Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Climate Is Changing

It's the weekend, and I made my trek over to Watching America to see what the world's press has been watching when it comes to America. Clearly the biggest topic is the world economic disaster which continues to unfold, and most nations are looking to the US to do something, anything, about it.

Interestingly, however, there were also a few articles having to do with the other pressing issues facing the world and the hoped for response from the new administration. The most optimistic of these was a brief editorial in Brazil's O Globo dealing with the upcoming world meeting on the new program to supersede the Kyoto Protocol. Entitled "Climate Has Changed for Climate Negotiations," the editorial is optimistic, and with good reason, at least at this point.

Officials linked to negotiations for an international agreement about climate are living in a moment of changes in the climate: Barack Obama's administration did a 180° turn on the American position about the topic when it included profits from a future carbon control system in its official budget. In fact, it means that the United States is heading into the Kyoto Protocol.

The protocol that never became a reality as it was not signed by the United States but is about to be replaced by another agreement that is in the process of being written. At a meeting in China as a preparatory reunion for the big meeting late this year in Copenhagen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a new cooperative attitude from the U.S.

That was an important signal that Secretary Clinton sent in China, especially since China is finally beginning to realize that it too must take a responsible stance and begin cooperating with a world-wide effort to cut carbon emissions. The US and China are the two biggest consumers of carbon-based energy, which means that right now they are the two biggest contributors to climate change.

That the new administration has done the 180 on the issue is a welcome sign. That the new administration wants to work with China on the issue is an even better sign. Hopefully the president and the leaders of all nations will lift their heads from the economic morass long enough to realize that in the long run, climate change is a far more important and difficult challenge to face.

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