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question of the weekend: The Copenhagen climate summit fails — how screwed are we?

Here’s one reason why I’ve been so depressed this week: The Copenhagen climate summit has been a disaster since the beginning, and yesterday it ended in an “agreement” that is nothing more than mealy-mouthed bullshit that won’t do a damn thing to reign in CO2 emission and, at best, puts off any action for years. The “agreement” sets no goals or deadlines on emissions and makes no provisions for doing so.

Guardian climate writer George Monbiot summarized it well:

Even before this new farce began it was starting to look as if it might be too late to prevent two or more degrees of global warming. The nation states, pursuing their own interests, have each been passing the parcel of responsibility since they decided to take action in 1992.

We have now lost 17 precious years; possibly the only years in which climate breakdown could have been prevented. This has not happened by accident: it is the result of a systematic campaign of sabotage by certain states, which has been driven and promoted by the energy industries. This idiocy has been aided and abetted by the nations characterised, until now, as the good guys: those which have made firm commitments, only to invalidate them with loopholes, false accounting and outsourcing. In all cases immediate self-interest has trumped the long-term welfare of humankind. Corporate profits and political expediency have proved to be more urgent concerns than either the natural world or human civilisation. Our political systems are incapable of discharging the main function of government: to protect us from each other.

Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest; it was nice knowing you, not that we really cared. The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.

(Emphasis mine.)

Now, two degrees Celsius of warming will be disastrous; more will be beyond catastrophic:

To point out the obvious: we are now in the yellow arrow, because action will not be taken in 2010.

And to belabor a point: please check out this page at Climate Progress, which summarizes the hell we are in for, and includes numerous links to many scientifically valid evidence and explanations of just how bad it’s going to be.

So, sorry to be a bummer, but here’s the question of the weekend: How fucked are we? Many people reading this can expect to be alive 50 years from now — I may well be (I’d be 90, but that’s not totally unreasonable). Many people reading this know and love children today who will still be alive in 50 years. What is the world going to look like then, for us and for them, either politically or culturally or geographically? Where would you move to escape the worst ravages of global warming? (I’ve heard suggestions that the Pacific Northwest may be in the best position, not just geographically but politically and culturally, to weather it, so to speak.)

Oh, and please ignore comments from global warming deniers: I’ll delete such comments, and there’s no reason to engage these people. If you’re tempted yourself to post a denialist comment, and you’ve got something that hasn’t already been readily shown to be bullshit — that is, you’ve got actual scientific evidence that global warming isn’t happening, and/or that it has nothing to do with human activity — then, my god, man, why on Earth are you posting it at a movie-review site in a weekend post designed merely to build a bit of community spirit and let regular readers get to know one another a little more? You’ve got the scoop of the century, and you should be approaching peer-reviewed journals and major science magazines. Imagine what wonderful news it would be if we could prove, beyond reasonable scientific doubt, that we’re not fucked! You know, kinda like all the honest science we have today says we are. (And no, deniers are not skeptics in the sense that the scientific method relies on skepticism.)

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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