At Copenhagen, after the months of build-up in which we were told a unified position between the nations of the world on a strategy to mitigate global warming was absolutely essential, there was only a recognition of the need to limit global temperatures rising no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels. Almost nothing in the way of concrete proposals was agreed on, except that rich countries promised to deliver $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change.
The lack of a unified position to address climate change in Copenhagen is no doubt a big reason the attention of the world has moved on, as if it is a hopeless cause. Many people were only too happy to seize on evidence that some researchers had been over-zealous if not unscrupulous in their attempts to confirm global warming. But the vast majority of climate change research still stands untainted and it still indicates the planet is warming due to fossil fuel consumption, and that the effects may be cataclysmic.
Chief US negotiator Jonathan Pershing said in Bonn that record high global temperatures this year, devastating floods in Pakistan and forest fires in Russia were ``consistent with the kind of changes we could expect from climate change, and they will get worse if we don't act quickly''.
It was also reported last week that a huge sheet of ice measuring 260 square kilometres has broken off a glacier in Greenland. Professor Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware in the US said it is the largest Arctic iceberg to break off since 1962. He added that it is not clear if it was due to global warming.
The same can be said for the Pakistan floods, the Russian droughts and even the record high temperatures. That uncertainty, along with the suspicion that even if such events are due to global warming it may be too late to do much about it, go a long way toward explaining the lack of resolve on the issue.
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