Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Moving mountains (addendum to previous post)

Following my initial version of yesterday's post, I received feedback suggesting that my stance on global warming was lukewarm (pardon the pun), since I didn't seem to be as excited about this danger as I might be. Now, it's possible that I expressed myself ambiguously when clumsily associating events of the early '70s with today's grave environmental situation, as attested by countless serious witnesses. So, at the risk of repeating myself, I wish to make it clear that I believe, like most responsible observers, that global warming brought about by the excessive emission of greenhouse gases is a frightening threat, and that every citizen should stand on the rooftops and cry out—as best and loudly as he/she can—about this imminent danger.

Yesterday, I was trying to make two further points:

(1) In the beginning, we should adopt a cautious attitude, a priori, to many things that are being said on such a hot topic, even if this means being patient until we hear from authoritative specialists... such as those gathered together in Paris this week.

(2) If the problems are indeed as grave and urgent as what it appears, then they will surely need to be "managed" (I'm aware that this word is rather silly, but I prefer to remain fuzzy) by a world body associated with the UN.

Since writing yesterday's post, I see with alarm that the hobgoblin in the White House is even more dim-witted and nasty than what I had already imagined. The Californian Democrat Henry Waxman has just revealed that Bush administration officials had attempted to "mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming". Waxman spoke of a former lobbyist for the oil industry who happened to be head of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality. This lobbyist "imposed his own views on the reports scientists had submitted to the White House" as part of what Waxman called an "orchestrated campaign to mislead the public about climate change".

In spite of numerous recorded cases of political interference in the work of US climate scientists over recent years, Bush dared to let off hot air in his recent State of the Union address about the need to deal with "global climate change". To my mind, it's the microclimate in Washington that needs to be dealt with, drastically and rapidly.

Meanwhile, as the world awaits forthcoming information from the current IPCC meeting in Paris, there is talk of pressure being brought to bear on Ban Ki-moon, the new UN Secretary-General, persuading him to convene a summit conference of the world's leaders to deal with the threat of global warming.

Back in 1969, Ban Ki-moon's predecessor U Thant stated that "the members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to defuse the population explosion and to supply the required momentum to development efforts". Those words were spoken 38 years ago. Let us be absurdly optimistic and hope that, during that time, members of the United Nations have indeed become wiser and less quarrelsome than what they were at the time of U Thant.

A ray of light and hope in France. This morning, Nicolas Hulot's much-publicized ecological pact (mentioned in an earlier post) brought about a spectacular rendezvous of ten presidential candidates who explained, one after the other, why they had signed it. Is it thinkable that a TV star could in fact end up moving mountains more effectively than even a Secretary-General of the United Nations?

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