The whole world is watching. Because the whole civilized world is at stake.The Copenhagen climate meetings begin with excitement and dread, and a strong message that 56 newspapers around the world deliver in concert.
Fifty-six newspapers are printing the same editorial in 45 countries, in 20 languages. The newspapers include 20 in western and eastern Europe, 11 in Africa, two in China, an Arab language newspaper, a newspaper in Israel. They include the Guardian in the UK, Le Monde in Paris, the Star in Toronto, and the Miami Herald--the only English language paper in the U.S.
For a summary of the editorial and a couple of other stories relating to Copenhagen today, please follow.
Theeditorial begins with a statement of purpose behind the "unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial:
" We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency. Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security."
"In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted."
"Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone."
The editorial admits that the hope for a "fully polished treaty" at the end of this conference is probably gone, "But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty."
This has been President Obama's announced goal, and one set of good news so far has been the targets announced not only by the U.S. but also China and India.
"At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided..." "Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions."
And there's hopeful news here, too, as President Obama has done what no U.S. administration did before: he's agreed to a global assistance fund to help developing countries deal with the Climate Crisis.
Even more momentum is expected later today (Monday) when the "EPA is expected to finalize its endangerment ruling on CO2 ...making regulations on CO2 legally mandated and all but inevitable."
The editorial includes support for cap and trade, and other measures that the developed world, the rich countries, must take. It doesn't dismiss or even underestimate the challenges. "The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing."
The editorial mentions "fair rewards for protecting forests" as part of the deal, and some good news is emerging on this as well: a deal between rich and poor countries to protect the world's forests is reportedly near. If it happens, it's likely to be announced in Copenhagen.
The editorial concludes:
Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.
Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature".
Back when Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was in its first decades, T. H. Huxley (and his most articulate disciple, H.G. Wells) proposed that while human beings were subject to natural selection just like the rest of nature, through its unique cultures and civilization, it could to some meaningful extent guide its own evolution.
Now we are faced with a profound test. We have unconsciously altered the natural world, and consequently it is changing in ways that can actually end human civilization. Can we summon the consciousness, and the knowledge, the will and the best of ourselves ethically and morally, to confront this challenge? If we do, human civilization has a chance--not only to survive, but to take the next big step. If we don't, human civilization is unlikely to last another century or so, along with the natural world as we know it. The changes will accelerate. No one can really say just when. But soon enough.
I'm convinced that a lot of support for Climate Crisis Deniers comes from people who are scared to death of change. There are two points to make about this. First, change is frightening. The devil you know is at least the devil you know. Second, change is coming, it is inevitable. But it will probably be a lot worse if the world does nothing.
Change can also be exciting. But whether frightening or exciting or both, it is a choice. Many of us embraced the theme of hope in the Obama campaign. But hope is more than an emotion. It is a choice. It is expressed in action. Hope for the future is action in the present.