Squaring The Circle In Copenhagen

The Ancients discovered, thousands of years ago, that it can’t be done mathematically. Barack Obama finds himself today learning that lesson all over again , vis a vis ending ‘climate change’ in Copenhagen. In his speech to the plenary he admits as much when he says: “while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, I have to be honest, as the world watches us today, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now, and it hangs in the balance.”

Obama’s problem, as with the rest of the world, is that the reality of climate change IS in doubt and risking billions of dollars and forfeiting national sovereignty to “end it” are just not the sorts of things most countries are willing to do.

Copenhagen has been a miserable failure but it has been instructive. It has taught us that climate change (formerly known as ‘global warming’) may or may not be human induced. It has taught us that some climate data can be discounted (for the sake of convenience) while other climate data can be defended as an inconvenient truth wherever it might be financially expedient to do so. It has taught we novices that, at its core, ‘ending climate change’ is more about wealth redistribution and international interventionism than it is about saving the forests or the seas. It has taught us that the real fight over ‘climate change’ is about keeping what you already have versus getting what you don’t have from everybody else…for free. Obama:

I just want to say to this plenary session that we are running short on time. And at this point, the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart, whether we prefer posturing to action. I’m sure that many consider this an imperfect framework that I just described. No country will get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached, and no obligations with respect to transparency. They think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price; I understand that. There are those advanced nations who think that developing countries either cannot absorb this assistance, or that will not be held accountable effectively, and that the world’s fastest-growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.

We know the fault lines because we’ve been imprisoned by them for years. These international discussions have essentially taken place now for almost two decades, and we have very little to show for it other than an increased acceleration of the climate change phenomenon. The time for talk is over. This is the bottom line: We can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be part of a historic endeavor — one that makes life better for our children and our grandchildren.

Or we can choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year, perhaps decade after decade, all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible.

He suggests that NOW is the time to act, with no other compelling reason to do so than to be able to say we acted. Most of the rest of us are not inclined to agree, and that is reflected in the collapse of the summit. The data is not clear (and highly suspect), the facts are not in place, and those who would be asked to make the greatest of sacrifices are unwilling to do so. Now is the time to reflect…and to focus our resources where they can be best utilized (and closely scrutinized) on a local level, or as Schwarzenegger put it recently, on a “subnational” level…and absolutely NOT under the controlling hands of the United Nations and the World Bank.

[cross posted at Speak Out For America.]

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