At the risk of appearing a doom-monger – we’re all doomed.
That disclosure is based on the opinion of the world’s leading climatologists, all 2,500 of them, who’ve been holding an emergency meeting in Copenhagen.
Condemning political leaders for their utter inability to grasp the inevitable effects of doing nothing, Nicholas Stern, the man commissioned by British prime minister Gordon Brown to analyze the impact of climate change and report back to the government, called for:
[a] shift from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society”.
Or, to put it more bluntly: over the last decade, governments throughout the world have done little, and achieved nothing, to control the carbon emissions driving climate change.
We all know George W Bush’s inactivity was not only lackadaisical, but criminal, given that he signed bills into law with no regard to their negative impact on the environment. Europe’s leaders have been less candid, but even Britain’s substantial decrease in emissions has only been achieved by outsourcing their pollution to other countries, particularly China.
In private, scientists are admitting the race to confine the Earth’s temperature increase to two degrees has already been lost. Publicly, their stance is to push politicians into acting, by the suggestion that radical measures – enforced now, rather than in 2020 or 2050 – may slow the increase and pin it at two or three degrees.
Behind the closed doors of Copenhagen, the mutterings are decidedly more ominous. Science has now moved away from assessing the effects of a two or three degree global rise, and is instead investigating our chances of survival following a mean increase of four to six degrees.
At such temperatures, large numbers of the human race will perish from starvation. Half the world’s food source will become unusable. Social unrest will likely be on a scale defying description.
To quote one of the world’s leading environmental journalists:
Yes, it might already be too late – even if we reduced emissions to zero tomorrow – to prevent more than two degrees of warming, but we cannot behave as if it is, for in doing so we make the prediction come true. Tough as this fight may be, improbable as success might seem, we cannot afford to surrender.”
Unfortunately, “to surrender” implies we’re fighting a battle. So far, our leaders have appeared content to restrict their actions to some minor diplomatic wrangling with God.
 “Stern attacks politicians over climate ‘devastation'” Guardian, March 13th 2009
 “Too Good To Be True? The UK’s Climate Change Record” December 10th 2007
 “A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” Monbiot.com, March 17, 2009