If We Can’t Slow Climate Change, Who’s Responsible?

There are two important points I want to highlight in this wide-release editorial on the Copenhagen summit. One is the stakes:

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.

And the second point is in the very next paragraph, about the policy choke points:

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

In other words, what happens in our legislative branch is crucial. If we fail, then all of us will be at fault, although some will hold a larger share of the blame than others. And perhaps the largest share will go to a bipartisan coalition of denialists and obstructionists in Congress, from Inhofe to Webb. If we can’t pressure them into putting aside shameless pandering to coal state constituents and massive corporations, then, well, see the first blockquoted paragraph.

Do they want to go down in history as the primary obstacle to an attempt at preventing global disaster? If I were Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, that’s what I’d be asking them both in public and private right now.

(Via Ben Daniels)

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