Global Warming on Life Support


The COP26 conference in Glasgow is into its last day of negotiations and deliberations. And as always happens, progress is made on the last day. Usually that means minimal progress. I think that is the correct characterization again.

Today I heard Michael Mann a widely respected climate change scientist say he was optimistic.  That shocked me. He said the Americans and Chinese made an agreement whereby they each committed to do more to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. That was good. But was it good enough?

According to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is “on life support” as UN climate talks enter their final days, but he added that “until the last moment, hope should be maintained.”

The youthful protesters outside the conference walls have been protesting the lack of progress. Greta Thunberg said it was just so much “Blah, Blah, Blah.”  That’s what I thought too. I hope Mann is right and she is wrong. I was very pessimistic when I learned the fossil fuel industry had more representatives at the conference than any one country!  No wonder I saw a photo of one of the youthful protesters with a sign that read, “Why is the fossil fuel industry inside?”  That is a pretty good question.

A few years ago already the countries of the world promised to provide $100 billion dollars a year to undeveloped countries to compensate them for damages and losses they incurred as a result of climate change largely brought on by the wealthy countries of the world. So far, despite the promises they have not ponied up with the promised cash. The UN Secretary had the right response to this uncomfortable fact: “promises ring hollow when the fossil fuels industry still receives trillions in subsidies… or when countries are still building coal plants.” Such promises don’t just ring hollow; they stink.  Guterres as right when he said this gap exposed a “glaring injustice.” After all, the undeveloped countries have not caused the global warming, but they have been suffering the most. Not fair! Not helpful!

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