With the holiday season well underway, and a multitude of parties to attend, and movies about sparkly teenage vampires to rank out, and all sorts of distractions to occupy our thoughts, it’s easy to forget that important science-related stuff is still going on.
Ten thousandÂ representatives are in Poznan, Poland this week for the second of three global gatherings organized to hammer out a climate change accord thatÂ the delegatesÂ hope will improve on the less-than-successful Kyoto accord. Hosted by one of the most coal-intensive economies in the world, the Poznan meetingÂ will focus on anÂ agreementÂ for reducing greenhouse gases.
Unfortunately, it seems that other important world events mayÂ impact the outcome of the conference, just like all the external events are impacting our attention here on Skepchick.Â Considering theÂ exploding economy,Â the U.S. presidential handoff, terrorists, rebels, and pirates in Asia and the Middle East, are such pressing issues, it’s not surprising if the worldâ€™s attentionsÂ are turned elsewhere.
Not only that, but external world events may impact the logistics of initiating any plans or programs formulated at the conference. It may even be impossible to implement some of the better ideas.
For example, the financial meltdown, which is arguably theÂ most pressing story,Â could haveÂ a profound effect on the Poznan meeting.Â Says Yvo de Boer, head of the UNâ€™s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):
â€œThe financial crisis will have an impact on climate change. You already are seeing around the world a number of wind-energy projects being pushed back.”
Now as you might know, the US, India, and China all failed to adopt the Kyoto accord. None of the top greenhouse gas-producing nations has made any significant strides in climate change policy. (By some measures, China may have already passed the US as the worldâ€™s largest greenhouse emitter.) The Bush administration has been widely criticized for its failure to act, and in Poznan, the US has come under fire yet again.
Of course, president-electÂ Barrack Obama has promisedÂ a target of 80 percent greenhouse-gas reductions by mid-century. But that, in large part, assumes a stable economy and a lessÂ tumultuous world stage. Can Obama, and successive presidents, deliver on what amounts to a wholesale change in our energy strategy? And will China and India play along?
And even if they are willing, will they be able to make significant change with so many other pressing issues to address?
I suppose we’ll just have to stay tuned to see.