Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Climate Conference: Copenhagen, 2009

by Kimberly Leifker

As Americans, we have been taught to look for temporary solutions to long-term goals. In light of the Global Climate Change Conference happening in Copenhagen, I must point to this simple fact immediately. We are skeptical of the term gas emission, fuel sources, sustainability, and going green. These have all become a trend, as though the latest canvas bag is just another fashion statement. I think we fail to recognize the underlining issues of this new trend. And I do not believe that we have looked ahead. Just because the effects created by our carbon emissions, our heaping wastelands of un-recycled goods, and careless use of food, water, and electricity are not immediately visible in our daily lives this does not mean that it is not there. And just because we do not experience the effects firsthand as of yet, or because we are skeptical of this immediate and grave danger, this does not mean that we should leave this planet knowing that we did not even attempt to. Our acknowledgment and attendance to environmental issues is imperative right NOW. The money we will be spending and the efforts we will be making will cost less money now to take care of, then later when the significant damage has already been done.

The conference in Copenhagen is significant for many reasons. Not only are we attempting to make progress in reducing carbon emissions, but we are recognizing the immediacy of the environmental situation we have on our hands. The conference in Copenhagen has the potential to change history. In 2005, many countries joined an international treaty pledging to reduce global warming. Recently, a several nations approved an addition to the Kyoto Protocol which is more legally binding ( As we know, the Bush administration failed to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 2005. President Obama speaks openly about the U.S.'s commitment to reduce emissions and to act quickly and seriously in regards to the climate crisis. Congress has been working to shell out legislation regarding climate change and the control of emissions. Industrialized countries need to recognize the significance of reaching an agreement. They must recognize their impact on the environmental and the impact that it will have on island nations when the sea levels begin to rise. Substantial numbers of people will be displaced. More time, energy, and money will have to be spent on picking up the pieces and we will have only ourselves to blame.

While we cannot erase the damage that has already been done due to the massive amounts of emissions we have put forth to the atmosphere already, this conference has the ability to reduce the amount in the future. These laws and agreements must be enacted immediately so that the damage will not be worse. The transformations that will take place will be unbelievable and we are not prepared for their effects. Our trend in going green cannot be just a fashion statement or a fad. It must be permanent and it must not be limited to canvas bags in a grocery store. Our individual actions have real consequences on the environment. If we do not recognize these consequences immediately and begin to advocate for change in areas of waste, emissions, and fuel usage we will be in grave danger. And no short term plan and solution will ever be able to save us.