Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Scream

We're watching the impact of global climate change in the northern hemisphere this year, and the consequences of it are frightening. Looking to the future, its impact is going to increase dramatically, leaving the next generation with little to live for. Prof Sir Bob Watson says that any hope of restricting the average temperature rise to 2C is "out the window". He said that the rise could be as high as 5C - with dire consequences for all of us.

As of right now, each country's share of global carbon emissions in 2008 data represents millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions that show no sign of abating. This chart and other resources is from the Union of Concerned Scientists. What is keeping us trapped here? Some of it is the dynamics of US and global power structures.

An excerpt from mi2g, an information storage and management company that pioneers global risk management practices and technology applications lays it out:

It should be kept in mind that the Kyoto Accord taught President Clinton, and the rest of the world as well, that no US President has the power to negotiate and approve an agreement that would have the effect of changing US laws and circumscribing the authority of Congress. When Vice President Gore flew to Kyoto to consummate an environmental agreement the initial news throughout the world was that an historic breakthrough in global cooperation had been achieved. Instead, the Congress reacted by advising President Clinton that he should not seek Senate approval.

At the time of Congressional inaction on the Kyoto Accord, much blame was assigned to the reluctance of countries like China and India to participate. Congressional politicians argued that the US could not limit its own economy when other major world polluters were free to continue without restraint. Frankly, this was a convenient excuse for Congressional reluctance to act, but it was not the only reason for inaction. This rejection was not simply a matter of Republican reluctance. The “Blue” Democratic states of the US industrial heartland and Democrats in the states mining coal and producing oil and gas could not accept that accord. An open vote would have become a huge political embarrassment to President Clinton as well as to Vice President Gore. In subsequent years, President George W Bush received the same advice from Senate leaders, so he simply avoided addressing the Kyoto accord in the same way as President Clinton had done, by ignoring it.

And with respect to the top-level corporate systems which brought the global investment banking system to its knees, and which are in control of Congress, we have a report from the IFG:

The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) released a special report on Dec. 6, 2011, “Outing the Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit From Today’s Climate Crisis,” which identifies the world’s top 50 individuals whose investments benefit from climate change and whose influence networks block efforts to phase out pollution from fossil fuels.Little information has been publicly available about the identities of the industrialists, investors and ideologues who are most responsible for the decisions over carbon-intensive activities that drive greenhouse gas emissions far past danger levels.IFG’s new report brings this information to light. The task of calculating carbon decision-making footprints is highly complex. However, IFG’s new study is an initial step in what will be a longer-term initiative of analyzing the roles played by the planet’s worst carbon culprits and how they fund sophisticated influence networks over almost all aspects of government policymaking, especially energy.

The online previews are here.

And the dirty little political backstory is here.