Commentary No. 205, Mar. 15, 2007
"Climate Disasters: Three Obstacles to Doing Anything"
Scientists have been warning us about the dangers of human-caused transformations of the earth's climate for about fifty years now. But in the last two to three years, there have been two important changes in the situation. First, there have been a series of very authoritative reports by different scientific groups, which assert not merely that these dangers are real but that they are occurring at a pace far faster than scientists believed even five years ago. As Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said recently, "It's not five minutes to midnight; it's five minutes after midnight."
The second change is the degree to which these changes have become visible to ordinary people. There has been the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. There has been the increase in the frequency and ferocity of hurricanes in the Caribbean, culminating in the notable disaster of Katrina. Pictures of the break-up of ice zones in the Arctic have been widespread in the press. And this year, the meteorologists in London who have been measuring temperatures for over three centuries announced that this was London's warmest winter since they have been measuring. The counterpart of the warm weather in Europe has been the tornados and other wind-driven disasters elsewhere.
So, why is so little being done? It is clearly not for lack of awareness of the problem, however much some persons try to deny its existence. Yet, the degree to which the political leaders of the world are ready to do something about it, and indeed the degree to which there is public pressure that they do something, is remarkably low. When there is such a clear disjunction between knowledge and action, there must be obstacles in the socio-political arena to explain this. In fact, there are three quite powerful obstacles to action: the interests of producers/entrepreneurs, the interests of less wealthy nations, and the attitudes of you and me. Each is a powerful obstacle.
Artículo completo en: http://fbc.binghamton.edu/205en.htm
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