Are We Ever Going to Change?

The UN is convening a huge climate summit in Qatar, but contrary to the hopes of some participants I'm ashamed to say that America will continue to be a lone holdout when it comes to serious participation. I have very little hope that we'll muster the energy to make the serious changes necessary to mitigate the disasters that are destroying our coastal areas and igniting the western mountains every year.

And as a re-elected president talks about global warming again, climate activists are cautiously optimistic that the U.S. will be more than a disinterested bystander when the U.N. climate talks resume Monday with a two-week conference in Qatar.

"I think there will be expectations from countries to hear a new voice from the United States," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute in Washington.

The climate officials and environment ministers meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha will not come up with an answer to the global temperature rise that is already melting Arctic sea ice and permafrost, raising and acidifying the seas, and shifting rainfall patterns, which has an impact on floods and droughts.

They will focus on side issues, like extending the Kyoto protocol – an expiring emissions pact with a dwindling number of members – and ramping up climate financing for poor nations.

They will also try to structure the talks for a new global climate deal that is supposed to be adopted in 2015, a process in which American leadership is considered crucial.

  • trgahan

    I don’t hold much hope…on the Environment, the right seems just too strong.

    President Obama, much less any president, can’t be part of ANY treaty that calls for a reduction of anything with the UN without being thrashed for “turning his back on American!” and losing real support/giving the right the issue it needs to make gains in 2014.

    The problem is, denying climate change is just too easy. It justifies a lot of needless consumption and greed. Accepting climate change requires us to look at our livestyles and say ” do I really need that?” and Americans are not mature enough to face that question.

  • rob black

    Of course, if the opposition can take innocuous resolutions like agenda 21 and turn them in to ginormous stupid conspiracy theories for the drooling bagger base, imagine what they could do with any UN actions on climate change that have any real teeth.
    In fact, it may be that not giving the wingnuts a UN club to hammer the President with for this election explains the inaction we have seen over the past 4 years.
    He has the problem of the still crazy House to deal with, but it just depends on what kind of domestic policies he can afford to trade to get anything done with the UN.
    In any case, it is possible for the administration to become much more vocal on the issue than they have been in the past.
    God we need to take back the House in 2014…

  • muselet

    Polls show the public is well ahead of the politicians on this, but the issue isn’t a terribly high priority. It’s hard to worry about a silent and (in human terms, at least) gradual process when one is worried about financial insecurity, after all.

    There are a number of steps the US could take in the very short term (3–5 years) which could meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the most effective of those steps require two things that are in short supply: capital investment on a massive scale—the sort of thing government has done very successfully in the past—and vision.

    I’m not sure what it will take to spur us into action, but whatever it is, we’d better find it soon.