Image: Flickr, saschapohflepp
As I sift through themes for a post today, two events on the world stage dominate my thoughts. First, experts and activists and world leaders meeting in Copenhagen will start talks tomorrow; a meeting once projected to produce a conclusive path forward is now anticipated to be just more talk on the long path to action. Second, by coincidence, we are in Perugia this weekend, visiting friends. The media circus around the Amanda Knox case cannot be ignored here.
With thoughts of the fate of the world and the future of this one young American woman (as well as the British woman without a future and two young men) swirling through my head, every other topic on my desk seems too trivial for consideration. Yes, each bit of information, each person educated on this site, each product or service that supports more sustainable lifestyles is important. But I cannot stop the train of thought: at what point does everything go wrong? At what point does one realize that mistakes have been made? Who can be blamed?
If we could see the consequences of our actions, all decisions would be easier. Amanda Knox surely did not anticipate the outcome of the path she started down. Now she may not see her homeland for 26 years. 26 years from today it will be the year 2035. If we could know now what things will look like in 2035 now, how would it change our progress along the path of which Copenhagen is one more step? With that thought in mind, here are some items Amanda Knox might notice in 2035 which start at Copenhagen's doorstep.In case of success in Copenhagen:
1) The city of Copenhagen will be carbon neutral if the ambitious goals of the Copenhagen Climate Plan designed by the host of the Climate Summit are realized.
2) If Copenhagen succeeds, the world will be emitting 25-40 % less greenhouse gas relative to 1990 levels, to keep global warming under the 2 degree limit scientists consider critical to avoiding dangerous tipping points in climate change consequences.
In case Copenhagen delays lead to failure in climate control:
1) An ice-free polar cap in the warm season could occur as early as 2013 according to current research.
2) Nations will be spending a fifth of GDP for climate change costs.
3) Falling crop yields, scarce water, sea level rise and other effects will change world maps.
4) Growing ocean dead zones will make headlines routinely.
5) The Everest and Himalayan glaciers will exist only in books.
6) Climate change winners and losers will begin to become evident:
- If a post-oil world is not achieved, "major exporters such as Russia and Iran will substantially augment their levels of national power."
- Canada may be a global climate change winner, with greater access to polar waters and the "resource-rich Hudson Bay."
- The northerly shifting greenbelt will leave the USA with desirable lands, but Russia will benefit even more greatly as rich soils with nutrients protected by permafrost become arable lands.
- Low lying places such as Bangladesh and Island habitats will suffer from rising seas
7) Hundreds of millions of ecological refugees will be challenging the ability of "winner" nations to integrate the people fleeing from the damaging effects of global warming.
What Do You Want to See in 2035?
In the case of climate change, there are many scientists peering into the crystal ball. The predictions may conflict at times, but there is no uncertainty about a single fact: mankind needs to change to sustainable behavior. We may make mis-steps in how to get there: for example, is cap and trade the best control mechanism? But get there we must. Because in spite of how Amanda Knox might feel about it, 26 years is not that long into the future. And the decisions we make today will continue to influence the trends for centuries.
More on Effects of Climate Change:
Arctic: Ice-Free by 2013?
Climate Change Could Cost Nations 19% of GDP by 2030: New Report
Climate Change Causing Ocean Dead Zones to Grow
Climate Change Impact World Map Unveiled