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Global warming: The meek take on the mighty

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  • yank_canuck
    Posted with relqation to the issue of rising seas in GLK (though Feral, I believe, is not comnvinced that it will affect us) The meek take on the mighty by
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 21, 2004
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      Posted with relqation to the issue of rising seas in GLK (though
      Feral, I believe, is not comnvinced that it will affect us)

      The meek take on the mighty
      by Linda McQuaig
      Rabble.ca, Dec. 20, 2004

      For those who enjoy a good David-and-Goliath confrontation, it
      doesn't get much better than this.

      In one corner, we have the White House and Exxon; in the other,
      some of the most powerless people on the face of the Earth ˜
      including the Inuit of the Canadian north.

      But what makes this mismatched confrontation particularly
      riveting is what's at stake: nothing less than the future viability of
      the planet.

      Indeed, in one of the strangest twists in world politics today, it
      seems to have fallen to a group of extremely powerless people
      in far-flung corners of the globe to carry forward the fight to save
      the planet from the looming catastrophe of global warming.

      By any reasonable measure, global warming is one of the most
      serious problems the human race faces. Our reckless
      over-consumption of fossil fuels ˜ particularly oil and coal ˜ is
      causing the accumulation of heat-trapping „greenhouse‰ gases
      in the atmosphere, potentially wreaking havoc with the world's
      climate.

      A study on global warming commissioned by the Pentagon ˜ and
      leaked to the media last February ˜ described scenarios in which
      rising sea levels leave European cities submerged under water,
      while other parts of the globe are hit with extremes of heat and
      cold, typhoons, mega-droughts and famines. „Humanity would
      revert to its norm of constant battles for diminishing resources,‰
      noted the Pentagon analysis. „Once again, warfare would define
      human life.‰

      But while some inside the Pentagon seem to grasp the
      seriousness of the problem, the Bush administration has sided
      with the fossil fuel industry, which disputes the scientific
      evidence on global warming.

      In fact, the global warming phenomenon has been verified by
      thousands of scientists who have participated in lengthy,
      worldwide scientific reviews conducted by the United Nations
      and the World Meteorological Organization. Their findings are
      accepted by all but a tiny group, led by oil giant Exxon, which has
      waged a vigorous and well-financed campaign against
      international efforts to fight global warming.

      Throughout the 1990s, Washington was involved in those
      international efforts to tackle global warming, but that changed
      abruptly when George W. Bush took office in 2001. Within a few
      months, Bush announced the U.S. would not ratify Kyoto, the
      international treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse gas
      emissions.

      Most of the industrialized world (including Canada) has now
      ratified Kyoto, which will come into effect next February. This is a
      tiny step toward solving the global warming problem.

      But Washington's continuing refusal to support Kyoto risks
      jeopardizing even this tiny step, since the U.S. is the world's
      biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Indeed, gas-guzzling
      Americans are responsible for 25 per cent of worldwide
      emissions ˜ even though they make up only 5 per cent of the
      world's population.

      Any meaningful plan to tackle global warming has to include the
      United States.

      But, with Bush's re-election, the prospects for bringing the mighty
      polluter into line seem increasingly dim. Indeed, the world
      community seems to have largely given up trying.

      Enter the powerless people of the world.

      Located in particularly vulnerable regions, these people stand to
      be among the first victims of global warming. The
      155,000-strong Inuit of the Arctic, for instance, fear that melting
      ice will destroy the seal hunt, their traditional means of survival.
      Similarly, the people of Tuvalu ˜ a teensy, low-lying island in the
      South Pacific ˜ fear being swamped by rising sea levels.

      Together the Inuit and the Tuvaluans, with help from
      environmental groups, are hoping to convince the Organization
      of American States that the U.S. is threatening their existence
      with its cavalier attitude toward global warming.

      A declaration from the OAS wouldn't have any enforcement
      powers, but it could create a basis for future lawsuits, against
      either the U.S. or corporations like Exxon. The idea would be to
      model the lawsuits after the highly successful cases brought
      against the tobacco industry.

      It's a bold plan, but, needless to say, the Inuit and the Tuvaluans
      aren't exactly heavy hitters with deep pockets.

      Tuvalu boasts a population of just 11,000 and an annual GDP of
      $22 million. Its national treasury received a huge boost when the
      country managed in 2000 to sell the rights to its internet domain
      name ˜ tv ˜ for $50 million.

      But little Tuvalu is not without courage. Two years ago, it
      threatened to take the U.S. to the International Court of Justice
      over global warming, even though it relies on Washington for
      foreign aid.

      Certainly, when it comes to standing up to the American empire,
      the world could learn a thing or two from Tuvalu.

      Let's hope that the Inuit and the Tuvaluans have a pretty good
      slingshot; the future of the planet may depend on it.

      Originally published by The Toronto Star Linda McQuaig's
      column usually appears every Monday.
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