Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Global Warming And Expanding Waistlines

I remember, as a child, the optimism and enthusiasm that even made its way to my juvenile consciousness during the first Earth Summit in Rio 15 years ago. The Cold War was over, the Berlin Wall had fallen and all the nations would go forward together, hand in hand, towards a brighter future. Even back then there was a consensus amongst scientists that global warming was being influenced by human activity and that if nothing was done soon then it would have catastrophic consequences on the global climate. Fast forward to the present day and things have advanced painfully slowly since then, with the present Bali summit producing a watered down agreement, which, as it stands, is far too little far too late to be able to stem the climate change flood. It's particularly galling to me that the stumbling block should be the United States. here's a country that calls itself, with some pride, the Leader of the Free World. Every year its government trumpets reports of human rights abuses throughout the world and bemoans the lack of democracy, going so far as to wage a war for the spread of it (amongst many other reasons, depending on the time of day they are talking). Yet when the moment arrives for true leadership, for difficult, painful choices being made, for sacrifice the bravado turns to selfishness, intransigence and sheer bloody-mindedness.

It had become ever harder to deny either the scientific or the democratic arguments (the latter being the fact that the majority of countries of the world wanted and were willing to make sacrifices to fight climate change) and so the barrel was well and truly scraped to find less and less convincing arguments. The economic: we won't be able to have things as cheaply as before and some people might lose a few jobs. True as it might be, the costs of allowing climate change to go on unchecked would be far greater still, and most likely in ways that we cannot foresee. Also, if America's direct competitors (other developed countries) were to sign up to the same commitments then the trade playing field would still be level. But, counter the Americans, what about China and India and other devloping countries who are also polluting. Those sneeky Chinese are now polluting as much as we are! Blithely ignoring the fact that there are four times as many Chinese and that they haven't been polluting nearly as much much nearly as long as them. Apparently the aspiration of having a better quality of life and all the comforts of modern living is only for the West and developing countries are only to have a role as factories for our cheap goods.

Luckily even their bare-faced conceit couldn't stop a final agreement being reached, however toothless it may be. It's a shame that it has turned out like this as this was a golden opportunity for the Americans to restore their damaged international reputation and regain the moral high ground. Unfortunately, as far as I can see, I am very pessimistic about our long-term ability to maintain the planet as it is. That's not to say that all life will die, because Mother Nature has a boundless ability to adapt to new circumstances, but we will lose the beauty and diversity that is there now. Forever.

What, however, is perhaps more worrying for the world, is that I have now unearthed a good number of my old clothes and I am finding that I no longer fit into my old trousers. For years I had a constant 30" waist and weighed around 62kg, and now I've suddenly realised that I've eaten my way up to a 32" paunch and I tip the scales at the wrong end of 68kg. I'm afraid of not only becoming a sedentary slob like my brother (a good way of testing to see whether he's actually reading this), but that I might also have to buy new clothes - an idea which fills me with dread, not just because it's another expense, but because I seriously dislike the whole shopping experience (clothes in particular) and am suddenly realising that I still need to get my Christmas shopping done. Aaarrggghhh!


Ex-Shammickite said...

Well? Did he read it? Your brother I mean.
Have you noticed that we don't hear "global warming" bandied about any more, today's correct version is "climate change". It doersn't seem quite so drastic.
USA likes to think of itself as a leader in world politics and strategies, but it has a lot to learn about really making a difference to the world. Unless of course you want a war, it's really good at that.

Ex-Shammickite said...

Thanks for your good wishes Erik!
It's Christmas Day here in Canada, the sky is grey, and the sun is hiding behind the clouds. It's cold and there are remnants of last weeks snowstorm still on the ground, making it a rather muddy white Christmas. But it's a lovely day, and I wish you and your family all the best, and may 2008 be a good year for you.