If we leave control of global warming to the major governments of the world we will have serious reductions in the viability of homo sap.

It appears that top-down action is not likely to occur. The alternative, then, seems to be for individual action to start making the crucial difference. Here are some options:

  • Exhort your regional or state government to emulate California, which has done some very progressive things in reducing global warming activities in the state;
  • Lean on your congressional representatives to start doing something useful instead of obstructing each other;
  • Immediately start reducing your own family’s energy consumption, particularly uses of fossil fuels (telecommuting is a good start);
  • Prompt your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and all others you may come in contact with, to also get involved in the activities above.

Keep in mind this fundamental thought: Mother Nature couldn’t care less about the future of the human race. If our actions cause global warming to be the death of our civilization (not to mention thousands of other species) that’s our problem not hers.

Don’t wait for someone else to act, do it yourself!

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