Tuesday, November 24, 2015

20 Days to Save the World

While Americans gear up for three big holidays (Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday), world leaders, diplomats and climate experts prepare to go to Paris for the fateful Climate Change Conference.

Paris is still on guard after the terrorist attack, nearby Belgium is in its third day of a remarkable national lockdown, and the U.S. State Department has just issued a worldwide travel alert, anticipating attempted terrorist acts.

But President Obama has made it clear he's going to Paris for the conference opening on November 30.  137 other world leaders will also attend--of all who were invited, exactly none have cancelled.

Things are different however for various activist groups that planned marches and demonstrations supporting a meaningful agreement to address the climate crisis.  All such activities have been banned by the French government because of the terrorist possibility.  They'll have their hands full protecting the conference itself.

Some activist groups first said they would defy the ban, and there may be some activism from within the country, but the established international organizations have since decided to obey it.  Bill McKibben, speaking for .350, emailed supporters with the message: Next weekend, when we would have been marching in Paris, we need everyone who is not there marching everywhere else. It’s going to be a test of our nimbleness. Already there are more than 2,000 rallies scheduled around the world...The problem is global warming, we have a global movement, and now we need to show it."

Meanwhile, the only political party in the world to deny the need to address the climate crisis continues to try to undermine President Obama's efforts, and therefore his credibility with world leaders.

They do so in the face of mounting evidence that the climate crisis is underway, and among other things is causing destruction, economic and social devastation, injury and death, and making life worse especially for the non-rich, and most especially for the poor.

A new UN report out today shows that in the past 20 years, the United States has had the highest number of weather-related disasters in the world.  These disasters happened twice as often as in the decade before.  There are an average of 335 such disasters worldwide--every year.

The numbers are huge: weather-related disasters killed some 600,000 worldwide, and injured more than four billion others.  The economic losses were more than 2 trillion dollars.  Weather events accounted for 90% of all disasters, and they are increasing.  Said the report:

"While scientists cannot calculate what percentage of this rise is due to climate change, predictions of more extreme weather in future almost certainly mean that we will witness a continued upward trend in weather-related disasters in the decades ahead," the report said.

Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the U.N. disaster office, and Debarati Guha-Sapir, a professor at the Louvain center, said the report's findings "underline why it is so important that a new climate change agreement emerges" from a crucial meeting of the world's governments in Paris in December.

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