Scientists Warn, Politicians Scorn

The world’s leading scientists this week issued yet another statement urging immediate action on climate change. The latest call to action was authored by the Science Academies of all the G8 nations, as well as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa.

While all this has been said before, the world’s political leaders appear to have a hearing problem. Last week, US Senate killed the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act after Republican members forced the clerks to read the entire 492-page bill.

This ate up nine hours set aside for debate and led to an inevitable and ignoble defeat of the best effort yet by the US government to get serious about climate change. To add insult to injury, the Republicans’ claimed they were only protesting Democratic foot-dragging around Bush’s court nominations.

On the Canadian side of the border, Parliament passed a remarkable bill last week committing Canada to reducing greenhouse gases by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. This is what scientists are saying is required to deal meaningfully with this crisis. The only problem? The bill is meaningless because the ruling conservative party can ignore it since they not required to spend money on such “private members bills”.

The gulf between truth and action is closing – slowly. With a new president in the Whitehouse, hopefully some meaningful progress can be made to deal with climate change. The Conservative government in Canada is also badly out of step with public opinion on global warming. Last week, the two biggest provinces in Canada grew so fed up with perpetual inaction from Ottawa, they signed their own cap and trade deal.

Change is coming, but it seems to happening from the bottom up. Some day, national politicians may actually listen when the world’s leading scientists tell them it is reckless not to act. In the meantime, the fight continues.

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