(by John Zarocosta, WashingtonTimes.com) DAVOS, Switzerland — The world’s political and business elite packed up yesterday and headed home from their five-day annual session in Davos, united in the belief that climate change poses the most serious threat to the planet.
Security concerns in Iraq and Iran, the rising power of China and India, and efforts to revive the Doha round of global trade talks all were held second to climate fears during talks attended by dozens of heads of state or government and top executives from a thousand of the world’s largest corporations.
Much of the attention focused on President Bush’s initiative, announced in his State of the Union address, to slash gasoline consumption by 20 percent — something British Prime Minister Tony Blair saw as evidence that the U.S. mood on climate change “is in the process of a quantum shift.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel lauded the announcement as “encouraging … and an ambitious target” that is absolutely necessary.
Mrs. Merkel, a former minister for the environment, went further than Mr. Bush, strongly endorsing a proposal by the European Commission — the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union — to aim for a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.
“We also expect other major emittants to make a similar contribution,” Mrs. Merkel told participants in a reference to major carbon dioxide-emitting nations such as the United States, India and China.
Mr. Blair said in his keynote speech that Germany’s presidency of the Group of Eight industrial nations this year provides an opportunity to agree on the principles of a new binding international agreement that would come into effect after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Such an agreement should be more comprehensive than Kyoto and include all the major countries, he said. “It is a prize of tantalizing significance, and I think it is possible.”
But any new accord “that does not have binding commitments from America, China and India is not one that can deliver. … Without the biggest economies being part of the framework to reduce carbon dependence, we have no earthly hope of success.”
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a leading Republican presidential candidate, signaled a change in U.S. attitudes, predicting that Congress would act very soon on climate change and that the Bush administration would follow suit.
“I admit that it is very late, and it may not be enough … but I think that for the first time, you are going to see some action on this compelling issue,” he said. The U.S. Senate adopted by a vote of 95 to 0 in 1997 a resolution that the United States should not endorse the Kyoto Protocol as written.
Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program, said that climate change will affect hundreds of millions of people in developing countries with the spread of disease and floods.
Copyright 2007 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com
1. The meeting in Davos referred to in the article was the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. What is the World Economic Forum?
2. Who attends the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting?
3. a) What did meeting attendees agree is the most serious threat to the planet? b) What other issues did attendees find less threatening than this issue?
4. a) Why does British Prime Minister Tony Blair believe that the U.S. is shifting its view on climate change (to acknowledge the believed threat of man-made global warming)?
b) What is Prime Minister Blair proposing to do when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012?
5. a) What European proposal regarding global warming did German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorse?
b) What does she want the U.S., China and India to do regarding this proposal?
6. Where does presidential hopeful Republican John McCain stand on the issue of man-made global warming?
7. Where do you stand on the issue of global warming:
–Is there going to be a catastrophic climate change?
–Is any change/warming of the earths’ temperature caused by man (through carbon dioxide emissions)? Explain your answers.
ON GLOBAL WARMING:
The theory of global warming is that the earth’s temperature is rising due to man’s use of fossile fuels (gas, oil). It is believed that this temperature change will result in catastrophic problems in the environment. To prevent this man-made climate change, countries need to restrict energy use (reduce use of gas and oil).
In the Kyoto Treaty governments agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions (reduce their use of gas and oil). They believe this will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions world-wide and will prevent global warming.
President Clinton supported the Kyoto Treaty. President Bush did not.
The U.S. and Australia are 2 countries that did not sign the Kyoto Treaty. Great Britain did sign on.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair believes in the theory of global warming and was a great supporter of the Kyoto Treaty. However, in November 2005 he backed away from the Kyoto Protocol (it is assumed he recognized that many countries would not live up to their obligations under Kyoto).
Global warming is a controversial issue. Scientists today have two opposing views on global warming:
- First – the planet is warming as a result of human actions; an extreme change in the earth’s climate is going to occur, caused by greenhouse gas emitted by the world’s use of fossile fuels (coal, oil, gas).
Check out two liberal organizations which defend this viewpoint:
Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace.
- Second – fossile fuels (using gas, coal and oil) don’t cause climate change; an extreme change in the earth’s climate won’t happen. Global warming is not a scientifically proven fact. Two conservative organizations which support this view are:
FriendsOfScience.org and Junk Science.
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