Copenhagen- Will it make any difference?

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Today, hundreds of world leaders, media outlets, scientists and environmentalists descend on Copenhagen, Denmark, for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

It is not clear is what will be accomplished in Copenhagen over the next few weeks. In the news and media recently there have been raging debates over leaked emails by scientists,  speculation from climate deniers,  fear mongering in articles in the Wall Street Journal, and a proliferation of confusion experienced by most common observers.

Is climate change man made? Do humans have an effect on the environment or not? Is the rate of deforestation and Green House Gas emissions (GHG)  in the environment a problem? And if so, who should be responsible to fix this problem? How will this impact the global economic system?

Summits, protocols and declarations have been forged in the past, all of them leading to the conference in Copenhagen. Previous accords have been The Bali Action Plan, The Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy, The Framework Convention -Earth Summit Rio (1992) and The Kyoto Protocol(1997).

The Earth Summit resulted in the following documents:

The Stockholm declaration -(1972):

6. A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with a more prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through ignorance or indifference we can do massive and irreversible harm to the earthly environment on which our life and well being depend…..To defend and improve the human environment for present and future generations has become an imperative goal for mankind-a goal to be pursued together with, and in harmony with,  the established and fundamental goals of peace and of worldwide economic and social development.

7. To achieve this environmental goal will demand the acceptance of responsibility by citizens and communities and by enterprises and institutions at every level, all sharing equitably in common efforts. Individuals in all walks of life as well as organisations in many fields, by their values and the sum of their actions, will shape
the world environment of the future.

One thing is clear, the industrial revolution has had an impact on the environment.  Industry is responsible for pollution ( chemical, biological and nuclear), soil erosion, deforestation, desertification, food dependence from further reaching sources,  all the while creating a culture of mass consumerism with no end in sight.

Does this mean a New World Order?   The economy is global, there is a need for the nations of the world, especially the developed nations, to take responsibility for our history and  lead in forging new paths to sustainability.  Our success in the world markets through exploitation and disregard for consequences must end here.

There is a lot at stake in Denmark this month. There is an expectation and a need for the “leaders” of  this century to ratify an agreement that holds the appropriate people responsible (corporations, governments) while imploring citizens of the world to take action in their everyday lives.

Developing nations deserve an equal share of the economic cake, and need to sustain meaningful participation in global economics. All citizens deserve a chance for a prosperous, healthy future, and that is the only result that is acceptable.

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