Think ahead to December. Cast your mind to Copenhagen.
This December, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Unlike the last time there was a conference of this magnitude ( in Kyoto), the United States will take part in the deliberations and (I hope) agree to abide by the resolutions.
Last week I saw ads on TV and in the local newspapers saying “CO2 is Green” and urging people to contact their legislators to encourage them NOT to limit the production of CO2. While not technically incorrect to consider carbon dioxide a naturally occurring gas needed by green plants, it is misleading to try to get anyone to think that the planet currently needs more CO2.
The real problem we face is too much CO2 in the atmosphere right now. The effect of this overabundance of carbon dioxide is global warming, which leads to more droughts, more floods, less ice and snow which means less drinking water, increases in ocean temperatures which means loss of sea life, rising sea levels which means loss of land under the rising oceans, and extreme weather everywhere. In terms of loss of life in the ocean, methane is also a huge problem. The ultimate result of just two degrees of global warming could be a planet no longer able to sustain life as we know it. We’ve already passed the maximum safe limit of 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere and are at a dangerous 390 ppm and still climbing.
What needs to happen in Copenhagen—what must happen in Copenhagen—is for governments to agree to strict, enforceable limits and reductions on the man-made production of CO2 by business, transportation, energy production, housing, deforestation, and every man-made source of CO2. There are many viable ways to reach this goal and we need to accept and use them all: conservation, renewable energy sources, restrictions on emissions, land-use changes, transportation changes—the list is long and nothing should be ignored or excluded. We—you and me and the entire cultural milieu of blissful ignorance regarding the effect we have on the natural systems of our planet—must change. We—you and me and industry, government and culture—must change. The only change that will matter is to create limits and reductions.
Achievable gains in energy efficiency, renewable energy, forest conservation, and sustainable land use worldwide could achieve up to 75 percent of needed global emissions reductions in 2020 at a net savings of $14 billion.
Big business fights against new rules that would limit emissions, but that is a false economy on their parts. The attitude that profit making has no connection to the natural environment that supports life on the planet has to change.
What can you do about the problem of global warming?
Contact your government officials and let them know that strong action is needed in Copenhagen to both cap and reduce the production of greenhouses gases (CO2). This is the most important thing you can do. Government officials need to know that citizens support strong action now before it’s too late. If you are a U.S. citizen, sign the letter to President Obama to Take Action. But personal letters and emails to all your particular government officials are needed, too.
Support the efforts of 350.org and take part in their International Day of Climate Action October 24
Support 10:10 and their activities to reduce emissions 10% by 2010.