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William La Jeunesse

Los Angeles, CA

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Front Seat at Copenhagen Conference

December 15, 2009 - 12:18 PM | by: William La Jeunesse

Global Warming Causes … Everything?

While most of us won’t trust a weather report more than a few hours, scientists at the climate summit in Copenhagen expect us to accept their predictions for 100 years into the future.

And while some skeptics still wonder if man made global warming is real, for the disciples of this religion, there is no doubt.

If you believe what we’re told, already climate change has led to higher rates of prostitution in the Philippines, HIV in Africa, suicide in Italy, heart disease in China, war in the Middle East and terrorism…not to mention a loss of polar bears, pandas, gorillas and geckos, droughts, hurricanes, melting glaciers and rising oceans.

Scare tactics? Even some who believe in global warming say exaggerating its impact damages credibility.

But why let facts get in the way of good story? Money. Billions of dollars in aid and income are riding on the outcome of Copenhagen.

If global warming is real, and human caused, look out. Everything you do, where you go, how you live, what you eat – will carry a cost.

Clock Watching in Copenhagen

“We don’t have very much time. The clock is ticking like a big hourglass.”

That’s the word from Todd Stern, chief negotiator for the U.S. climate team in Copenhagen this week, where delegations from around the world have been trying to work out their considerable differences before their bosses show up later this week.

“This is completely unprecedented,” Stern said of the 120-plus world leaders who have committed to attending the summit.

In past conferences, ministers and negotiators handled the finer points of the framework document, and the heads of state simply showed up at the signing ceremony.

But that’s not the case here. World leaders begin showing up on Wednesday, and there is still much left to be done.

“We’ve made some progress, but we still have a long way to go,” said Stern.

The presence of so many attendees and interest groups has only added to the confusion.

Because of overflow crowds, U.N. officials have cut the number of non-diplomats allowed inside the Bella Center, the conference headquarters. The Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental groups here, was reportedly told to cut its number of observers from 40 to 13.

Crowds… and Confusion

With more than 30,000 attendees, the climate conference is about the size of a crowd at a major league baseball game. But not as organized.

The meetings here are closed, negotiations are secret, there’s not much of a fixed agenda, and only a handful of scientists actually understand what everyone is talking about.

But one thing is clear: climate change is big business. The halls are filled with lobbyists, associations and national delegations’ presentations.

In one corner is Tuvulu, which is running a video showing the Pacific Ocean island inundated by the salt water of the rising oceans. Tuvulu is looking for money to “mitigate” what they call a disaster in the making.

The U.S. has a booth as well. Its brochure reads: “Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the planet,” but notes President Barack Obama is doing “more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than ever before.”

Women in Europe for a Common Future is here as well. They’re against nuclear power. Then there’s the International Gas union, which argues fossil fuels can be environmentally friendly.

But the conference is dominated by hundreds of environmental groups that get their grant money from governments and foundations – some of whom clearly have conflicting interests.

The Global Gender Climate Alliance, for example, claims climate change worsens the inequalities between men and women.

Another group claims the Cap and Trade program favored by President Obama and many in the U.S. Congress is a sham, that actually reaps profits for developed nations by evicting native populations and destroying forests in developing areas.

Some here claim large groups like the World Wildlife Fun and the Nature Conservancy, big environmental groups, are actually in bed with oil companies, and are just out to make money through carbon credits.

Another group, Timberwatch, also says cap and trade credits – known as CDM’s, or clean development mechanisms, actually destroy grasslands. Tree plantations that are supposed to act like carbon sinks destroy biodiversity, the say, and reduce water for indigenous peoples.

The Rainforest Alliance criticizes both the US and the European union for mandating ethanol and biodiesel over gasoline. They say planting vast tracts of soybeans, sugar cane and palm oil uses too much land.

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