The post Lima preparation for Paris is already underway. While each country and their delegations have their own expectations and responsibilities, it is imperative that the entire global community prepares as well. What better way to spread global awareness and participation than with live music!? Al Gore and pop icon Pharrell Williams have teamed up to announce a global Live Earth concert in June. This concert, with its purpose to demand climate action, will be staged in six cities on all seven continents. Yes, Antarctica will also be participating in this global event. On this day, the entire globe will stand up together for a cause that is affecting all aspects of our shared planet. The ultimate goal of this music festival is to collect 1 billion signatures to encourage world leaders to adopt a new climate agreement in Paris at COP21. There is a lot of pressure for the outcomes in Paris, especially after 2014 was recorded as the Earth’s warmest year on record. A global event like this could be groundbreaking for increasing public action and awareness.
Thus far our time in Lima has been spent sightseeing, for both people and places. We have been spending our days at Voces por el Clima interviewing delegates and representatives from various countries, Peru, Bolivia, Netherlands, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to name a few. While also exploring Lima outside of COP venues, we continue to run into party members and representatives. We were fortunate enough to have dinner with Gabriel Blanco a delegate from Argentina who has attended 9 previous COPs. Through a more relaxed interview involving cebiche and cerveza, Señor Blanco held nothing back about Argentina’s insufficient climate action. While it was surprising to hear about Argentina’s climate denial, it was even more surprising to me that Argentinas government continued to send delegates to a convention in which the argentine people had very little commitment towards. Leaving that dinner was a bit frustrating to hear that despite this being the twentieth conference of the parties, some governments are still in disagreement about the changing climate which is greatly impacting the lack of education for its citizens. Therefore a cycle of negligence occurs. However, Gabriel Blanco seemed somewhat optimistic for the outcomes in Lima, and we told him we will come to Argentina to help change the minds of the many Argentines who remain apathetic towards climate change.
In today’s class lecture we discussed Brazil’s progress towards mitigating climate change. Brazil has made an enormous effort in reducing tropical deforestation,“Brazil has kept 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere since 2004″ (Atkin, 2014). Brazil once had the highest deforestation rate in the world mainly due to livestock and logging. Rainforests are an important carbon sink, however deforestation emits large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus changing the climate. Although Brazil’s 70 percent decline in deforestation has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, other parts of Brazil are still feeling the effects of climate change. Sao Paulo is suffering from one of the worst droughts to have hit Southern Brazil in several decades. The water scarcity is causing violent conflicts between residents. As the climate continues to change, and droughts become more prevalent we can expect to see more violent conflicts and citizens protesting for access to resources like water, which are necessary for survival. Rainy seasons in Brazil have shown a pattern of less rainfall each year, “The Sao Paulo metropolitan area ended its last rainy season in February with just a third of the usual rain total only 9 inches” (Gomez-Licon, 2014). The government is being blamed for the issues of water scarcity, which shows that as the climate keeps changing and water becomes more limited there must be systems implemented for distributing water equally. Otherwise the world’s poor will be exposed to more vulnerabilities, and violent conflicts will increase.
Atkin, Emily. “Brazil Has Done More To Stop Climate Change Than Any Other Country, Study Finds.” ThinkProgress. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/06/3446097/brazil-cuts-carbon/>.
Gomez Licon, Adriana. “Sao Paulo Drought Leaves Brazil’s Biggest City Desperate For Water.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 07 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/07/sao-paulo-drought_n_6118888.html?utm_hp_ref=green>.
One idea in the passage that does not allow for interpretation is that humankind is exploiting the world for its resources that help us survive, but this exploitation of earth for our needs is coming to an end with global climate change negotiations and adaptations on the rise. Another widely understood component is that climate change has already struck and is striking currently. In addition, the Parties should be preparing for what has yet to come by reducing the triggers of climate change and by cleaning up the damaging effects that it has already caused.
While there are grave and irreparable damages that climate change has and could cause, it is not the reason to stop trying to bring it to a halt. Even the uncertainty of scientific evidence is not a good enough reason. Earth as we know it will soon disappear because of our doings. We are the reason for it being in this state. One just wonders just how the should go about reducing or stopping the effects of climate change. We want to reduce or stop it where we will benefit the most but at the lowest possible cost. Just how will we do it though?
Global benefits are spoken about in the article. However, there is a question of who will ultimately benefit. Will it be the developed or developing nations? Developed nations carry more CO2 emission weight but developing nations carry some too. Developed nations are more powerful though, which may play a role on who benefits more ultimately. Also, there are implications in figuring out a solution to this problem in a cost effective way. Who will figure that out and how will they figure that out? It is still very vague and up in the air. Cost effectiveness is a factor that drives the solution but it’s not the solution as a whole.
The world in which we live in is made up of optimists and pessimists. There are those who always look for the bright side in a given situation and then there are those who just expect the worst. In terms of international relations, we call the optimists the liberals and constructivists and we call the pessimists the realists. Liberals believe that global cooperation can be achieved and is an alternative to power politics. Constructivists are a bit different. They believe that change in world politics can transpire without having to change the entire structure of the international system. Realists on the other hand think that everyone is in it for themselves. It is all a game of who can get the most power between sovereign states.
According to Russell Bova’s book “How the World Works”, “While liberals and constructivists see global problems like the environment pushing states toward cooperation and global solutions, U.S. nonparticipation in the Kyoto Protocol and the disappointing outcome at Copenhagen reinforce realist skepticism. Indeed, realists see those environmental problems as yet another potential source of international conflict” (p.248). Realists see that international conflicts will arise such as competition for scarce resources. Just like the power game, a race will start regarding who can get the most of what is running out—let’s face it, the bigger country with the most power will win.
If every single country decides to cooperate and solutions are created for our global problems, all might be well and go smoothly…NOT! This is where the question of governance for whom comes into play. Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell addressed this question pretty well in “Governing Climate Change.” They discussed three areas where issues arise regarding global problems. The questions of who is responsible, who pays for action on mitigation and adaption, and who bears the costs of actions and inactions pops up. The countries that have contributed the least amount of carbon emissions which would be the developing nations, are actually much more susceptible to the effects of climate change than the large actors. Richer countries have the ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, Bangladesh is a country that lies below sea level. When areas in Bangladesh are hit hard and homes, lands, family, as well as many other things are lost, who comes to their rescue? It’s certainly not their government because they cannot afford it. These people living in these areas have to fend for themselves and establish a whole new life in the slums of a city. They have to start from scratch. However, when the Northeastern coast was hit by hurricane Sandy, shelters, food, repairs, and so much more were provided to those who needed the aid. The government had funds to aid those in need and also had money to repair the damages. In New York City, the subways were drained, houses near beaches were fixed, and even places such as South Street Seaport were repaired almost immediately. A big and powerful country like the United States has the ability to go back to our daily routines. Countries like Bangladesh do not.
Climate change was caused by the development of the North. The United States has contributed twenty percent towards global emissions. The United States alone caused this much damage, so why should others pay the price? Ultimately, can all of the countries in the world cooperate and come up with global solutions when the United States did not even participate in the Kyoto Protocol?
After reading Spencer R. Wearts book “The Discovery of Climate Change” I realize that the science behind global warming is extremely simple. As early as the 19th century scientists had already figured out what greenhouse gases were and identified CO2 as a threat. The logic behind it is also extremely simple, without carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases the earth would freeze. Not only were greenhouse gases identified but by the time the industrial revolution was in full swing, scientists already knew that human created machines emitted large quantities of carbon dioxide. I immediately thought, what were we [they] thinking? I then began to think about pre-industrial life to a post industrial standard, and I became clear that the idea of machinery and higher standards of living blew environmental preservation right out of the water. It is simply human nature. As humans we seek constantly seek to better our lot in life. As history has shown, long term issues are rarely considered when confronted with short term problems. That sounds pretty bleak and slightly putting down the entire human race. While continuing to read, and kept pondering the same question: “if people knew, why didn’t they try and change then?” Early industrialization led to machinery that could mass produce items as well as agricultural advances. At this point, coal smoke was the primary emission of these early machines. Coal was one of the only viable fuel sources at the time, so of course it was used. Still this doesn’t explain why people didn’t try and rectify it early on. I think it is actually pretty clear, and possibly another by product of human nature. People back then did understand greenhouse gases, but couldn’t begin to comprehend the advances of technology or the true effects of CO2 emissions, in short they couldn’t predict what was to come.
By the early 1900’s some people had begin to predict future issues, which fell largely on deaf ears as the developed world was facing many other more”pressing” issues. Part of me thinks there is blame to be placed on early industry but in reality, there wasn’t many other fuel options. Only in the last part of the 20th century has technology surpassed fossil fuels. Now renewable resources and processes for harnessing them are extremely viable. Maybe there was no other way to industrialize than with fossil fuel, but in todays time, there is certainly enough technology and initiative to rectify those mistakes, and turn from a fossil fuel society to one based on renewables.
Merchants of Doubt paints a bleak picture of the state of affairs, from climate change to general rampant miss information. In regards to climate change it almost seems that Climate Change has never had a time to shine. In 1965 Roger Revelle made a prediction that by the year 2000, we would see physical changes in temperature due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Lyndon Johnson took the report to congress where it was essentially swept under the rug. Oreskes and conway explain that it was because of timing, there were more pressing concerns. It is clear that until very recent years there has been a generally downward spiral in the state of the world climate. In fact environmental issues as a whole always seem to fall low on the “pressing” scale. It would seem that because many environmental issues are “it will get bad in the future” kind of issues that they rarely seem to be dealt with “now”. Governmental policies, historically have not seemed to address and project what unchecked issues could potentially have in the future. Only recently when the current state of the environment has become blatantly apparent have there been more active movements towards preventing future issues.
Apart from the obvious issues presented in Merchants of Doubt, there seems to be one issues that contributes to the others. The issue of the modern age of communication. As expressed in the conclusion the right to freedom of the press is a double-edged sword. As they say everyone has an opinion, and with the advent of the internet, now you can share yours with everyone: “Opinions sometimes express ill-informed beliefs, not reliable knowledge.” Whats worse is that scientific fact has become harder for people to believe. By its nature the scientific process is designed to be proven wrong, and change. experiments are done, data is recorded and a consensus is met, yet with additional research that consensus can change easily and dramatically. Internet opinion, is organic in that it also changes constantly. I believe that people have been conditioned to not believe things that change often, that appear “wishy washy”. Because of this, scientific reasoning appears similar to internet information, and people are less likely to believe. In the example of climate change science, the addition of nay sayers only reinforces peoples belief that it can not be true.
With the ability of the internet, the words of Alexis de Tocqueville become very prevalent:
“A confused clamor rises on every side, and a thousand voices are heard at once”