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Cry, the Beloved Climate

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Posted on Nov 29, 2011
AP / Schalk van Zuydam

Children react to a person dressed as the sun, part of an exhibit by Greenpeace at the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.

By Amy Goodman

The United Nations’ annual climate summit descended on Durban, South Africa, this week, but not in time to prevent the tragic death of Qodeni Ximba. The 17-year-old was one of 10 people killed in Durban on Sunday, the night before the U.N. conference opened. Torrential rains pummeled the seaside city of 3.5 million. Seven hundred homes were destroyed by the floods.

Ximba was sleeping when the concrete wall next to her collapsed. One woman tried to save a flailing 1-year-old baby whose parents had been crushed by their home. She failed, and the baby died along with both parents. All this, as more than 20,000 politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, scientists and activists made their way to what may be the last chance for the Kyoto Protocol.

How might the conference have prevented the deaths? A better question is, how might the massive deluge, which fell on the heels of other deadly storms this month, be linked to human-induced climate change, and what is the gathering in Durban doing about it? Durban has received twice the normal amount of rain for November. The trends suggest that extreme weather is going to get worse.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a group with thousands of scientists who volunteer their time “to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change.” The group won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Last week, the IPCC released a summary of its findings, clearly linking changing climate to extreme weather events such as drought, flash floods, hurricanes, heat waves and rising sea levels. The World Meteorological Organization released a summary of its latest findings, noting, to date, that 2011 is the 10th-warmest year on record, that the Arctic sea ice is at its all-time low volume this year, and that 13 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past 15 years.

Which brings us to Durban. This is the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or, simply, COP17. One of the signal achievements of the U.N. process to date is the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty with enforceable provisions designed to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. In 1997, when Kyoto was adopted, China was considered a poor, developing country, and, as such, had far fewer obligations under Kyoto. Now, the U.S. and others say that China must join the wealthy, developed nations and comply with that set of rules. China refuses. That is one of the major, but by no means the only, stumbling blocks to renewing the Kyoto Protocol (another major problem is that the world’s historically largest polluter, the United States, signed Kyoto but did not ratify it in Congress).

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In Copenhagen in late 2009 (at COP15), President Barack Obama swept in, organized back-door, invite-only meetings and crafted a voluntary—i.e., unenforceable—alternative to Kyoto, angering many. COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010 heightened the distance from the Kyoto Protocol. The prevailing wisdom in Durban is that this is make-or-break time for the U.N climate process.

Exacerbating Obama’s failures is the Republican majority in the House of Representatives that largely holds human-made climate change as being either a hoax or simply nonexistent, as do eight of nine Republican presidential candidates. Oil and gas corporations spend tens of millions of dollars annually to promote junk science and climate-change deniers. Their investment has paid off, with an increasing percentage of Americans believing that climate change is not a problem.

Coincident with the disappointing U.N. proceedings has been a growing movement for climate justice in the streets. Protests against fossil-fuel dependence, which accelerates global warming, range from the nonviolent direct action against mountaintop-removal coal mining in West Virginia to the arrest of more than 1,200 people at the White House opposing the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

Which is why Durban, South Africa, is such a fitting place for civil society to challenge the United Nations process. The continent of Africa is projected to experience the impact of climate change more severely than many other locales, and most populations here are less well-equipped to deal with climate disasters, without proper infrastructure or a reserve of wealth to deploy. Yet these are the people who threw off the oppressive yoke of apartheid.

South African novelist Alan Paton wrote of apartheid in 1948, the system’s first year, anticipating a long fight to overturn it, “Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.” The same determination is growing in the streets of Durban, providing the leadership so lacking in the guarded, air-conditioned enclave of COP17.


Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

© 2011 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, December 15, 2011 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

objective observer,

Not a problem.  We’re all on the same planet.  We’re all the same
species.  We all share the same fate. 

I enjoyed the exchange as well.

Take care.

Zing

Report this
AngelFive's avatar

By AngelFive, December 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

“A better question is, how might the massive deluge, which fell on the heels of other deadly storms this month, be linked to human-induced climate change, and what is the gathering in Durban doing about it? Durban has received twice the normal amount of rain for November. The trends suggest that extreme weather is going to get worse.” This sounds great Amy coming from you.

But what if it was coming from an investment banker or a hedge fund manager? That’s the way the public sees so-called “anthropomorphic global warming”. It is a way for the hedge funds and investment bankers who currently rule this planet to enslave the world to unsecured debt.

In 2000-1 during the height of the California energy crisis one of the biggest promoters of cap-and-trade was Enron, and when Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 opening the “Enron Loophole” this allowed unregulated unsecured “credit default swaps” to exceed six hundred trillion dollars worldwide today.

Close this Pandora’s Box and then talk to me about the UN and global warming.

Report this

By objective observer, December 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

D R Zing:

still not convinced, but many thanks for the thoughtful exchange.  it is refreshing to have dialog with an opposing view without name calling.

Report this
D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

Hi objective observer,

I appreciate your somewhat conciliatory tone at the end of your last
post.

Testing a theory generally involves establishing a hypothesis and
then conducting a series of controlled tests to prove it—or
disprove it as is frequently the case. 

I would suggest you conduct a test using your own body as the laboratory.
The test is simple:  Eat tuna each day for a year and see how you
feel.

If you feel great and your doctor says you’re in good health, fine.
Your theory is correct. The destruction of the ecosystem supporting
human life is a tortuous lie.  If, however, it is you who feel tortured,
you might want to rethink some of your ideas about the state of our
ecosystem.   

Regarding your conciliatory comment: “Humans will destroy ourselves
with war (declared on others and/or civil), disease and poverty loooong
before any climate change, weather, etc.” Well, I wouldn’t count on it. 

I have a friend who doesn’t have to put quotation marks around the
word theory because he uses it accurately.  He’s one of those
rare souls whose education in science at the finest universities in the
world was paid for in full up to the doctorate level by people who
believe he is a genius. 

He says overpopulation and depletion of resources will reach a
critical mass at or around 2050, at which point there will be mass
starvation and death from thirst. 

In other words, don’t count on war to save you, your children and
grandchildren from a slow agonizing death.  Quibble as you will
about global climate change, but pray for edification about the
destruction of the ecosystem. Consider those you love.  Hopefully
you will gain some sort of compassion and wisdom allowing you to
accept the truth with grace.

We’ve fouled the nest.  It’s time to clean it up.

All the best.

Zing.

Report this
David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, November 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

Pretending that the climate change caused by fossil-fuel dependent industrial economies is not happening, and therefore claiming that the catastrophic consequences of that human habitation hostile climate change will not occur is precipitant holocaust denial by malevolent holocaust enablers.

There is one, and only one part of the U.S. Government that is seriously preparing for the imminent chaos of catastrophic climate change… the Pentagon.

The wry tongued war historian, Gwynne Dyer, effectively articulated the gravity of the more rapidly evolving than generally perceived existential threat that climate change poses, because systems and people’s politics are not changing. Dyer provided a forewarning of eco-geopolitical events likely to occur in the near future — SOON — that will greatly affect everyone’s lives… while terminating the lives of many millions.

Listen carefully, and with an understanding that Dyer provided his December 2008 University of Toronto lecture and his January 2009 CBC broadcasts, (links below), just after Obama was installed, but before the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, at a time when the realist Dyer was cautiously optimistic that Obama might possibly not again do there what Gore did in Kyoto (nothing needed). Well, there’s clearly nothing upon which any realist can hang such misplaced optimism now. What didn’t get done in Copenhagen has made Dyer’s warnings much more dire.
____________________________

If you have iTunes you can listen to Dyer’s 71 minute lecture given at University of Toronto, on 12/08/2008, available at the iTunes Store:

Big Ideas (Audio)
Gwynne Dyer on global warming and his book Climate Wars
____________________________

A Video of Dyer’s 12/08/2008 University of Toronto lecture can also be browser viewed here:

http://podcasts.tvo.org/bi/video/BI_Lecture_20090509_834122_GwynneDyer_320x240_304k.mp4
____________________________

This expanded version (link below), which includes some of the experts Dyer interviewed, can be listened to directly with your browser.

Three part 3 hour January 2009 CBC Podcast of Gwynne Dyer’s Climate Wars:

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/features/2009/07/09/climate-wars-part-12-cd/
____________________________

Gwynne Dyer’s Bio:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwynne_Dyer

Report this

By objective observer, November 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

D R Zing:

as far as “human beings destroying the ecosystem supporting human life”, it is only “settled science” in those minds that are willing to accept biased studies.  torture the data long enough and it will confess to anything.  is there something going on?  sure.  is it human caused? possibly, but not convincingly. not enough evidence to destroy whole economic systems on a “theory”.

anyway, humans will destroy ourselves with war (declared on others and/or civil), disease and poverty loooong before any climate change, weather, etc.

Report this
D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Dear Objective Observer: 

Regarding your comment:

“for the record, i am a firm believer in climate change - ooo, it’s
getting colder, in a few months the climate will change again - ooo
it’s getting warmer…”

Here’s an objective observation.  You’re using the word clmate
incorrectly in the above quote.  The word you’re looking for is
weather, as in “in a few months the weather will change
again.”  See, sounds better doesn’t it?

Enough with the pedantic semantics and this absurd debate
about climate change. 

Human beings are destroying the ecosystem supporting human life. 

That’s a fact, my friend.

We’re poisoning the oceans, the air, the rivers, the lakes, the
soil. 

And do note the words “ecosystem supporting human life.” The earth
will not end.  The cockroaches will be fine. But life in the oceans
might end as we know it and bipedal hominids (the group you’re in)
might starve and die of thirst by the billions. 

But I guess we can always look on the bright side. Cockroaches are
roughly the genetic equivalent of shrimp. 

Grilled palmetto bugs anyone?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amerikanische_Großschabe_1.JPG

Enjoy the balmy weather.  For now.

Report this

By Sundance, November 30, 2011 at 11:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It has become a laughable situation when nominal journalists (Ms. Goodman isn’t the first) blame deaths from poorly constructed and retaining walls and located in flood plains on climate.

Building substandard housing in flood plains has and will continue to lead to deaths even with atmospheric CO2 at 200 PPM. This is already documented in several peer reviewed studies. Anti-science and unintelligent appeals to emotion will only convince unscientific unintelligent emotionally prone people. While that may be Ms. Goodman’s tactic to appeal to her readership they would be better served by reading the research of Professor Will Alexander an expert on climatology in Africa. The majority of weather/climate happenings in Africa are a direct result of drastic land use changes.

Kilimanjaro for example was used as an icon to blame fossil fuel use in wealthy countries for glacial melt on the summit. While that may have appealed to unscientific emotionally driven activist, scientists seeking truth discovered that land use in the form of deforrestation in the region around the Mountain was the cause of ice melt.

Past IPCC climate predictions such as more and greater hurricanes based on the same modeled conjecture as the claims of more extreme weather, have failed to emerge and revisions have had to be made. Uncertainties in the new IPCC climate summary are so large that the IPCC can’t even indicte if the temperature signal will be + or - over the next 3 decades. The IPCC temperature models are in danger of being falsified according to the parameter of 15 years of little or no surface warming established by the MET Office when they investigated the accuracy of the IPCC models in 2009. The HadCRUT3v temperature data (MET Office data) is now showing a slight cooling for the last 14.5 years and unless there is a .2 degC increase in HadCRUT3v temperature data by May of 2012 the IPCC climate models will have been falsified at the 95% level. The corruption of the IPCC is evident in several books detailing its corruption and reinforced by numerous emails now available for the public to read for themselves.

Report this

By balkas, November 30, 2011 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

i am not happy with goodman’s implied division of u.s ideology into two:
republican one and the other democratic.
or also implied division of u.s politicians into less and more evil when it comes to
applying u.s THOUGHT also to global warming [or any vital issue concerning what
u.s does]

u.s thought [ideology, on which u.s structure of governance is founded] is a
constant; it never ever even yaws for a second from its steady course let alone
changes it permanently; thus, splitting it asunder explicitly or tacitly represents a
deception.

the most basic thought in u.s ideology is that u.s must—no matter what costs to
environment or people and peoples—enjoy apsolute dominance of the planet and
master of poor people and all peoples on this planet.

however, since u.s basic thought is also shared by nearly all plutocrats of the
world, they strongly support u.s in all it does. tnx

Report this

By objective observer, November 30, 2011 at 9:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

little to non-existant evidence of “man-made” climate change.  those who blindly insist that humans are responsible refuse to consider that this may be a natural climate cycle. 

for the record, i am a firm believer in climate change - ooo, it’s getting colder, in a few months the climate will change again - ooo it’s getting warmer…

Report this
David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, November 30, 2011 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

QUOTE, Amy Goodman:

“Exacerbating Obama’s failures is the Republican majority in the House of Representatives that largely holds human-made climate change as being either a hoax or simply nonexistent”
___________________

In his secret meetings organization of a voluntary unenforceable climate change non-response to ensure that there will be no global responsible response to mitigate climate change, Obama did not fail. He was successful, in doing what the corporate party’s Democrats do.

When people rose up to oppose the resource wars, the corporate party’s Democrats MovedOn in to persuade people that the resource wars of aggression are “necessary” and “humanitarian” interventions.

When people rose up seeking a sane and sensible healthcare system, the corporate party’s Democrats MovedOn in to persuade people to settle for making the SickCare system even sicker, mandating greater private profits from more denial of public healthcare.

While their Republican partners provide a theater of distraction, pretending that climate change is not a problem, the corporate party’s devious Democrats are MovingOn in to provide Goldman Sachs and other international banksters a market to profit from bundling pollution swaps… while the glaciers all disappear and massive amounts of methane are escaping from the defrosting permafrost.

Whenever the global market state needs greater evil accomplished well, it MovesOn in to install the corporate party’s “Best & Brightest” Democrats to get the job done… without fail.

Jill Stein for President:

http://www.jillstein.org

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=498&Itemid=1

Report this
D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, November 30, 2011 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

Yes. It shows how far behind we are that the issue of climate change
and what to do about it is up for debate. 

We are destroying the ecosystem supporting human life.

Our population growth is wildly out of control.

“A hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, November 30, 2011 at 4:00 am Link to this comment

I think we all know by now that the Obama administration has no interest in revisiting or even acknowledging the Kyoto treaty.

It is up to us.

Go ahead, tell me how important it is to keep voting for corporatist democrats. I am all ears.

Report this

By Dr Bones, November 29, 2011 at 9:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Man is not in control of nature. Human will die off in epic proportion due to his destruction of the life sustaining planet.

Report this
Jack Phast's avatar

By Jack Phast, November 29, 2011 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

It should be clear to us that our elected officials
aren’t going to do anything about this problem - they
are far too reliant on the big polluters for political
support and far too cowardly to make propose any real
solutions.

Why do we keep electing these fools that we know are
going to let us down on these issues that are too
important to fail?

Report this

By gerard, November 29, 2011 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

As we are having a worldwide invigorating turn toward nonviolent political changes, may we also have the additional good fortune to have a change among the consumers of vast amounts of fossil fuels that moves us energetically toward immediate measures of meaningful control and common sense. There is no more time for nonsense, denial and corporate one-ups-man-ship.

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