On Climate Crises and Lasers

Well, the global climate change summit in Bali has drawn to a close.

Approaching the end, it seemed like delegates would leave the summit with nothing but a tan and a bunch of free pina coladas. The United States continually roadblocked efforts to set tangible emissions standards, citing concerns that China, India, and other developing countries are not making the commitments demanded of the US. But in the final hour, after being hissed at and booed by fellow delegates, we finally capitulated a wee tad. After talking it out, everybody decided it would be a grand old time if… they all talked some more! Two years of talks, to be precise. This from a wonderful round-up of the conference by the NY Times (found here),

The resulting “Bali Action Plan” contains no binding commitments, which European countries had sought and the United States fended off. The plan concludes that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required” and provides a timetable for two years of talks to shape the first formal addendum to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty since the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago. 

At first glance, this seems to be dissapointing, non-binding politico-speak leaving us right where we are now. But considering that the Bush Administration has until now entirely denied the need for new climate policy from fifteen years ago, it represents a pretty big shift. And, as Al Gore pointed out when he accepted his Nobel Prize, the next administration is more apt to realize we’re plunging the world to its doom. (Get that story here.) In two years, we’ll have that new government. US negotiators certainly wheeled and dealed and pushed off the issue with another series of non-binding commitments. But maybe – just maybe – a new Administraton will make something real out of these post-Bali talks.

At least one of our presidents sees the urgent need for a stricter energy policy – Brandeis’ President Jehuda Reinharz. We have signed onto the Presidents Climate Commitment, a commitment to form a plan for universities to go climate-neutral. I encourage you to check it out here. Other area schools Harvard, Yale, Tufts, BU, Brown, and M.I.T have all not signed.

An interesting side-note – we spend more developing laser weaponry to fry the world than we do on researching renewable energy sources to keep it from frying. Take the recent mounting of a 12,000-lb laser on a 747 as an example of our twisted priorities.

More on what we as Brandeis students can do on climate change to come.  


5 thoughts on “On Climate Crises and Lasers”

  1. Arthur, although I cannot directly speak to the facts that you discuss regarding climate change, I do have to say that it sounds a lot like what I hear coming from the mainstream media. After finals are over, when you have free time to spend doing random shit on the internet, I encourage you to follow this link to a video made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the media reporting on the global warming debate: http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/denialmachine/index.html.

    To summarize for anyone who doesn’t want to watch the lengthy video that some random brandeis kid is posting, the same scientists who were hired by tobacco companies to argue the effects of cigarettes, are now being hired by oil companies to argue that global warming isn’t taking place. No Artur, I am not saying that you are also taking that position since you expressly said that you are not, but I hope that everyone will reconsider what you hear from the mainstream media about climate change (a term concocted by the bush admin. to replace global warming) based on the information provided in this video.

  2. Arthur –

    Unfortunately, the time for a “middle ground” of action and slow-moving steps to determine human contribution to global warming has passed. Time and time again, scientific studies have shown that human impact on climate change is not only significant, but approaching terribly dangerous levels where our damage will be permanently irreversible.

    You say

    I propose we be not too overly concerned with cutting fossil fuel usage excessively.

    In fact, a recent study using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that

    even if the established industrial powers turned off every power plant and car right now, unless there are changes in policy in poorer countries the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could still reach 450 parts per million — a level deemed unacceptably dangerous by many scientists — by 2070. (If no one does anything, that threshold is reached in 2040.)

    So no, we cannot proceed with moderation. We must radically shift our energy dependence to renewable sources, beginning now. You say this is not economically feasible – but with enough energy research and penalties for emissions, it will become so. A necessary proposal for a tenfold funding increase on research into reneweable energy has recently been endorsed by tons of preeminent experts, check out that story here.

  3. Wow, Sahar, I am so glad to see this blog come to fruition. If you remember, when you first proposed it on the ’11 class facebook, I said I’d love to be a part of it. Perhaps instead of being a formal contributor, I can drop in and make witty counter-points. 😛
    It’s no huge secret this administration isn’t the most eco-prioritized, but we cannot ignore that labeling America itself as a proponent of environmental damage is inaccurate. We’ve plenty of dedicated citizens such as yourself who promote an environmental conscience, if you’ll call it that, and that can’t be ignored. Furthermore, this area is a slippery slope. It is not secret carbon dioxide, NOx and other gases are greenhouse insulators, and the wastes of combustion. However, we must be careful in drawing conclusions as to the extent of global warming, and the extent to which we as humans contribute. That is not to say, however, we have no problem on our hands. I propose we be not too overly concerned with cutting fossil fuel usage excessively (keyword excessively, I am as big a proponent as any of cutting down SUV sales, although I am not sold on hybrids) and simply look to the future. Whether it’s 100% electric (which carries some distinct disadvanes) or organic-fuel burning cars (much much better in many respects), we need to to look to the future, and let fossil fuels run their course. Again, not run their course dirty and rampant, but in a comfortable middle ground that is not economically hampering.

  4. it could just be my computer, which is acting up again. or it could be that none of the links inside the posts, including “read more” from the previous posts, are actual links…?

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