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Like boatsie, I'm reporting and tweeting live from the international climate talks in Cancun, Mexico. This post originally appeared on the Wonk Room.

As the world's environmental ministers arrive in Cancun, Mexico, for the 19th year of negotiations to address global warming pollution, new climate disasters are killing people across the planet.

The slow-moving climate talks are hobbled by insufficient amibition, and uncertainty over whether the United States or China -- the world's largest climate polluters -- will follow through with their Copenhagen Accord commitments. The Obama administration's stated commitment to cut pollution by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, after Republican climate deniers killed cap-and-trade legislation, now depends on whether the Environmental Protection Agency's planned greenhouse standards survive a polluter onslaught.

Meanwhile, the building heat trapped by billions of tons of fossil fuel pollution is fueling catastrophic changes in the world's climate system predicted years ago by scientists:

  • The worst wildfires in Israel's history, fueled by record warmth and drought during the cele, "have destroyed large sections of Israel’s northern area" and killed 41 people. Four days of intense battle during the celebration of Hanukkah, with assistance from Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Russia, France, Britain, Switzerland, Spain, US, Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Azerbaijan and others, have finally begun to bring the devastation under control.

  • Forty-two separate wildfires are burning in neighboring Lebanon, which has the same tinderbox conditions.

  • Dynamic winter-storm systems driven by the rapidly warming Arctic have plunged much of Europe into killer cold weather for the second year in a row, months after a summer of record heat and precipitation. Up to 30 people have frozen to death in Poland, and thirty more killed in the rest of Europe.

  • Floods have hit Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia after "three weeks of torrential rains," forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

  • Thousands of people have been evacuated amid catastrophic floods in Australia that have already destroyed $500 million in crops, with rivers still rising.

  • Thunderstorms, high winds and tornadoes ripped through the southern United States, injuring at least 30 people, destroying buildings, toppling trees, flooding highways and forcing schools to close.

  • New Zealand is facing an intense heatwave and its third consecutive summer of drought.

  • "The death toll from the incessant rains in Venezuela has risen to 34," with "more than 70,000 people who have been affected" by the catastrophic floods.

  • "As many as 200 people may have been buried in a landslide Sunday that swept over 10 houses near Medellin, Colombia's second largest city," as the country "has been lashed in recent weeks by heavy rains that have left at least 176 people dead and 225 injured, as well as 1.5 million people homeless nationwide."

  • In India, "more than 150 people have died following heavy rains in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu over the past few days."

  • A "massive wildfire in Tibet's Sichuan province killed 22 people, including Chinese soldiers during a rescue operation" on Sunday.

Speaking at the funeral of a teenage volunteer firefighter, President Shimon Peres said the wildfire "disaster taught us that all of us, Jews, Arabs, Druze, and other peoples, share the same fate."  If the climate negotiators in Cancun can find the same sense of solidarity in crisis shown in their home countries, there could be reason for hope.

Originally posted to The Cunctator on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 06:45 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Japan, Canada, Russia worst right now (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayDean, WarrenS, citisven

      US and China negotiators are not setting up roadblocks at Cancun (other than the problems caused by their politics). But the decision by Japan, followed by Canada & Russia to take a hardline position against extending the Kyoto Protocol in any fashion, threatens to blow up the talks.

      Find out the latest in the global warming fight at Wonk Room!

      by The Cunctator on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 06:47:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for this. loving following ur stories (4+ / 0-)

    but still haven't met up. things are so overwhelming here,huh? So much going on every single moment you wish you could split into thousands of pieces every hour... its fabulous to read a snapshot like this and i sure do wish and it is so frigging hard to believe that there are so few, so damn few paying attendion.

    get so tired of singing to the choir. love the time at 8:30 ish in CM when they play that beautiful music and hardly is there though .. but it is such an uplifting end to the day.

    mb we connect before the end...

    What did you do when you knew? boatsie

    by boatsie on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 07:23:18 AM PST

  •  tipped, recced and bookmarked (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven

    for reference.

    thanks as always for excellent work.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:10:31 AM PST

  •  you and boatsie should team up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven

    would be great.:)

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:13:19 AM PST

  •  very informative diary (0+ / 0-)

    but as boatsie says above, it's sometimes frustrating to keep hearing this information over and over, not knowing whether this actually reaching anyone who hasn't heard about it. I quoted this in another diary the other day, but this quote I recently read by Duane Elgin gives me hope that we're not just sitting in an echo chamber, with the doors glued shut:

    Based upon three decades of research, I estimate that as of 2009, roughly 20 percent of the US adult population, or approximately 40 million people, are consciously crafting Earth-friendly or green ways of living. These lifeway pioneers are providing the critical mass of invention at the grassroots level that could enable the larger society to swiftly develop alternative ways and approaches to living.

    So 20% of the U.S. population is actually interested in and cares about these issue, the task is to get to a critical mass.

  •  It's not just preaching to the choir... (0+ / 0-)

    This is extremely valuable and I don't think it's just preaching to the choir. I'm one of those people sort-of pioneering a more sustainable lifestyle. I  live in a pod under a tree in the backyard of a house shared with a dozen people. But I only ended up there due to financial and other realities which forced me to look for a more sustainable way of life.

    One of the hard questions I've had to ask myself is, had I continued making the big money I used to make in Hollywood before the economy took a nose dive, would I really be into climate awareness now or not? I don't think I'd live in a pod if I didn't have to move out of my luxury digs last year. Just being honest. I could live in an apartment for the same money, sure, so at some point I chose to explore this lifestyle. But I didn't set onto the eco-path by choice alone; and America as a nation doesn't seem to be setting onto this path by choice either.

    Even now, I'm not 100% in the climate action movement... I don't get paid for my commentary which makes it hard to do regularly... so I just keep coming back to it when I have time, and when I do, I look to people like you for information I can trust.

    I think it's important, however frustrating, to remember that there are very few of you right now looking for this kind of information and trying to make sense of it, and then reflecting it out to others. You few are holding the torch right now.

    People like me are "one layer out" in the concentric rings from you who are on the front lines. You're pretty much preaching to the choir unfortunately, but you've certainly reached me, and for what it's worth, I think I represent a glimmer of hope that people on the outside are listening... I mean, at least people with one foot in are listening... I'm meditating and racking my brain alternatively, looking for ways to take in all this information and then reflect it out to yet another concentric circle of people who don't even necessarily have one foot in.

    Fyi, my biggest-hit so far in the climate change commentary arena was my article The Tantra of Climate Change which used sex as an obvious hook... and it worked. Maybe we should go into climate change porn, that would get a lot of eyeballs.

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