On air: Is climate change too big a problem to solve?

With only three days to go, fears are growing that a “deal with teeth” may be out of reach at the climate talks in Copenhagen. Divisions between rich and poor countries seem to be widening… there have been threats of walk outs… increasingly harsh words and accusations from some developing countries that industrialised nations are not serious about carbon reduction. What do you think – is that true? Was a worldwide solution too ambitious to begin with? Is climate change just too big a problem to solve?

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, says he’s still optimistic that a deal can be reached – but are you? Do you think world leaders have what it takes to find a compromise that everyone can agree with AND that can effectively tackle climate change?

Also, with hundreds of protesters arrested already, thousands more planning actions across the day, do the protesters help or hinder the process of finding a solution?

100 Responses to “On air: Is climate change too big a problem to solve?”

  1. 1 Dan
    December 16, 2009 at 16:06

    It amazes me that fatted bureaucrats whose technical abilities are limited to operating their remote control devices can make plans to change the climate of the planet despite that they cannot cure hunger in Africa or homelessness in America.
    The violent demonstrators in Copenhagen feel that their moral superiority allows them to rampage thru the city.I am reminded that the Sahara was a lush savannah but reduced to a desert well before Al Gore decided to “green” up his wallet.
    We are experienceing NATURAL climate changes as the Earth goes thru NATURAL cycles.
    The U.N.’s interest in this is to confiscate more of our money so that the fatted bureaucrats can further line their pockets.

    Trying to solve this “problem” is like trying to change the orbit of Mars to make it more habitable.

    • 2 Dina Saldana
      December 16, 2009 at 20:17

      If we can send space ships to Mars and ships to the bottom of the sea, we can solve this problem or a least slow it down. The tragedy of it all is that the mainstream politicians do not want to solve the problem because they would lose money. Even more tragic is that people like Dan are influenced by the US news media which has an agenda which is to keep the US public ignorant and angry at anybody who understand the climate situation. If the controlling companies were to feel their citizens’outrage, things would change. So our citizens continue to listen to outrageous propaganda that refuses to acknowledge our role in the destruction of the Earth’s environment. Since stopping this kind of a propaganda machine seems almost impossible, it would seem that the only other solution is for developing countries to align themselves and refuse to do business with the countries who refuse to cooperate. Other countries such a GB also need to join the developing countries in order to isolate the US.

  2. 3 Andrew in Australia
    December 16, 2009 at 16:11

    If it is, then we and our current lifestyle and quality of life is doomed to fail or fall victim to drastic and potentially devastating change.

    It didn’t seem to big a problem to create, so unless we have somewhere else to move to and live, it is encumbant upon as presumably the top species on the planet – though our actions don’t support this premise – to ensure we do not radically destroy what we have.

    It would be extremely selfish of us and prove how undeserving we are to exist on this world if we threw up our hands and said.. well this is too big to do anything about, who cares, besides which it wil take effort on our part and of course money to bother doing anything at all. let’s at least party while the ship sinks!

  3. 4 Roy, Washington DC
    December 16, 2009 at 16:20

    Yes it is, and for more than one reason. First, as pretty much anyone knows who is following this subject, there is disagreement as to whether it even exists. Second, it takes place over a period of many, many years; influencing long-term trends like this is at best a Herculean effort. Third, a planet with six billion plus people is gong to face certain unavoidable challenges, and this in turn is going to have an impact on the environment. Climate change would be unsolvable even if we were all on the same socioeconomic scale.

    It’s nice that we as a global society are paying lip service to the environment, but it seems like just that…lip service.

  4. 5 steve
    December 16, 2009 at 16:24

    Humans can no more stop climate change than we can stop the earth from spinning, or can stop plate tectonics. People need to stop being so arrogant. how can we MINIMIZE human contribution to climate change should be the question. Not an impossible goal as the question.

  5. 6 Tom K in Mpls
    December 16, 2009 at 16:26

    Compare the products you use today with their counterparts of twenty years ago. They generally use less power, less raw materials, and have extended functionality. This covers about a quarter of what needs to be done, and we have been doing it for quite a while.

    Another quarter of what we need is nonpolluting renewable power. Many companies are working hard on this for the purest of reasons, money. The last half of what is needed is up to each of us. The first is to learn to consume based on what we need, not to impress others. But more important than all of this, we need to quit breeding simply out of boredom or because we can.

    What is being discussed by your title, is climate control. Climate change has always existed. We as yet can not accurately predict any effects. But in the wording of many the truth comes out. People want to preserve the current state beyond the effects of man *and* nature.

    • December 16, 2009 at 17:55

      Non polluting power Tom,

      We have had that for over a hundred years, the Victorians left it in their legacy to us,I was facinated to see this ancient technology in action in the 1960’s, it was silent, powerful enough to lift twenty ton loaded railway wagons high into the air,and all of the power tools and goods lifts on The old London Road Station were powered by it.

      Just imagine old horse drawn cabs on the front of the elite passenger station, and technology far in advance of anything we are using today in the Goods Station below,it was actually free energy and it was never known to fail, due to the belt and braces technology of the Victorians.

      OK. I know the likely questions, and there were no problems of any kind known to the rail staff who worked the system; this free energy was water power, even the shunting of the rail wagons was easily carried out by this wonder of the ages, and in absolute shock and disgust; I watched it smashed to pieces and scrapped for cash in 1960, courtesy of the Greedy British Rail Management.

      Cheers H.

      • 8 takoller
        December 16, 2009 at 19:21

        Water power is very impractical in many areas and damages many useful ecosystems. I can and does play a small role. As for rail transportation, why do you think Warren Buffet bought Burlington Northern?

  6. 9 Tamatoa, Zurich
    December 16, 2009 at 16:27

    The problem is solvable. It’s a matter of life and death for humanity. So we have to believe in it because the other options are not very appealing.
    I think that people have difficulties seing that because we face a kind of problem that we’ve never seen before. It involves everyone on the planet and we have to solve it with everyone.
    The benefit of it all, is that once we’ve overcome this problem we will have tools at our disposal that we never had before. We know how to coordinate our actions to benefit the whole world and not just a greedy elite. It’s like graduating. We will move to a new stage of humanity’s social evolution.

  7. 10 Tony from Singapura
    December 16, 2009 at 16:29

    It is all just entertainment. They wont solve anything… this is the UN remember – its just a talk fest anyway.

    The issues being argueed are too complex, and we dont understand the science well enough.

    What we should be doing is handing our free condoms so that we can reduce the population to a size can be sustained in a future with higher sea levels and different rate fo food production.

  8. 11 Guido
    December 16, 2009 at 16:31

    The problem is not to complicated, the solution is. If you have about 200 counties and want to have independent target for every country, good look.

    What we need is formula for emissions suitable for all nations, where the allowed emissions depend on population, GDP, historical emissions,…
    This don’t makes the problem easy, but much easier.

    Additionally I am in favour of trading emission certificates.

  9. 12 Gary Paudler
    December 16, 2009 at 16:32

    The problem is getting bigger by the hour as long as a relative few of the 193 countries represented in Copenhagen refuse to set aside parochial (read “commercial”) self-interests and engage with good will to arrive at a committed deal to reduce climate changing emissions. The US, China, Canada and Australia, among others, need to be willing to push the coal and oil industries under the bus, and their citizens need to accept that we will have to pay the real cost of the energy that we consume, our leaders seem certain that it will be political suicide to return home with that message and they might be right, so political pandering is the master of the most critical issue affecting the globe. India and China should stop pretending to align themselves with Haiti and Burkina Faso as “developing countries” too poor and helpless to do anything but receive handouts. The notion that it is fair to allow any country to continue to wreck the global climate until they catch up with legacy polluters in North America and Europe is insane. To try to pre-empt the predictable claims that “anthropogenic climate change is a fraud”, please accompany your heartfelt assertion with a reference to even just one peer-reviewed publication and along with “3000 scientists disagree” please include the names of a few who aren’t paid shills and are in a related field; cosmetologists do not qualify.

  10. 13 derrick kwashie from ghana
    December 16, 2009 at 16:45

    First, i want say, it is utter nonsense for anyone to say that the actions or inactions of the prostester at the conference can in anyway hinder the process of finding a binding solution to the problem of climate change. As to whether climate change is too big a problem to solve, is neither here nor there, infact it need not be contemplated in the first place. As always, nature has a way of dealing with problems that are caused naturally, as the earth evolves, but this does not stops us from acting in concert to solve those problems that are caused by us humans, as a result of our actions and inactions. Failure on the part of both parties – the developed and the developing countries, to compromise their entrenched position may spell doom for future generations and eventually endanger the life the planet, we all call home.

  11. 14 T
    December 16, 2009 at 16:46

    No. What’s too big right now is the ego of various politicians involved in the process.

    The States say we’re ENTITLED to our consumer lifestyle. Big cars, plasma screen TV’s and all the rest of it. Oh really? What about personal debt (which is 3 times the average income)? No accountability.

  12. 15 wintergreen
    December 16, 2009 at 16:48

    Why do people want to change a naturaly occuring phenomenon?
    I wish politicians would be honest and come out and say they just want to tax us more because they are greedy/useless/incompetent (delete as applicable) and stop all this scaremongering over alleged man made global warming.

  13. 16 Dennis Junior
    December 16, 2009 at 16:49

    Honestly, NO…But, the solution that is required to repair the problems of Climate Change requires; Some difficult choices in behaviour…

    =Dennis Junior=

  14. December 16, 2009 at 16:52

    The natural/man-made dispute is irrelevant. If we agree that the climate changes are not good, then we need to do what we can to prevent them. Later we’ll find out if that was enough.

    Right now I fear that the global north doesn’t really care what happens to Africa and the rest of the south. But what happens when millions of refugees head north?

    I also fear that the US won’t care until southern Florida and the Gulf Coast go underwater. Or the White House basement and the New York subways get flooded.

  15. 18 patti in cape coral
    December 16, 2009 at 16:58

    I don’t know at all if it is too big a problem to solve. It might be that climate change will happen no matter what we do, and we just need to develop the means to cope with it. In any case, I still think it is a good think to reduce our impact on the planet as much as possible. Even so, I’m starting to think that even if it were solvable, we as humans are too stubborn, foolish, contentious, greedy, lazy, perverse (take your pick) to find viable solutions. I still believe that developing “green” technologies and cleaner energy serves both the planet and our economy, but there is too much resistance from those with a lot too lose by change.

    • December 16, 2009 at 21:50

      It looks as if you and quite a few more people on this post are quite a lot nearer the mark than the politicians who have travelled all the way to the meeting.

      In fact it would probably be a lot more useful to the world in general if they all went back home did a bit more research and tried out a few sound ideas in their own countries, then went back to the table with sound information and new ideas regarding global warming, concentrating less on the money angle.

      It seems that even in the U.K. some angles and interests take priority over main problems, a few years ago a former Government Minister who never gets credit for anything, forwarded a complete plan to Manchester Council, including Park and Ride, electrically powered Black cabs and parking at the city boundary,but priority was given to the ridiculous idea of toll charges in and out of Manchester, and for once the tax payer won the day and the idea’ having cost a small fortune was dropped like the hot potato it really was.

  16. 20 Chintan in Houston
    December 16, 2009 at 16:59

    No one was under the illusion that this was going to be easy. In fact, the attention that this conference has got is promising sice it proves that most people in the world want to do something about it.
    The 2 biggest questions as far as i understand about this debate are 1) how much money are the wealthy nations ready to shell out to poorer nations that would encorage growth in a responsible way and 2) how would any emission restrictions or cap and trade regulations established would be monitored.
    Thats the reason a draft of the bill introduced by Yvo deBer, a top UN climate official contained the phrase ‘to be eloberated’ as reported by the new york times today.
    The protesters are not helping, they want some positive out come and thata what the delegates are trying to do.

  17. 21 vijay pillai
    December 16, 2009 at 17:00

    I think with so many doubts being created at this point in time ,it is better to agree in principle and monitor co2 level for another 5 years and see if the 192 countries do their part for reduction in co2 from present level and support countries in dire need like giving immigration rights to low population and more land awailable countires like australia and newzeland for people from bangladshs ,tamilelam and maldives who’s land been vulnerable to tsunami and floods as in recent times. dont give blank cheque to counries to spend as they like on fancy goods for their kids and deposit in swiss bank,give money on a project basis where they are affected in past to put their economy back on trackand not to all those crying wolvesrom developing countires who think it is a free for all summit.

  18. December 16, 2009 at 17:08

    The first step when finding yourself in a hole is to stop digging. Even if you think the problem is too big. First start by not making it bigger.

  19. 23 Roberto
    December 16, 2009 at 17:09

    RE “” UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, says he’s still optimistic that a deal can be reached “”

    ———- The problem ain’t global warming, the problem is a lack of credible global leadership and vision that would’ve made changes decades ago.

    So now the inept globalists are charged with trying to make a GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND with sweeping incompetent, indeed, dishonest bureaucratic agreements tackling a problem that was decades of resources exploitation that the entire global economy was built on.

    They could start at the top with baby steps by siphoning off ill gotten illicit wealth accumulated by these globalists and create a superfund that nation states could qualify for with credible working plans to solve their individual environmental problems.

    Throwing away precious capital at large scale unproven solutions ain’t gonna to work. Start small with unanimous agreements and develop, develop, develop better economic models that reflects the true costs of development and labor.

  20. 24 eSCe
    December 16, 2009 at 17:12

    Nope, I ‘ve personally readapted my lifestyle to using 20 % less carbon . If 1 billion people in the developed world does the same , it will achieved what Copenhagen could not.

    • 25 wintergreen
      December 16, 2009 at 18:53

      Over the last few years I have adapted too. Fuel prices have rocketed, so much so I can no longer afford to use my heating. I adapted by going back to burning coal, its cheap and gets my home much warmer than the modern heating ever could. So far 3 family members and countless friends have done the same.
      If governments and fuel companies keep hiking up the cost of gas and electricity then I can see many more people opening up their chimneys and burning things to keep warm.
      Looks like the plan to raise the price of energy to cover “green” issues might just backfire if they carry on the way they do.
      If you want people to be “green” make it affordable or it will never work.

  21. 26 John in Salem
    December 16, 2009 at 17:12

    We can do things now to lessen our impact on the planet in a hundred years but we cannot change the past. The delegates at this conference who truly understand the scope of the problem are spending as much time discussing global triage as they are carbon emissions.

    All I can say about the protestors is that if they didn’t walk or ride a bike to get there they have no business complaining about anything.

  22. December 16, 2009 at 17:13

    If I were 20 now and if in 80 more years things had become so bad that the hot areas of the world were devastated, millions of people having died and millions of people having moved in on the people in the survivable parts of the globe, I would rather be able to say, “At least I tried to do something.”

  23. December 16, 2009 at 17:15

    Unity worldwide over climate change entails a united political and economic policy to deal with it. This also entails huge efforts to make radical changes in the way human activities are carried out. However, this can be difficult to achieve to the letter when the delegates are back home as each country will strive to keep its economy going even at the expense of the environment.

    Now there are international forces to keep peace in troubled areas. But will it be possible to mount an international force made of environmentalists and economists to patrol every industrial plantation to make sure that the environment is now in safe hands?

    Climate change will remain a hostage of the economic changes around the world. Politicians, in general, are ready to sacrifice an environment issue to keep their economic promises. It’s all a matter of which side to change to tackle what is apparently a decisive issue concerning climate change.

  24. 29 Bert
    December 16, 2009 at 17:18

    I am a firm believer in the notion that truth ultimately prevails. Which is why the Compenhagen summit was bound to fail, one way or another. And by that I mean, EVEN IF the parties came to some concocted “agreement,” the climate would not have changed as a result of that agreement. (The climate will change regardless.)

    My worry is only that the goal of polluting less, and I mean real pollution and not CO2 emissions, and the goal of conserving oil, are very valid goals. It would be a crying shame if failure of the “effecting climate change” silliness being preached in Copenhagen were to mean that valid goals would also be dropped.

    The violent protesters are a big who cares. People have always been able to get themselves all worked up in a frenzy, for whatever imaginary “reason” they have dreamed up.

  25. 30 By George from Nairobi,Kenya
    December 16, 2009 at 17:20

    I just cringe every time I hear the words climate change because our fate depends on people who have put their interests first.I can’t wait for Friday for us to learn our fate

  26. 31 patti in cape coral
    December 16, 2009 at 17:24

    OMG, I just read over my comment, please forgive my typos!

  27. 32 JanB
    December 16, 2009 at 17:25

    Climate change cannot be “solved”. It can be slowed down and populated areas can be fortified against the new climate, but climate change as a whole can’t be undone.
    Even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions by 100% today the climate would still change because of emission in the past. Nations would still have to adapt to the changing climate, the only difference Copenhagen can make would be a reduction of climate change, meaning less measures would have to be taken in the future to protect populated areas, but some measures would have to be taken anyway.

    In the end Earth will survive, as will humanity. Some rich countries who take adequate measures will even preserve Western civilization, but poor, unsustainable populations will be hit hard, Copenhagen won’t change much about that.
    In the end though, cutting emissions is a good thing as it will prevent even more drastic climate changes in the 22nd century, but other measures like sustainable management of water and land and serious population control will be needed as well.

    • 33 Bert
      December 16, 2009 at 17:36

      “Even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions by 100% today the climate would still change because of emission in the past.”

      I’d say, more accurately, the climate would still change because our emissions are such a small percentage of the total.

      In ancient Rome, people wore togas and stolas, and lived in homes with open atriums. It would be a mighty uncomfortable way to live in Rome these days.

      • 34 JanB
        December 16, 2009 at 17:50

        Since the last Ice Age (12.000 years ago) CO2 levels varied between 260 and 280ppm up until 1750, but since the Industrial Revolution it has risen to 390ppm (other greenhouse gas concentrations have also risen this sharply.) So yes, human activity only amounts for 5% of CO2 emissions, but that’s 5% added to an ancient natural balance and then it becomes a lot, especially if it goes on for decades.

  28. 35 rob z.
    December 16, 2009 at 17:43

    The issues of the rich and poor can be met.
    1=provide developing countries with the technology to function up to western pollution standards.
    2=develope a system of (trade for goods)not money between economic powers,barter system.
    to control trade inbalances and cash flow between nations.

    example:USA would send 5 solar panels for 200lbs. of farmed catfish.
    water filtration units for fruit

    Rob in Florida

    Like the new look!

  29. December 16, 2009 at 17:47

    I agree with Dan, the first person to reply today. As a person who has merely scratched the surface of an education in the hard sciences, I can understand the complexity of an “open” system. The weather has far too many unknown components for the current level of scientific knowledge to comprehend clearly. BUT! What we can do, what humans have done best in the past, is react and prepare for it. At the current pace of preparation, we will fail. All the contributing countries at Copenhagen are acting like a roomful of small boys after someone has broken an expensive glass object. “I didn’t do it! He did it!” and so on. Who cares? Let’s GET READY for the rise in sea levels! Let’s GET READY for the major weather disasters! No one can deny that global warming has happened before in the earth’s history, whatever the cause. We can’t deny the ‘glass’ is broken, so let’s be done with the finger pointing and start bracing ourselves for the inevitable. So far, I haven’t heard any country, including the U.S.A., mention THAT in Copenhagen.

  30. 37 Denise in Chicago
    December 16, 2009 at 17:50

    Climate change and its impacts are absolutely an overwhelming problem BUT that cannot stop us from doing everything possible to mitigate its effects. This problem must be on the agenda of every world leader and all citizens of the world need to do their part as well. We need to stop assigning blame and work on real solutions.

  31. 38 Tim
    December 16, 2009 at 18:15

    The only solution is like China.

    1 (one) child per couple.

    Anything else is a sticking plaster over a major wound to the environment.

    We are bleeding it to death. We are poisoning it to death, and ourselves.

    People who want a better world for their children need to recognise they need to have fewer children.

  32. 39 D from Indiana
    December 16, 2009 at 18:16

    I think we must first define if climate change is caused by human behavior. Only then can we estimate its complexity and potential solution.

  33. 40 Bert
    December 16, 2009 at 18:22

    JanB, I don’t believe it. First off, our CO2 contribution is more like 3 percent, secondly CO2 is not even the most “haremful” in terms of greenhouse effects (water vapor is worse, and with that added in our controibution is far less than 1 percent).

    But mostly, there is absolutely NOTHING that would lead us to believe that our small added contribution “accumulates” as you describe, as if it were a savings plan in a bank. Nothing at all. No system with feedback loops, such as the ecosystem, works that way. That is just the sort of woool that got pulled over the eyes of the innocent politicos.

  34. 41 Kenn
    December 16, 2009 at 18:49

    The problem isn’t with the politicians, its with the suggested solutions.

    Im not willing to see my money go to some backwater African countries despotic leaders to be spent killing people not in his tribe.

    Sorry if that makes me selfish.

    The real answer is to dump these billions of dollars into creating sustainable energy.

    How many massive solar plants can be created in sun rich regions with 200 billion dollars? How many fuel cells can be produced to power cars. How many homes in the US and Europe can be equipped with solar panels? How much research into the new more efficient solar panels can you fund with that money?

    • 42 Kevin PE
      December 16, 2009 at 22:04

      To give you an approximate answer to your question as to how far $200 billion would go toward solar and/or wind.
      Solar/wind @ $10/watt approx. Gigawatt equals 1 billion watts. Average oil fired power plant output 5 gigawatt. The math – 1 gigawatt costs $10 billion so then $200 billion will get you 20 billion watts or equal output of 4 oil fired plants. Also to get 1 gigawatt you need about 12 square miles of solar panel, or 60 square miles for 1 power plant@ 5 gigawatts.

  35. 43 Scott
    December 16, 2009 at 18:50

    The people that are worried about climate change mitigation measures affecting their economies need to understand what will happen to their economies without those measures. Who will they listen to who can explain this to them in terms they will understand?

    If the delegates don’t come up with an agreement, they should be sacked for not doing their jobs and replaced and the cycle should continue until an agreement is reached.

  36. 44 viola
    December 16, 2009 at 18:55

    It is unlikely there will be an effective deal until the effects of global warming become so obvious because of the death and destruction that will happen that it can no longer be an option not to have a deal.

    There are too many people profiting from the carbon-based economy of the world for a deal to be easily reached. Additionally, those who have not so far profited from that same carbon-based economy will naturally feel cheated of their chance to get the goodies that kind of economy has provided to other parts of the world.


  37. December 16, 2009 at 19:01

    Yes,it is far too big a problem to solve.even to suggest the we humans can change an entire planetary system,and a wild system at that,beggars belief.The sun drives the climate,along with many other things,far too numerous to list here.Scientists know very well that climate has changed many times in the past,without our help.Why,suddenly,are we to blame?

    As far as Copenhagen is concerned,even if agreement is reached,and is not legally binding,it will be a waste,and if it is legally binding who will police it? I cannot see a viable agreement being reached.

  38. 46 Tom D Ford
    December 16, 2009 at 19:03

    This black background and white letters is horrible. Computer scientists have long known that it is hard to read and the public does not like it.

    Please go back to the normal black letters on white background.


  39. 47 Tom D Ford
    December 16, 2009 at 19:09

    No, it is not too big a problem to solve.

    There is an article in the November 2009 Scientific American magazine that details how to do it, “A path To Sustainable Energy by 2030”. We can do it with 100% Wind, Water, and Solar and eliminate all fossil fuels.

  40. 48 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    December 16, 2009 at 19:09

    In the beginning, there was no free oxygen on earth. Then blue-green algae evolved, started releasing oxygen and, after several eons, the earth had an oxygen atmosphere.

    Mankind can no more stop polluting than the blue-green algae can stop releasing oxygen. I’d like to think that humans, being rather more intelligent than blue-green algae, can do SOMETHING about the pollution if we get together and try.

    I don’t think the Copenhagen conference will accomplish a thing because it’s just too unwiedly a process.

  41. 49 Shannon in Ohio
    December 16, 2009 at 19:23

    Each and every country’s representative is enjoying luxurious accommodation and an endless stream of delicious dinners while the rest of us in both developed and developing countries stupidly hope that they will actually do something to help us all. Well intentioned scientists are not going to stave off the host of puffed up egos currently clashing in Copenhagen.

  42. 50 Bert
    December 16, 2009 at 19:23

    The difference with the CFC problem of the 1980s is, humans made the CFCs. If humans stopped making CFCs, they wouldn’t accumulate in the upper atmosphere. Susprise. That’s what happened.

    CO2? Very different matter.

  43. 51 Tom D Ford
    December 16, 2009 at 19:24

    The actual climate change is not too big to solve, the hard to solve problem is getting the scientifically ignorant Conservatives to learn something and change. They are adamant in their embrace of ignorance and in being anti-Science.

    The core of idea Conservatism is being against “change” and Progressives have always had to force change upon them.

    Here is a great quote from Samuel Clemens that hits the nail on the head:

    “The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them. — Mark Twain”

    If Conservatism was successful, Conservatives would still be walking, they never would have “changed” and started riding horses, let alone “changed” and learned to drive cars.

    If Conservatives had their way we in the US would still be British subjects and bowing and scraping our noses before the Monarchs, but we forced them to “change” to the ideas of Democracy, Freedom, and Liberty!

  44. 52 Jim Hass
    December 16, 2009 at 19:28

    You’re misleading people. Focus on pollution and everything else will follow, including the climate. Plus, carbon capture is hell on water supplies.

  45. 53 T
    December 16, 2009 at 19:29

    It’s human nature to want a better standard of life. But look at the differences.

    The States refuse to give up theirs. China says they’re entitled to a higher standard and to be a world player. Smaller countries literally don’t want to disappear.

    I’ll be very surprised if an actual agreement is signed.

  46. 54 Patrick in Vancouver
    December 16, 2009 at 19:29

    It doesn’t matter. If we don’t kill ourselves with global warming, we will find another way to destroy mankind in due time. It’s our very nature. We are a parasite on earth. In few hundred thousand years there will be little evidence we were here.

  47. December 16, 2009 at 19:30

    Why do countries not fund the few Nuclear Fusion projects around the world (in Europe, South Korea and the USA) to a much greater extent? Seems to me that Fusion would imperative if we want to both control global climate change, and end global poverty.

    • 56 Robert
      December 17, 2009 at 05:06

      You’re right. If fusion could be employed on a large scale, much of our long term energy issues would be solved. And billions are being spent to make it a reality.
      But you gotta get that sucker juuuuuust right….National Geographic had an article on fusion a few years back that pointed out the enormous number of problems that need to be solved before it can happen. Even a moon shot effort will probably take decades to see commercial use of fusion reactors.

  48. December 16, 2009 at 19:31

    The only way to make any meaningful progress towards the mitigation of climate change would be for a lot of us to be willing to take a temporary hit to our lifestyles. Either we don’t want to do that, or our leaders are not aware that we’d be willing to do that.

  49. 58 Todd in Atlanta
    December 16, 2009 at 19:34

    The guest that highlighted the solutions that industries came-up with for the whole CFCs/ Ozone problem really struck a chord with me. I’ve never been comfortable with this whole carbon-emmissions rationing tax (or whatever it’s called…), simply because more or less pollution still amounts to pollution. Can’t the majority of these emissions be collected and recycled (into electricity, power, energy…)somehow? They’re already doing it with the methane discharge from land-fills in some places. Developing an industry in just the collection, redistribution and recycling of emissions should create millions of jobs in things like research, development, and processing all this pollution. We seem to be at the cusp of a massive worldwide opportunity, and it looks like we’re going to mess it up completely, because too many people in power seem so pig-headed.

  50. December 16, 2009 at 19:39

    I also wish people wouldn’t be afraid to talk about overpopulation – and I wish other people wouldn’t dismiss such a discussion as being deeply immoral with that single word: ‘China’.

  51. 60 Dan
    December 16, 2009 at 19:40

    The people with no engineering or science education or background (like Al Gore) that are hystericaly running around saying that we are all going to die are the problem and the sole impediment to nations working together to effect any changes at all.
    Governments cannot make policy based upon hysterics or have laws drafted by anarchists.
    Anyone on air that mentions the words “Climete Change”, “Global Warming” or any such nonsense need to be held to account for their bona fides or are they just throwing emotionally charged words around.

  52. 61 Harris Tiddens
    December 16, 2009 at 19:40

    The climate problem is too big for the governments heads. We have some 193 countries worldwide but about 4000 cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants. In the comming 15 years this number will increase with some 1300 cities in this category and about 900 million urban people. All these cities will follow the example of the present cities, a bad example. We need to establish a large institution helping these cities choosing the best practice to get their inherent energy consumption down, to enable them to adapt renewable energy. By the way …Concentrating on the supercities does not solve the problem, they only account for something like 13-14% of the urban population. Its the mass of smaller cities.

    This is a challenge comparable to evidence based best practices in human medicine this is do-able.

    Harris Tiddens

  53. December 16, 2009 at 19:41

    The summit should have been just the representatives of the countries which actually can make any difference – the big polluters. Even now it’s up to just them to fix the emission cut targets and decide on how much they are willing to shell out to ‘help’ those affected. I don’t see what inviting all stakeholders is going to achieve. What’s my prime minister and his jumbo delegation going to do there. “Our glaciers are drying up, rain has gone down big time, we are going to have another 20 hours of power cuts because there’s not enough water in the reservoirs, give me money so that we can arrange another cabinet meeting at the base camp of everest and take my family and by jumbo delegation of ministers, officials, foreign dignitaries and the media and burn more carbon on the planes and helicopter during the trip”? Everyone knows Maladives is drowning and the Himalayan ice is disappearing.

    I also think that the setting money aside to help developing countries to ‘deal with the affects’ is useless unless it is made clear what these dealings are going to be and how to implement them. Plus developing countries should also be forced to develop policies to fight with climate change. Everyone is aware about climate change. We now need to know how to take action apart from not driving cars.

    Having too many people just creates confusion and no deal.

  54. December 16, 2009 at 19:43

    Carbon capture.. when determining the cost of the technology, they should also determine and include the environmental cost of the technology. Otherwise we’ll be back here, going around in circles.

  55. 64 Carin
    December 16, 2009 at 19:43

    Of course we can take care of Climate Change. We can do almost anything as we have proven over time. It’s important to the different countries there too. They should be helped to be better prepaired for starters. SOmething as simple as poorer countries not being able to afford decent & enough food & warm clothing is a must. Everyone needs these things to be more productive. Understand many people are on such diff. economic levels. Next keep meeting often let anyone drop out if they think we can not fix this. I have no doubt the scientists can solve this. Let thm work it out with out politics involved. We are talking about the human race!
    thank you

  56. 65 steve
    December 16, 2009 at 19:44

    Having these communist protesters speak their minds really damages the credibility of the climate change movement, because their motivation is simply out of hating capitalism, the US (the North). People in the first world don’t want to live in third world standards like the communists want as “equality”. You harm the efforts by bringing these guests on.

    • 66 Kenn
      December 16, 2009 at 20:59

      I fully support this. I was shaking my head the entire time they were talking about how capitalism is terribad and only making themselves look foolish.

      Their arguments were full of air as well as the only they did was repeat the nonsense Gore spouts all the time and extremist views on social justice.

      Why didn’t WHYS bring in some economists to speak of the actual costs of the issue and discuss what has been talked about at the meetings. Instead the last half hour was devoted to the protesters yammering on about how “The North” is bad.

    • 67 Robert
      December 17, 2009 at 04:50

      I didn’t see the program, but the coverage of the protests in Copenhagen are widely reported here in the States. I believe those inside the building and those outside are cut from the same cloth. It’s just that those outside are a bit more honest about it.
      They make no apologies for hating capitalism, wealth, America, and anything that stand in the way of what they want. You have to admire them for that, at least .

  57. 68 Jennifer-salt lake city
    December 16, 2009 at 19:45

    These politician are just trying to line their pockets. Sorry to say what do they care if some country like the Maldives which they probably couldn’t even find on a map falls off into the ocean it’s not their country.

  58. 71 Eric (san francisco / KALW)
    December 16, 2009 at 19:47

    not one word about world population at these talks or in the media discusssions on them……. 4 billion to 5, to 6, to 7 and onward… as if this has no effect on carbon emissions, no effect on deforestation, no effect on extinction of animals, no effect on overfishing (mentioned on the broadcast), and on and on.

    • 72 Tom K in Mpls
      December 17, 2009 at 00:44

      There have been plenty of posts pointing this out, including mine: http://tinyurl.com/yg2hj5m . Most people would rather address the hype the media presents.

      One thing I would like to see is two outputs from a land usage study. One would be the carbon emissions per acre of all countries ( very simple ) and the other would be the sustainable population per acre of each country based on current land type and usage. This would be far more telling.

  59. 73 Margie in Portland
    December 16, 2009 at 19:48

    More people would respond to cries of, “Save civilization as we know it! Save the human race!” than are responding to cries of, “Save the planet!”

    I think that one of the reasons for public apathy about climate change, at least in the USA, is that proponents of remedial action on this issue so often refer to the effects on wildlife and the environment. They talk about glaciers and penguins and polar bears. They know that these impacts on the natural world serve as “canaries in a coal mine,” but forget that most in the general public don’t make that connection between danger to glaciers and animals and the dangers to the human race.

    If climate change activists would refrain from talking about the symptoms of this crisis and talk more exclusively about the ultimate prognosis, it might be more effective. “Save the planet!” doesn’t rouse any more people to action and sacrifice than “Save the polar bears!”

    After all, the planet is going to be fine. The planet, per se, will be largely unaffected by climate change. It’s life as we know it here on the planet — our global civilization in it’s present form — that’s at stake: the natural order of things, in which the human race has existed for the past 30,00 years or so.

    • 74 JanB
      December 16, 2009 at 20:52

      Yep, humanity easily survived the ice ages because its tribal cultures were perfectly suited to the nomadic lifestyle of small hunting tribes.

      Now there are 7 billion of us, mostly living in unprotected cities, so our cultures are in much more danger.

  60. 75 Paul
    December 16, 2009 at 19:50

    The climate of planet earth has been changing for millions of years. Trying to stop that now is like trying to stop the tides of the oceans- impossible. Instead of combating climate change, we need to adapt to it.

  61. 76 Jon Libby
    December 16, 2009 at 19:53

    How about dealing with the root cause….over population.

    Instead of carbon trading how about allowing everyone to have one child and if they want more children they can get a “baby trade” from someone who has no children.

    Good show, thanks…
    Jon Libby
    Santa Cruz, California

  62. 78 Wanda
    December 16, 2009 at 19:56

    Poor countries are having fun pretending to have the moral high ground on richer western countries. How many burn fuels like wood, coal, or dung to cook and keep warm? How many have as many children as they can? Will they stop? Are they contributing to the technologies of green energy? How many of these “poor” countries have had the same supplies and abilities as Sweden, Norway and Denmark but prefer to butcher each other and put up with dictators who stash the wealth of the people in places like Switzerland? Africa and India are rich in natural resources, particularly brain power of their Men And Women. Their leaders prefer to keep them poor, barefoot and pregnant.

    Climate has changed before take a look at the history of the last 2,000 years. What we need is to get going on what we are going to do to mitigate the consequences of this climate swing.

  63. 79 Brian
    December 16, 2009 at 19:56

    I think it will take an effort so scrupulous that it will rival the likes of militarization for World War Two (in reference from the US). Perhaps something akin to the space race between the US and Russia, however at the same time walking the fine line between economy and politics.
    Indeed we as the western world owe it to the lesser privileged countries to aid them in whatever climate-related need they may have. I feel if the current politicians and economic powerhouses won’t embrace this change, then the people will find the ones who simply will.

  64. 80 Rachel
    December 16, 2009 at 19:58

    There are lots of other reasons to reduce consumption of coal and oil – regardless of climate change- e.g. emissions of volatile organic compounds in case of oil, coal dust and acid mine drainage from coal mines and pyrite in tailings.

  65. 81 Dan
    December 16, 2009 at 20:23

    @Jon Libby
    Again this is strictly a 3rd world problem as that is who are having the babies. I do not think the Islamic world will take kindly to your plan to limit families. Neither will areas of the wortld wshere infant mortality is high and life expectency is low. They have more kids just to make sure someone survives.

  66. 82 Bob in Queensland
    December 16, 2009 at 20:31

    Climate change won’t be solved by grand gestures and Copenhagen-style conferences where politics and vested-interests are more important that science. The real changes will come from billions of individuals leading the way with small changes to lifestyle.

  67. 83 Ryant T
    December 16, 2009 at 20:31

    I’m sure fossil fuel interests would love to see the world delay for another few decades while they TRY to make permanent carbon storage widely and commercially feasible. Or try BandAid approaches that address poverty in the short term but not the long-term hazards to prosperity. But it looks like we don’t have the time. Some modest climate change is unlikely to be catastrophic on balance. But, that is probably locked in already. The atmosphere will keep warming for at least decades after emissions are cut due to thermal inertia. Potentially much longer if we set serious long-term feedbacks into motion. The issue now is the high risk of acceleration and the commitment of many generations to rapid interglacial climate change.

    Targets need to be established and fossil carbon needs to become more expensive worldwide (given the global nature of the market), while rebates are offered for efficiency and renewables. But with climate change still in it’s infancy in much of the world, and mixed with short-term fluctuation, it doesn’t SEEM urgent.

  68. 84 seth rosenblum
    December 16, 2009 at 20:52

    the thing that people don’t think about is that they are ordering off a menu when that consume thins

    and for most people the perceived bottom line is a big part of there choice

    the menu they are order off of is flawed, the reel cost of what they are ordering from is not including the cost of the “bus by” the proper handling of pollution and disposal of products

    the more we don’t pay for the bus boy up front (in the manufacture and perches), the worse the problem gets

    and company’s will continue to do so until the companies are made responsible for how they produce there product witch is a choice of the company’s

    choices would be different if the cost of pollution and disposal was a cost factor

    then the consumer can be able to make a real choice of what they vote on consuming

    and it is not a real vetoing until the trow cast is included

    at that point we will find that the healthy ant environmental option is the more affordable choice and still profitable for company’s

  69. 85 James
    December 16, 2009 at 20:58

    I have become so disenchanted in our world leaders, that I’m not sure what It might take for me to believe anything they says. The level of the indifference to making this a better world to live on is stifling!
    We can barely depend on the news media to report the news. Rating numbers are more important to them than report the news. We get entertainment, blasted at us 24/7! Our leaders are looking for good rating numbers so they just debate back and forth and never complete anything!
    My guess is at some point the truth will make it’s self known! We will burn up from the heat, or freeze to death from the cold. If we don’t smoother to dead from the fumes in the air first!

  70. December 16, 2009 at 22:23

    I do not believe the issue of Climate change is too big a problem to solve if and only if every stake holder understood that the effect of this global issue is going to directly have great impact on our lives. It is going modify the world to look like any of the planets such as mars or venus in the solar system where there is no live. So if we want to live and let live, a worldwide solution can be reached and so we must start doing something about it now. I wish a deal should not be reached just for the sake of reaching a deal, but it should be an accord which we are able and can start working to achieve with our leaders taking the first step. I mean the countries with power (technology and economy) will have to do some sacrifaces. They should take the lead so as to persuad the rest of the world to take after.

    I am for peaceful protesting at this meeting and against violent protest which would hinder the process of finding a durable solution. I think peaceful protestors should be allowed to reprensent themsleves so as to enhance true understanding of this issue which is threatening human civilization.

  71. December 16, 2009 at 22:25

    The human population was once upon a time very few in number,(two I think, after the world’s first transplant.) the weather was cold but clear, in later stages we had smog, and coal smoke got the blame, but you could still see the stars at night, sky larks in the daytime and occasionally good clean fresh air on the hills.

    Eventually it was noticed that we had a new problem, “Global Warming” a potential money spinner with accesss to other people’s bank accounts, and everlasting subsidies available for very little effort and few if any results.

    Now hard to believe it; but this time cattle got the blame,as they played all day long in the rich green fields, and busily produced the gases that threatened the world. But on reflection the human population has exactly the same potential in the disputed area of methane production, and as numbers seem to count most; in this blame everyone else society, perhaps we should take a close, but not too close look at China.

    Just Kidding
    Cheers H.

  72. 88 Avi Nofech
    December 16, 2009 at 23:30

    If any one has doubts that carbon dioxide can affect climate, just look at Venus.

    Its bright sulphuric acid clouds reflect light so well Venus absorbs less sunlight than the Earth, despite being closer to the Sun. Nonetheless, because of the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, its surface temperature is close to 500C.

    Interestingly, there is almost as much carbon dioxide locked in carbonate rocks in the Earth’s crust as on Venus. It could only be released if the crust heats enough for calcium carbonate to decompose, which is not going to happen any time soon.

    Still, this shows that carbon dioxide is involved in really significant climate change: from an Earth-type climate with liquid water to that of Venus.

    Another advantage of considering Venus is that there are no politicians there, none at all. One can’t claim that what happened there was to line someone’s pockets.

  73. 89 claudine
    December 17, 2009 at 02:08

    They are trying to negotiate a legally binding agreement for all.

    Actually it should not be like that.
    Actually everyone should come….OK, lets do our best to reduce the production of green house gases because we want to do it. because it is the best for our future and for our children’s children future..

    It should not be necessary to force anyone into action.
    Everyone should be queuing up to do something, .the US in first place and say: how can we help? We start today reducing the CO2 output.

  74. 90 T
    December 17, 2009 at 02:31

    Here’s the reason there will be no agreement. The carbon trading market is the BIGGEST one in Europe right now. And everybody’s fighting for their share of it.

    Which means that a constructive agreeement comes second to capitalism.

  75. 91 guykaks.nairobi
    December 17, 2009 at 07:03

    I think this is politics in the making!climate change is just an opportunity to showcase our western imperilalism and might.

  76. 92 scmehta
    December 17, 2009 at 08:29

    No problem is too big to solve when your very survival is endangered; you are left with no option but to try whatever it takes to overcome it. Moreover, if we’re capable of creating huge problems for ourselves, then we sure damn well got to know to solve them; And the fact of the matter is that now WE ARE EARTHLY AND ETHICALLY BOUND TO DO SO.

  77. 93 wintergreen
    December 17, 2009 at 12:04

    @ Tom K in Mpls

    I dont believe I stated I was hoping for any such thing.
    Just pointing out the hypocrisy of asking for the west to be understanding towards their situation whilst being intolerant of the west.

  78. 94 piscator
    December 17, 2009 at 12:50

    Global warming is a total side issue, a complete red herring to draw peoples eyes away from population growth. You cannot think of a resource, pollution, or wealth problem on Earth that cannot be improved by a decrease in the population.

    Why is nobody talking about it? Two reasons.

    Firstly, power grows from population size. That’s why, in some countries, rival gangs are exhorting their followers to out breed the opposition.

    Secondly, classical economics does not know how to cope with a falling population, and frankly has never had the nerve to investigate it. They see population as a giant pyramid selling thing, and you know what happens to that in the end.

    GG and CC are real, but they are just a waste of everyone’s time and commitment if we want a future for the planet and all of it’s species.

  79. 95 K.bala
    December 17, 2009 at 14:47

    Nothing is impossible. Unfortunately all the developed nations are selfish,self centered and greedy.All of them are competing with each other to to be the most
    riches country in the world,They want to be on top and to achieve this position they do not mind sending the developing countries to the bottom.The so called developing countries are trying their best to be on top of each other. In that process no body seem to care as to what happens to to world at large.
    We blame the mafia crowd for their activities which causes considerable pain to those around them. But the activities of some nations are worse than that of the mafia.
    I would suggest that all nations -developed and developing’ to place a moratorium on their new industrial development for an year and assess the whether they have contributed something to prevent additional environmental pollution. which causes the climate change,
    The war in Afganistan, Iraq has caused/causing considerable pollution. I understand from Srilankans that indiscriminate bombing in the north of Srilanka has has considerably increased the number of Cancer patients there.

    I really appreciate the speech made by Prince Charles appealing to the nations to place their ‘signatures’ to find ways and means to mitigate the causes for climate change.

  80. 96 Frank in the USA
    December 17, 2009 at 15:05

    Why don’t we just plant trees all over the world to convert the CO2 to oxygen? Trees LOVE carbon dioxide.

  81. 97 Tom K in Mpls
    December 17, 2009 at 16:58

    Think of this, the prosperous companies/countries caused the issue. Prosperous schools/companies/nations identified the issue. The prosperous schools/companies/nations are leading in the practical resolution of the issue. This is how human development works, do, learn, adapt.

    Now schools and companies are working to develop and apply computer modeling to all aspects of our lives to reduce the impact of expensive, incorrect trials and go straight to learning. But our computer sciences are still very young.

  82. December 17, 2009 at 17:24

    Frank thank you for the most useful comment, unfortunately the world seems to be full of brainless people in select, expensive jobs.

    You have put forward the most simple, useful, cost effective proposal of all, in a few words too.

    But if the great idea is finally accepted as a main contribution, out will go the begging bowls and the subsidy application forms once more, expensive trees will be purchased and fortunes made.

    Yet your proposal could easily be carried to full advantage without a penny being spent, education and willingness to participate in saving our planet is all that is required.

    Parents and children can collect the seeds from trees and plant them either in pots or in favourite positions, this is a sound healthy project that is obviously one step forward in curbing Global warming, that is actually like The Curate”s egg quite good in parts. The useful Willow tree will grow quite quickly from small cuttings just stuck into reasonable soil.

    I collected the seeds of one fallen fir cone from a beautiful blue-green fir tree and eight beautiful new trees came into the world without a stroke of work being performed and the cost was absoutely nothing, no subsidy required.

    Best Wishes to all like minds, in full working order.
    Cheers H.

  83. 99 Ronald Almeida
    December 18, 2009 at 07:28

    Yes climate change is too big to solve because it would take every individual in the West to live not ‘on one $ a day’ but at least half of what they consume now. There is no technology that can help, for nature herself is the best technology.

  84. 100 Edmund Burke
    December 20, 2009 at 21:59

    The big scientific problem is distinguishing between natural climate change and man-made climate change. The fact that there are dead leaves under the receding ice-cap at the South Pole shows that there were once forests there. Conversely, the fjords of Norway were sculpted out by glaciers. So climate change has been happening on a massive scale for millions of years – long before humans arrived on the planet. Since we have as yet no means of distinguishing between “natural” climate change and “man-made” climate change, it would be silly to construct earth-shattering solutions for a problem not yet fully understood. Although I fully accept that journalists have to earn a living, I would suggest that there are both wise ways and foolish ways of doing so.

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