Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ban on Warming

"The time for doubt has passed. What we do about it will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations."
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

"Given the nature and magnitude of the challenge, national action alone is insufficient. That is why we need to confront climate change within a global framework, one that guarantees the highest level of international co-operation."

Ban's is not a household name yet, but he's shown some vision. Unfortunately he has inherited an organisation that is only as effective as the member countries want it to be. Even in an apparently unipolar world, that polarity is like a minority government, that rules while the other parties remain ununified.

It _is_ hard. The issue - the profile of our energy use - cuts to the core of industrial production, and directly impinges on the wealth of nations. In the short term. Yes, it calls for a type of deliberate industrial revolution, and it's a daunting challenge at this early stage of our political evolution.

Individuals alone won't tip the balance (or preserve the balance, putting it another way). Governments have to direct - through legislation or a strongly tilted incentive regime.
In turn, poorer nations won't act unless they're compelled to. They have too many challenges to face in the short term to think seriously about the medium term. And the only rational mechanism of compulsion for them would be, again, a strongly tilted incentive regime. Fostered and financed by the developed world. Simply a national approach writ large.

So simple the solution, so much harder the political will. And the only real power most people have in the developed world is their vote.

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