July 12, 2009 – The members of G8 say they are all on board to make dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The members of G18 are nowhere near as enthusiastic, for obvious – although, at this point, shopworn – reasons. I think there is cause to rejoice and there is cause
to worry. Cause to rejoice in that the United States has finally assumed a leadership role in confronting the issue of global climate change. This is what the rest of the world has long awaited. If we can believe President Obama, he has little interest in half measures. The time to act is now, by employing a head-on approach. For this we can all take a moment to be grateful. It is the job of every American to hold the President and his administration accountable.
Cause to worry because China and India, members of the G18, are not in any hurry to crack down on polluters. Their argument is well known: they’ve just begun to develop economically, and want time for development’s effects to create a stable middle class in each country. Were time not so very much of the essence, it would be a reasonable argument. Because the entire world’s future hangs in the balance, the actions of these two countries with regard to climate change could well bring about Armageddon.
How on earth are these two points of view to be reconciled? Do we tell China and India, “Ok, you have until 2020 to pillage and loot your natural resources, but after that, the party’s over?” How can anyone say that, in good conscience? They need to stop now! However, I can’t imagine that ANY kind of limitations on their capacity to mine what’s left of their natural resources would sit well; after all, the United States has been acting like there’s no tomorrow for 200 hundred years in our mindless quest for booty – some would say longer. We suffer, among other things, from a dire lack of role models.
Here, then, are some thoughts for consideration:
- every country in the world must be subject to the same regulations
- the regulations invoked must be put in place immediately, with a gradual decrease in environmental damage the end result, down to an agreed-upon level
- rich countries must help poor countries with the simplest and most
cost-effective help available
- representatives of all nations will meet on an ongoing basis in order to address climate change in all its varied aspects
- the idea of a sabbatical year for the earth will be discussed at these meetings
Goodness knows, we’ve got a long row to hoe. Better get started.