Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Climate action or more procrastination

While about 675,000 people took to the streets in cities around the world prior to the United Nations climate change summit meeting, relatively few ventured forth in Portugal, suggesting that climate change is not something the Portuguese much worry about.
Well over 300,000 protesters turned out in New York, 40,000 in London, 30,000 in Melbourne and 15,000 in Berlin. Even Bogota in Colombia drummed up a throng of some 5,000. Organisers said marches took place in more that 2,000 other cities to demand action.
The gatherings in Portugal were relatively modest affairs. About 100 people, with a strong showing of green balloons, congregated in Rossio Square in the centre of Lisbon. Smaller numbers assembled in Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Faro and elsewhere.
The global protests were designed to put pressure on world leaders attending the UN summit. US Secretary of State John Kerry, concurred and said climate change should be at the top of the agenda despite competition from more immediate challenges such as ISIS and ebola.
The Portuguese press and their readers are far more preoccupied about current economic issues than what the climate is going to be like decades from now. The trouble is, experts warn, unless something is done soon to limited global warming, the economies of Portugal and many other countries could be devastated.
Meanwhile, Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, a man of celestial-based faith, showed himself once again to be a down-to-earth pragmatist.
On the eve of the New York summit he expressed his views in The Observer newspaper. “Never before in history have human beings been called on to act collectively in defence of the Earth. As a species, we have endured world wars, epidemics, famine, slavery, apartheid and many other hideous consequences of religious, class, race, gender and ideological intolerance. People are extraordinarily resilient. The Earth has proven pretty resilient, too. It's managed to absorb most of what's been thrown at it since the industrial revolution and the invention of the internal combustion engine. Until now, that is.
“Because the science is clear: the sponge that cushions and sustains us, our environment, is already saturated with carbon. If we don't limit global warming to two degrees or less we are doomed to a period of unprecedented instability, insecurity and loss of species. Fossil fuels have powered human endeavour since our ancestors developed the skills to make and manage fire. Coal, gas and oil warm our homes, fuel our industries and enable our movements. We have allowed ourselves to become totally dependent, and are guilty of ignoring the warning signs of pending disaster. It is time to act.”
The aim of the New York summit - the first such meeting in five years - was “to galvanise” 120 member states to sign up to a comprehensive new global climate agreement at another “crucial” summit in Paris in 15 months from now.
And so, yet more delay. Satisfying the public demand for change to 100% clean energy has still a way to go.  

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