Last week I was up in Lake Tahoe for some skiing with the family. It’s a great thing that I love spending time with the fam off the slopes because for the first time since 1883, nearby Reno had no precipitation in December. Needless to say, there wasn’t much snow on the mountains.
I travel quite a bit and I have to say that everywhere I go, I hear anecdotal accounts of funky weather patterns and unexpected season changes. The most dramatic, universal trend that I’ve observed world-wide is that seasonal climates have started to shift to a month later than normal. June gloom comes in July; the July monsoon arrives in August and there are no April showers to bring May flowers (June blooms are all the rage though). Whether or not you believe in global warming, there is definitely some weird weather going on.
Fortunately our governments are eager to attack the issue…later. First they must solve the financial crisis and elect themselves president. Europe, who is in the worst financial spot is leading the charge on climate change. They recently decided to charge airlines traveling to/from Europe a fees to offset carbon emissions. Still, this is a small drop in the bucket with what needs to happen to achieve the reductions necessary.
Last month, world leaders met in Durban, South Africa for the United Nations climate-change summit. The goal was to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol with a stronger agreement. To this end, the summit more or less failed. As the Economist reports, the Indians held out until the end in order to remove the legally-binding component of the new agreement. Unfortunately the primary problem with the Kyoto Protocol was that it had no teeth; regardless of what was promised countries were able to continue polluting as much as they wanted. America never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and Canada “missed its target massively, with impunity” according to the Economist.
In short, India & China refuse to cooperate with a legally binding agreement to fight climate change because it may hamper economic growth. The US is unenthusiastic for probably the same reasons. Meanwhile, the rest of the developing world, particularly African nations, recognize that climate-change will hurt them the most & thus are very hopeful for an agreement.
The bottom line is that collectively the governments of the world value the voice of the market more than the potential ramifications of on-going pollution. This is likely to lead to social problems at the bottom of the pyramid as farmers suffer from changing rainy seasons and as the frequency of natural disasters increases.
Nevertheless, you don’t need to be discouraged. This simply means that the answer is in your hands. If governments value the voice of the market, then the market must speak—and demand—products and services that are provided in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
Take matters into your own hands!