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.