On 23 November 2013 the WWF, Oxfam, ActionAid, the International Trade Union Confederation, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace walked out of COP19, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw.
Oxfam Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: “Governments must…come back in 2014 ready for meaningful discussions on how they will deliver their share of the emissions reductions which scientists say are needed, and their share of the money needed to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt.”
All six issued a statement: “The Warsaw climate conference, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing.”
Among actions which drove them to leave was Tony Abbott’s. The Australian PM backed by the UK Government, wants to avoid any recognition and payment to poorer countries for loss and damage payments for damage caused by Global Warming. Abbott did not attend. He was spearheading a move to repeal the Australian Carbon Tax telling the Washington Post: The carbon tax is bad for the economy and it doesn’t do any good for the environment.
Scientists began sampling atmospheric carbon or CO2 in 1958 when it was 315PPM in the days of President Eisenhower. At this point when they knew from glacier sampling that before the Industrial Revolution the figure wavered between 180 and 280PPM. They issued the first warnings about CO2’s warming effect on the atmosphere and its ability to cause climate change.
Under Eisenhower the USA had just commenced a huge Interstate Highway System – the greatest civil engineering project in world history. Ike had such good intentions in starting this when President after his experience as an army Major observer on the US Army Transcontinental Convoy of 1919. That took over two months to reach the West Coast from the White House Lawn. Once the convoy left Omaha there were no roads until they crossed the Rockies and reached Sacramento.
Europe followed Ike’s lead. In Britain plans were laid for the M1 and a similar national road plan. Dr Beeching of ICI drew up his rail closure plan and planning inspector Colin Buchanan prepared a report called Traffic in Towns. Multi-national companies like Chevron Texaco, Exxon/Mobil, BP and Ford jumped on the world bandwagon. Few had counted the consequences though the profits were enormous.
Twenty years later when a concerned Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof, the level had risen to 337PPM. In 1979 President Reagan, a former second rate actor who was good at reading other people’s lines had the panels put in a skip. Meanwhile the index rose to 339 PPM. By the time Reagan left office the CO2 index had reached 352 PPM. At that point NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen issued a warning to the US Senate that such levels, if not reduced, would introduce catastrophic climate change.
The major problem with building roads is, as fast as they are built they fill up with traffic pumping out CO2. We’ve seen that here with the M25 which at times represents an enormous parking lot and cars line all lanes nose to tail across the QE Bridge.
By March 1997 as the CO2 count reached 363PPM the United Nations convened the first Council of the Parties (COP) on Climate Action in Germany. So bad was the situation that COP met again in Kyoto as the count reached 365PPM. Apart from Andorra and South Sudan the only other countries not to sign up to reduce levels at Kyoto to below 1997 levels were Canada and the USA.
In 2008 James Hansen of NASA renewed his warnings. Today the count hovers just under the 400PPM level. In 50 years since Ike left office when CO2 emissions were 40PPM above pre-industrial highs, they are now 200PPM higher. They have tripled since the first concerns were raised and have gone up 50% since the first COP climate summit. However the scientific warnings may at last be changing political minds as huge gales lash the coast of Britain and rivers burst their banks and every State in the USA shivers in unbelievably low temperatures.
On the 8th January 2014 David Cameron told the House of Commons that he suspects the dramatic weather that we and the rest of the world are experiencing, is caused by climate change. His own party is split on the matter. Owen Patterson MP, Minister of the Environment, has expressed views sympathetic to leading climate skeptics like Nigel Lawson.
Meanwhile the major producers of CO2 continue to pump funds into the climate change denier’s camp. Let’s hope the penny drops before the sky finally falls in. Otherwise we are heading for insanity by, as Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.