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« The Dark Morality of Politics | Main

Goodbye Gopenhagen

On the front page of The Guardian today there is a story that seems like a game changer to me. Fiona Harvey reports that some of the rich nations have decided to put off any climate treaty until 2020. In other words, until it is too late. She writes:

After the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 ended amid scenes of chaos, governments pledged to try to sign a new treaty in 2012. The date is critical, because next year marks the expiry of the current provisions of the Kyoto protocol, the only legally binding international agreement to limit emissions. UK, European Union, Japan, US and other rich nations are all now united in opting to put off an agreement and the United Nations also appears to accept this.

I’m not sure why this seems so significant to me given that it there has been little indication that the politicians and policy makers would or could come to some meaningful agreement before the door shuts on the hope of keeping the world’s temperature below 2c. I suspect that when everything goes to hell history books may not be a major priority, but if there are such books and people actually read them, I hope they name and blame. It won’t do any good since the damage will have been done somewhere in the middle or end of this decade. But it seems somehow just. The United States is particularly guilty, though it is certainly not the only offender. However, it’s political system is dysfunctional to the point of being frozen. The politicians seem incapable of reaching decisions. And in a two party system where one of the parties considers compromise as giving in, not to a worthy opponent, but to an almost evil adversary, there is little hope that politics will make progress on the great issues we face (See The Republican Days of Wrath). The Republican party has moved so far to the right and is comprised of religious fundamentalists, rightwing ideologues and people who are actually delusional and ill-informed. As Gary Younge, also in today’s Guardian, said speaking of the Republican Party:

Polls last year showed a majority of Republicans believed Obama was a Muslim and a socialist who "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government"; two-thirds either believed or were not sure if the president is "a racist who hates white people", and over half believed or were not sure if "he was not born in the US" and "wants the terrorists to win".

Never mind that the Ground Zero mosque was neither a mosque nor situated at Ground Zero, or that the foreign-born Muslim Obama is actually an American-born Christian. Facts didn't matter. So nor did lies.

For the past three years making bizarre, false, inflammatory statements was not regarded as an obstacle to being taken seriously within the party but a prerequisite for it.

The party and its leaders will never allow the United States to take even mild measures to counter climate change, and the Democrats are not able, or perhaps not willing, to make the case for the radical changes that are necessary.

In the United Kingdom when David Cameron campaigned in the last election saying the UK government would be the “greenest every.” Though he and his Tories lost the election, they nonetheless govern (with the help of the third place losers the Liberal Democrats) as if they had won a landslide victory the likes that has never been seen in British history. And, things looked good, look green, at first. A lot of policy talk about green issues. Unfortunately, day after day one initiative after another is being axed. Such is life in the land of the Great Cuts.

All this reminds me I am glad I never had children. If I had, I would now be losing sleep worrying about their children.


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