Copenhagen / Countdown (4) / Conference Starts
As luck would have it, I, the so-called leader of the UoM/Alma Delegation to the Conference of Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen – I have not made it to Copenhagen. I sit in the Frankfurt Airport. That nasty weather in Chicago was going to be a problem, and I used my fabulous skills to rebook to Frankfurt, which it turns out is not, in fact, Copenhagen. But soon I will be there. Our delegation has an increasing presence there and you can see student blogs at UoM at COP-15 and one of our team has been picked up by the Detroit Free Press. (I admit a visceral response when I see nasty comments written to the student’s posts.)
Here are the things that strike me as most worthy of mention. Late last week I was on a telecon that also included Jim Hansen. I asked him if he was coming to Copenhagen, and he strongly stated that he was boycotting the meeting because of the weak position being taken by the U.S. and the politicians in general. Here is an op-ed piece he wrote in the New York Times , and from his web site a more cutting piece about cap and trade. Jim is one of the most prominent advocates for reduction of greenhouse gases NOW, and he is clear that he feels that congress and expediency of policy are dominating the discussion at the expense of the Earth. Jim, a growing number of scientists, and I all agree that cap and trade does not look like there is any there, there. Hence a more viable policy vehicle to me is based on fees or taxes. (Rood and Thoumi at Mongabay)
Jim is also strongly driven by the legacy that we are leaving to our grandchildren, and wants to be remembered as someone who gave a damn. The power of legacy always comes up in my class as one of the most important motivators to address climate change. Here is an old blog on “taking back the planet”.
Jim is prominent enough that his boycotting gets attention. I, on the other hand, feel that it is more important for my students (and me) to understand the climate-policy interface. I have already given up on curbing emissions in the near-term and see that in placing the next generation at the forefront of problem solving is the best contribution I can make.
Like Jeff Masters I also will mention the U.S. EPA’s decision to regulate carbon dioxide. This decision is based on the public health aspects of global warming, and follows from the 2007 Supreme Court Decision. This decision seemed significant at the time as it offered a lever into the controlling greenhouse gases in the absence of policy-based solutions. No one is really in favor of a regulation-based solution, but this tension between policy, regulation, and regulation enforcement is part of the slow path of policy development in the U.S. This will lead to a lot of litigation. It is interesting that the automobile industry is likely removed from the argument because of the new mileage standards that came from the economic bailout. (Did you think of that lever a year ago? Does that fuel the idea of controlling what humans exhale? OK …. I am off my usual narrative distance.)
Finally, I want to mention the Press release from the WMO (World Meteorological Organization). It has been pretty clear that 2000-2009 would be the warmest decade in history. That’s what this press release says. It also says 2009 will be quite a bit warmer than the La Niña cooled 2008. I leave it to the readers to rationalize the warmest decade and the currently popular arguments that its still not getting warmer.
Off to that final leg to Copenhagen, and to increase my carbon footprint (yes, I know).
And here is