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Archive for January 2020

Climate Change – Pessimism or Optimism?

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As I continue to study Climate Change science I lurch between pessimism and optimism in regard to current efforts to mitigate global warming. COP25 was not much of a boost for optimism:

What of the future and the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November? Well, it’s said that prediction is difficult, particularly about the future! Let’s see.

Extreme Pessimism
Thousands of angry activists, including bands of school children, converge on Glasgow for COP26 but yet another failure threatens. The claims of poorer countries, already suffering and most likely to suffer in the future from rising sea levels, hurricanes, fires and all the other manifestations of climate change are virtually ignored by the major polluters. The activists try to stop conference delegates leaving without reaching agreement but are beaten back by a massive police presence. A full scale riot ensues with many arrests. Several activists, including children, are seriously injured by police baton charges as the police battle to clear a way out.

Rich countries and states, now in a fit of ‘me-first’, isolationist frenzy now erect protective barriers, real and economic, in a doomed attempt to maintain their own economies at previous levels while poorer countries fight among themselves for vanishing resources. Mr Trump, in his second term of office, pays lip service to shrill warnings from his own advisers and plants a couple of trees but courts short-term popularity by diverting massive resources into areas of the US most affected by increasingly frequent disasters. The intensifying trade war between the US and China leads to shortages of vital imported goods in both countries. Mr Trump threatens nuclear retaliation when China annexes a neighbouring country possessing scarce resources …..

Extreme Optimism
Thousands of hopeful activists, including bands of school children, converge on Glasgow for COP26 in the wake of Mr Trump’s presidential election defeat. The new US president immediately halts previous attempts to withdraw from the Paris agreement and aligns herself with the more proactive voices in the conference. But negotiations are complicated and protracted arguments drag on through the night. Huge crowds of activists worried by a lack of progress gather outside determined to stop delegates leaving with no agreement.

Finally, the police raise their batons preparing to clear the way when a small child pushes her way out and stands alone, directly in front of the police lines. A moment later she’s joined by an older boy, then another child and yet another until a wide band of children form a human shield in front of the main crowd of adult activists. In the silence that follows one policeman suddenly lowers his baton. The small girl approaches him and hesitatingly attaches a green leaf onto his tunic – the policeman smiles.

(Photo By: Lance Cpl. Carlos Jimenez)

The children begin to sing. Many in the police lines shuffle uncomfortably but lower their batons before orders are given. At once the situation defuses. The incident becomes viral on social media and is relayed to all corners of the globe …… and crucially, to those inside the conference. Somehow, minds are concentrated and within 24 hours an acceptable agreement is reached. The activists draw back and applaud the exhausted delegates as they file out. All countries are now agreed on new long term goals cutting their carbon emissions in line with the latest science. Very specific but fair rules are accepted for a carbon market between countries. What follows is some form of the “Green New Deal” encompassing drastic policy changes and leading to ecological transformation driven by mutually supportive communication and connection between the planet’s diverse communities .

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Mr Trump has classed climate activists as alarmists who demand, “absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.”! This arrant nonsense would be laughable were he not president of a major polluting country. How can such people be educated? I favour the carrot rather than the stick but if all else fails I wonder whether minds would be concentrated by an International Court dealing with those in positions of power shown to have wilfully exacerbated global warming with full knowledge of the consequences?

Written by Gordon Lockhart

January 23, 2020 at 10:13 am

Posted in Climate Change