Ariel Goldberg
Ariel Goldberg

Copenhagen debate heats up

The lead up to the Copenhagen Climate Summit this December is not looking particularly promising. The world is split into two camps and in the past few months they have both been drastically lowering what can be expected from them in December.

On the industrialised nation front, the European Union has come out and said they will be “moving away” from the Kyoto Protocol which can basically be interpreted as its death knell since they were the strongest proponents of it in the past. The United States failed to even sign onto the agreement claiming that it was unfair on the industrialised world because the protocol leaves out any responsibility for the developing nations.

And on the developing nation front, countries like South Africa have issued statements saying that “it is unrealistic for us at this stage to set targets” because our economies are still growing and that industrialised nations are responsible for the bulk of climate change and should therefore face the most restrictions.

The reality is that the atmosphere doesn’t see national boundaries, and the destructive and potentially catastrophic weather systems that are a result of global warming don’t care about countries and the sovereignty of national states. This is everybody’s problem and everybody should be doing their part to resolve it. Granted, the developed nations have been responsible for the bulk of carbon emissions and countries like South African should be held less accountable to carbon-emission targets than say the United States or Europe, but we should still be doing our part.

What the world needs out of Copenhagen is for the Kyoto Protocol to be taken up a notch. For it to include the developing nations and for the industrialised nations to take a look at what they have managed to accomplish and set themselves new targets.

Instead, what is happening is that everybody is pointing fingers at everybody else and the final result is going to be a watered-down version of Kyoto, a treaty involving non-binding pledges from countries that at the end of the day mean nothing. At the moment everybody is looking out for their own interests and trying their best to avoid being pinned down. It’s all rather like watching someone try to herd cats.

Hopefully October 24 will be a showing of the world’s will to do something about climate change. Something that will motivate the world’s leaders to move in the right direction. Read about the thousands of events taking place across the globe here and here and remember that your voice makes a difference.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
— Dr Seuss, from The Lorax

You can’t argue with Dr Seuss.

  • Andrew Taynton

    I appeal to all concerned people do everything they can to motivate politicians on this most important issue. Take part in every action you can, start your own blog, go onto Facebook and Twitter to motivate others to take action, phone President Zuma, email on ANC web site, and write to him using snailmail, write, phone and email your member of parliament, motivate opposition MPs, get some friends together and protest in front of government buildings.

    Surf the net to find out what electronic actions you can take part in. Join Greenpeace and Avaaz and the many other environmental organisations taking action.

    If we don’t make Copenhagen happen, no one will.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

  • Judith

    Seconded guys – go to Emmarentia Botanical Gardens at 10:00 and join in the 350 day events. Take a packed lunch, a sense of fun and go by bus, bike, on foot or in a lift club!

    Then look at how you can make your life cleaner and greener!

  • brent

    The fact that the worlds leadership (the whole lot) are haggling about what to do kind of proves that there is not a “destructive and potentially catastrophic weather systems that are a result of global warming”. So lets zero in on the real problem, rampent pollution (air/water/solid) and together clean up the whole world and leave global warming/climate change or whatever it is called now to the power hungry money grubbing politicians who car zero for the common people.

    Also please read Sustainable energy – without the hot air by David MacKay for a sober honest detail on how to get into and the potential of non fossil sustainable fuels in the future. Full of scientific common sense and zero political crap.


  • Joe Soap

    Good article, not a catchy enough title. Suggest “Global doomsday in Copenhagen”

  • Marius

    All counties MUST have an EQUAL vote. One country one vote. The Americans are burning fuel and us Africans have trees. Trees offset oil and hence there should be compensation. As longs as the “developed world” (which, strangely, excludes RSA) act like they live on another planet they can go to hell on whatever planet that is. The problem is that the issue is too important to send someone to a fiery place…we could all end up there if we’re not careful.

  • Ariel

    hey man… i don’t know if the fact that world leaders are not dealing with it seriously enough means its not a very real threat… didn’t the world’s leaders fumble and fart around while Hitler began making ominous noises in the 1930’s…?
    a politician is the last person i would put my trust in…

  • Ambassador Pie

    Unfortunately, we are faced these days with waves of counterknowledge (invented, incomplete or poorly understood information compiled and presented as fact) from all quarters. The internet in particular has helped disseminate counterknowledge and truthiness (a collection of facts collated to create a fiction, which has a ring of truth to it)- especially with regard to things like evolution, climate change as well as, a little further out on the fringes, the Holocaust or 9/11. Nowadays it is no longer enough for our scientists to believe something – partly because our institutions have failed us. Science has prostituted itself to warmakers and big pharma, eroding respect for the profession. This leaves us in an era where people declare themselves experts and gain hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, adding weight to whatever their curious belief is. So Intelligent Design and anthropogenic climate change denialism become possible and difficult to contain – as does the notion of curing AIDS with vitamin supplements, that most technological advancements were stolen from black Africans by white Europeans and Americans, or that America coerced her enemies into attacking her in WWI and WWII and attacked itself on 9/11. It goes on and on and on. Not that it means that the educated should simply give up…the stakes, particularly with climate change, are simply too high.

  • MLH

    Dunno that South Africa has a leg to stand on with all that coal going up in smoke. Developing? Are we? Not if Eskom keeps up its present pace. I kinda hanker after a windmill in every garden. They were like South African cultural landmarks when there was one on every farm; right next to the long drop!

  • frank


    1. did you read the paragraph about climate change in the book you mentioned

    2. political action/ inaction is no scientific proof for anything

    3. a book that may interest you: poles apart – beyond the shouting who is right about climate change by gareth morgan, john mccrystal

  • andrew

    I am waiting for Dr Albert’s factory in Paarl to start making solar panels to make my own electricity. I read the panels will be R650 each as opposed to near R3,000 for the equivalent existing panels.

  • Billy Fletcher

    South Africa is often quoted as being one of the worst polluters on a grms CO2 per capita basis. What is not taken into account the anount of enrgy we actually export. Some as electricity for the Mozal smelter in Mocambique. At Richards Bay the aluminium is produced but exported – again much energy not used locally. Mining is also very energy intensive – again the product (using energy) is exported.
    Much of our energy is not used by the local population but but ofsets foreign per capita consumption.
    A cut in CO2 emmissions (read electricity) would adversely affect the GDP and we should persue the production of power. Coal is the only viable short term option with Nuclear as a good supplement
    Cap and Trade is a real rip-off with a valueless product being given an artifical value.
    It may however be worth while to play the game and collect any offsets that are offered. Planting trees and being pad for it seems like good business.
    Meanwhile enjoy the interglacial before nature shows who is really in control.

  • Mike Atkins

    OK, all you out there, how many scientists concluded in the 2007 IPCC Report that CO2 is the cause of current warming?

    Because if it is not, then billions and billions of dollars are going to be wasted at a time of economic hardship, causing massive, unnecessary suffering to millions of people.

    By the way, the ban on DDT (even for household spraying) was responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler.

  • Counter Spin


    Read up what scientific experts say about climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are now preparing their fifth assessment on climate change, visit their web site

    The dismissal of CO2 emissions affecting climate is a myth, and your claim “So lets zero in on the real problem, rampent pollution (air/water/solid) and together clean up the whole world and leave global warming/climate change or whatever it is called now to the power hungry money grubbing politicians who car zero for the common people.” is just another conspiracy theory disseminated by the oil industry.

    The oil industry rely on Hitler dictum, “All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.” – Adolf Hitler.

  • brent

    Ariel, “a politician is the last person i would put my trust in”, so how come so many millions believe Al Gore, who by the way is coining millions?

    My point is, if we are mere decades away from calamity why aren’t the world’s leaders/ruling elite (political and other) doing something as opposed to slickly getting more money (read power) for their use.


  • Ariel

    Al Gore isn’t a politician… he’s a scientist… he invented the internet you know… :-) hehehe… don’t worry… i’m just kidding… good point…

    Look – the calamity that climate change brings is not giong to totally eradicate all life on the planet… the people that are going to suffer are giong to be the poor powerless people on the earth who will starve or get washed away by giant floods or

    the rich and powerful will find a way to save themselves… just like they didn’t when the titanic went down… there were survivors… read the latest article from peak oil perspectives on this blog… the train analogy is great… the wealthy people know its coming… but they are busy preparing their own safety and escape and the great majority of people on the train will peg it when it goes over the rail…

    the ceo’s are sitting pretty despite the financial crisis this past year – the elite always save themselves at the expense of the poor… and so it is with climate change

    i personally don’t put all my trust in al gore by the way… i don’t believe in climate change because al gore says its real… i believe in climate change becausse the evidence al gore presented (amongst countless others) is very convincing…

  • Mike Atkins

    Ambassador Pie,

    If science has so prostituted itself, is there not the teensiest little possibility that they may have prostituted themselves with the warming alarmists,a nd all of the yummy, er … , research money going around?

    If “the internet” can so spread misinformation, what about the mainstream media? And if you think that we cannot be deceived by newspapers and TV on a grand scale, consider the fact that the world celebrated the milennium a year early (really, that is true, and I worked it out for myself without the help of the internet).

    BTW, if you so scoff at “intelligent design”, maybe come up with a coherent logical explanation of how nothing became something, was propelled outwards by no external agency, and maybe how your brain came to ponder the questions that it does without any “help”.

  • Mike Atkins


    “i believe in climate change becausse the evidence al gore presented (amongst countless others) is very convincing…”

    Er, what evidence does Al Gore present?

    The main question is whether human-emitted CO2 is responsible for observed warming (or cotributes significantly to it).

    Watch “An Inconvenient Truth”. The only evidence given in support of the GW hypothesis is the oversized graph showing temperature (ok, ESTIMATED temperature) and CO2 levels (also estimated) over the past 650,000 years.

    He convinces me that there is a correlation – that is, the two sets of data are connected in some way. But, as we should all know, correlation does not imply causation. Temperature could drive CO2, or something else entirely could affect both of these. This is elemntary logic.

    And, what Mr Gore does not tell us with his graph is that temperature increases PRECEDE CO2 increases by a few hundred years – this data was known in 2004, but did not make it into the movie…

    By the way, the number of climate scientists used by the IPCC 2007 Report to argue that CO2 drives climate is about 50 (not the 3,500 or so who participated in the overall process).

    In the past 20 years, about $100 billion has been spent on climate research.

    If the alarmism is misplaced, this scare could be one of the most expensive and damaging scientific delusions in history.

  • Green Bean

    @Billy Fletcher

    What is the good of exporting death and destruction in the form of climate change to others and toxic waste to ourselkves in the form of coal generated electricity and nuclear waste?

    South Africa has sun in the Karoo, wind on the West Coast, much more than Germany who are phasing out nukes and coal in favor of renewable energy, why can’t South Africa do better with more renewable raw materials than Germany, and export green electricity?

  • No Nonsense

    @Mike Atkins

    I give up Mike, how many concluded CO2 causes global warming?

    And those who opposed mainstream scientific consensus, were they climate scientists or scientists in other areas, or oil industry whores?


    @Mike you say, “By the way, the ban on DDT (even for household spraying) was responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler.”

    Kindly provide a reference and link. (Fifty million died in World War 2 started by Hitler)

    I have crossed swords with the DDT manufactures lobby before, according to them it is the most effective way of combatting malaria but state your case.

  • Marching to Copenhagen

    Temporary solution to climate change right beneath our feet, read carefully:

    “The heretofore unpublicized ‘good news’ on climate change, according to the Rodale Institute and other soil scientists, is that transitioning from chemical, water, and energy-intensive industrial agriculture practices to organic farming and ranching on the world’s 3.5 billion acres of farmland and 8.2 billion acres of pasture or rangeland can sequester 7,000 pounds per acre of climate-destabilizing CO2 every year, while nurturing healthy soils, plants, grasses, and trees that are resistant to drought, heavy rain, pests, and disease. And of course organic farms and ranches can provide us with food that is much more nutritious than industrial farms and ranches – food filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and essential trace minerals, free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), pesticides, antibiotics, and sewage sludge.”
    -Ronnie Cummins, “The Organic Revolution: How We Can Stop Global Warming,” October 12, 2009

    Read more and take action:

  • No Nukes

    @Billy Fletcher


    Alternate title: Nuclear Power, Nuclear Weapons, Corrupt Government, Corporate Greed, Mass Hysteria, General Ignorance, and Your DNA: A Dangerous Mix?

    A look at the Data

    by Ace Hoffman

    First published: 2008

    Available free from:

    [** Peak oil is the best news I ever heard. Go 100% renewable energy fast. Stop coal. Ban nuke power. Stimulate the economy with green jobs**]