Saturday, August 22, 2009


As the year inches closer and closer to its' close, environmentalists are becoming more and more interest in December, the freezing Danish capital of Copenhagen. No, it's not because of Christmas, but because world leaders meet yet again under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. With the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire in 2012, widely regarded as insufficient, many regard Copenhagen's outcome as our last shot to save Earth from global warming.

There are three main aspects that Copenhagen must include, aside from a strong opposition io the usual whining from developed nations about the economy and costs. The first is standard: the reduction of emissions, which must now be more drastic, especially when compared to the paltry 7% required under the Kyoto Protocol. Princeton Researchers Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala say that to hold CO2 levels at 450 parts per million ,global emissions must be slashed 50% (or 12 billion metric tons) by 2057. Developing countries, previously "encouraged to develop sustainably", must now be given targets of their own that would allow for sufficient modernization: for example, as a developed country, country X must only emit 20% more CO2 than it did as a developing nation.

Secondly, any agreement reached in Copenhagen must include mandates for restoration of destroyed environments, which have resulted in irresponsibly high CO2 emission: e.g. deforestation via slash and burn. Restoration of such areas would also increase our environment's capacity to offset emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide and filtering the air for other pollutants. The restoration of such areas would provide a host of other benefits beyond emissions reductions, like wildlife habitats, improved soil quality, eco- tourism, and proliferation of water catchment areas.

Lastly, Copenhagen must become a launch pad for a complete shift in human mentality, a beginning for the greater realisation that man is merely a strand in the web of life. True, such a drastic paradigm shift will require far more than a treaty, and here is where Copenhagen's outcome is likeliest to fail, and failure here would be the worst of all. This is because if we fail here, then the perception that man should only preserve Earth for his own sake will begin to take root ("shallow" ecology over deep ecology) . This, in future,could cause a backtrack in genuine green efforts and a beginning in merely avoiding the effects of global warming, such as geoengineering. A treaty, however, could make it mandatory for participating countries to begin massive media campaigns to educate the public about going green.

These are my hopes, and also the hopes of all who really wish for an end to man's arrogance towards the environment. May our politicians turn Copenhagen from a frigid capital to a battlefield of victory for Earth, and not a boulevard of broken dreams.

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