Sunday, December 05, 2010

Baird's Cancun Position: "All Oars in Water -- Except for Canada's"

John Baird, notorious for his anti-Kyoto antics, is at it again. According to the Globe, the
"...Environment Minister says Canada will be pressing for an approach that leaves no one out, that demands all 'oars in the water'...."
But Canada is in no position to lecture anybody about "oars in water". Having promised to reduce carbon emissions in Kyoto and done nothing about it since then (actually increasing emissions significantly), Canada would have very little credibility when trying to convince other countries to "do as we say but not as we do".

Moreover, since the Industrial Revolution, the rich, industrialized countries like Canada have emitted most of the carbon. Much of it is still in the atmosphere, harming the climate. The fact that countries like China and India have become major emitters on an annual basis recently is not nearly as significant as Baird and Co. would have you think. Even setting aside their much lower emissions per capita, it would be many years before China's and India's share of the accumulating carbon in the air equals that of countries that had been at it for centuries. Confusing flows (annual emissions) with stocks (accumulated pollutants) is such a basic, blatant error that it is clearly nothing more than an excuse for further inaction.

Insisting on this unreasonable position is a sure way to sabotage progress at Cancun -- developing nations are already warning that the talks are in danger. Nothing would please the fossil fuel special interest groups than the collapse of negotiations for at least one more year. For the planet, on the other hand it is total accumulated carbon that matters.

Dr. James Hansen states that

"...we must reduce the [accumulated] CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 ppm in order to avoid disaster for coming generations.
"Humans have caused carbon dioxide to increase from 280 ppm in 1750 to 387 ppm in 2009. 387 ppm is already in the dangerous range. Such a reduction is still practical, but just barely [bolding in original]"

He also warns that

"Continued unfettered burning of all fossil fuels and other human-caused climate changes will cause the climate system to pass tipping points, such that we hand our children and grandchildren a dynamic situation that is out of their control.

"If we continue down this path, by the end of this century envision a future where:

• droughts, heat waves, and forest fires of unprecedented ferocity

• 20% of Earth’s species—about two million species—will be extinct or on the way to certain extinction

• a rapidly rising sea level, with more coming out of humanity’s control

• frontal (cyclonic) storms with hurricane-like winds, which, with rising seas and storm surges, will devastate thousands of coastal cities

But that does not have to be our future [bolding in original]."

We must act now. Obstructionism must not carry the day.

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