Let's Get Back on TrackExtracting billions of tons of carbon from the Earth's crust and dumping them in the atmosphere is a very dangerous experiment, and we can't afford to mess like that with our only life-support system. But unfortunately, dealing with this issue is a classic case of tragedy of the commons. That's why it's so important to figure out a way to break the logjam, ideally with a carbon tax that would then allow market forces to figure out the best ways to decarbonize our civilization (the carbon tax could even be revenue neutral, with equivalent cuts in other taxes).
Although not always effective in their actions, European nations have provided leadership on the fight against global warming so far, but sadly, they now appear to be dropping the ball. The economic crisis seems to have monopolized all attention and the climate has fallen by the wayside.
EU leaders didn’t discuss climate strategy at their four summits this year, while France, Germany, Spain and Britain are focused on paring the region’s 10.5 percent unemployment rate and 10.8 trillion euros ($13.9 trillion) in debt. The matter didn’t emerge during U.S. presidential debates.
“What scares me is that climate policy is sliding off the international policy agenda,” International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol said in an interview (source)
This inaction is a stark contrast with what climate scientists are saying: "Sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its lowest on record this summer as drought devastated corn crops in the U.S. Midwest and superstorm Sandy pummeled the East coast after becoming the largest ever tropical system in the Atlantic. The World Meteorological Organization says greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere touched a high in 2011, and the UN says that will make the weather more volatile."
I'm not saying that dealing with Europe's economic woes isn't important, just that we shouldn't look so much at the short-term that we forget issues that will affect billions of people and all species on Earth for generations to come. Let's get serious about dealing with climate change.