The Curmudgeon


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drowning Out

Some little brown folks have made a bit of a gaffe at Copenhagen. Tuvalu, formerly part of the British Empire and now just a few expendable islands somewhere in the Pacific, has formally proposed "a new, strengthened and legally binding agreement that would set more ambitious targets than what is presently being proposed" by those nations whose proposals the Guardian's environment correspondent considers worthy of the name. Since Barack Obama was off somewhere saying some things while accepting a prize for saying some things, it was left to China and India to argue against the idea. More than half of the countries in the world say they will not sign up to a deal which allows temperatures to rise more than one and a half degrees; the major economies and Britain would prefer a target of two degrees, presumably because that will make smaller and more politically defensible the margin by which they eventually miss it. A target of one and a half degrees would mean stabilising the amount of carbon in the atmosphere at about three hundred and fifty parts per million; this in turn would mean actually reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from present levels, as opposed to merely increasing it slowly enough for future administrations to be blamed for the consequences. The Guardian's environment correspondent is careful to note categorically that "no technology currently exists to feasibly remove CO2 from the atmosphere on a large scale", although mere current nonexistence has not prevented the present British government from taking advantage of technologies for the large-scale use of clean coal and sustainable uranium.


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