Climate Change Summit – Copenhagen

19 12 2009

Alright, so everyone’s been talking about the recent climate change conference that occurred in Copenhagen this week.

Before i start my analysis, let’s begin with some information about what went on there, and more importantly, why their decisions were so crucial.

NPR gives us a briefing of what happened:

“Following an all-night session, negotiators from 193 countries reached consensus on supporting a deal brokered yesterday by President Obama and leaders from China, India, South Africa and Brazil. The five-party agreement — three pages of broad brushstrokes — was criticized by the industrialized nations of Europe and bitterly denounced by some developing nations of Africa and Asia. Still, the gathered world leaders reluctantly agreed to continue the global effort to limit the effects of human-caused carbon emissions on the world’s climate.

Key components of the core five-nation deal call for keeping temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050; creating a $100 billion-per-year fund by 2020 to help poor nations deal with the effects of climate change; and establishing some means of verifying if nations are doing their part to hold down carbon emissions.

President Obama was in Copenhagen for less than 24 hours. While in the Danish capital, Obama held a hurried series of bilateral and multilateral meetings with leaders from around the world, with all sides engaged in last-minute brinksmanship to avoid leaving Copenhagen empty-handed.

In the end, before a hurried trip home to beat a snowstorm sweeping up the East Coast, Obama claimed success: “For the first time in history,” the president said, “all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.” (Source: NPR.com , December 19, 2009, Stu Seidel.)

In essence, the “deals” that were made pretty much outraged everyone from the cynical liberals to the right wing optimists. An article written by Shamus Cooke expresses a lot of what people around the world are feeling about the outcome of this conference:

“To anybody interested in the future of the earth’s climate, the conclusion of the Copenhagen conference represents either colossal disappointment or profound rage.  The financial pledges— if honored— that rich nations made to poor nations will do nothing to combat global warming. The few climate related agreements that were made were of zero substance, especially when compared to what the situation demanded.

Contrary to the hopes of billions of people, the talks were a purely elite affair.   Many of the thousands of delegates sent to the conference were not looking to save the planet, as advertised, but were looking out for the national interest of their native governments. Most of these countries are dominated by the “special interests” of giant corporations.”

If you google the climate change summit, you’ll likely hear plenty of rants like this one, putting down our country, our nations’ decisions, and our president’s ability to get the job done. I think there is some merit in wanting the president to be more aggressive with his actions, but that’s about all that I agree with. We as a nation and as individuals have such a hard time putting ourselves in other people’s positions. Yes, sure, if we were the president we would do it better, and so forth. But we’re not. So we really don’t have a clear understanding of the pressure’s he is facing and, more importantly, he needs to keep a bond with other nations around the world. China, for example, is very intent on seeing their nation grow and prosper. They don’t want to put a legally binding policy on their nation that would be running their economy and people straight to nowhere. Although poverty rates have fallen significantly in the past decade, as of 2005, about 26.1 million Chinese people are still in abject poverty in rural areas and 22 million urban residents live on minimum living allowance. They are working to build their economy and grow stronger as a nation, just as we are.

I am not proposing, however, that they do not take responsibility for their share of the waste. Between China and the United States, we account for over half of the world’s greenhouse emissions. The future of the earth rests on our ability to cut down on those wastes, and no one really can say exactly how fast we need to do it. The main point is that we need to find a way to continue developing our nations while changing everything as soon as humanly possible to meet “green” standards from light bulb usage to the automotive industries to the newest and biggest sky scrapers. Check out, for example, the new City Center in Las Vegas.. The new City Center is a mixed-use, massive urban complex situated in the heart of Las Vegas.” Laying out the project with approximately 2,400 condominium and condo-hotel units and approximately 4,800 hotel rooms, distributed within several high-rise towers around The Crystals, an ultra high-end retail and entertainment district. It is designed to have all commodities for daily life, featuring a 4,000-room hotel and casino (Aria), two 400-room boutique hotels (The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, with 227 residential condo units, and the Harmon Hotel and Spa), a purely residential offering (Veer Towers), a condo-hotel (Vdara Condo-hotel) and a 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m2) retail and entertainment district which will house the first grocery store directly on the Strip. The multi-use project is being designed with green technologies to make it one of the world’s largest environmentally sustainable urban communities. Plans include the use of reclaimed water, and an on-site power plant. MGM Mirage is pursuing LEED certification for the project as outlined by the U.S. Green Building Council.” Source: http://www.citycenter.com

If you were a big building contractor or an architect, designer, or just someone who wanted to make a whole lot of money and you came to somebody and told them that you wanted to build a 76 acre urban city inside of Las Vegas in under 5 years, completely eco-freindly, and costing roughly 8.5 billion dollars, you can bet someone would laugh so hard they would have a heart attack. A feat such as this is as rare as it is crucial to the self esteem of our government and our country. If we can jet ourselves head first into the future while using green technologies and cutting down on the use of our precious resources, well, so can the rest of the world. You can’t tell me that China doesn’t have the money or the incredibly talented and intelligent architects, scientists, and inventors to change the course of our planet. We both have those skill sets and resources as two huge nations, and we need to utilize them. The importance of this change goes way beyond a legally binding agreement or one climate conference. It will take an entire nations’ population to begin to support green technology and help heal the earth before it’s too late. It will involve community service projects and university degrees that are designed for green living and studying the benefits and creation of new, environmentally friendly technologies. It will involve outreach projects and news broadcasts that capture our hard working citizens and talk to them about the importance of this issue. Everyone must be involved and working towards the same goal, along with the knowledge to back it up. “Green living” must evolve from a chic trend into a necessary lifestyle change for all people, and it has to happen fast.

That’s all for now.

Sincerely,

Your Analyst

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Obama’s Plan of Action

12 12 2009

Afghan Refugees, photo taken by Elizabeth Rubin

If you’re like any of the thousands of Americans who watched President Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday, December 1st, you’re probably struggling a bit with whether to be upset by the new plan of action, or content with it. Most people seem to be a little bit of both.  He didn’t use words like “victory.” Instead he spoke about peace, understanding, and he tried to allow us to understand where exactly he was coming from. It was quite different from any other war speech i’ve heard, that’s for certain.

Sources such as the Los Angeles Times have a very cynical view of the whole effort:

“All a carefully-calculated, well-phrased tactical talk. But no words of winning a victory for the war’s immense dollar costs — $30 billion more just for the latest surge this fiscal year. Or for all the lives and limbs lost so far — and the additional losses yet to come, possibly from among his audience of young Army cadets.

Meaning what? This is really a holding action? The professorial president doesn’t expect victory? He’s uncomfortable with talk of actually winning a war that he’s sending more troops into?” (Source: The Los Angeles Times, December 2nd, 2009, Written by Andrew Malcolm )

Time Magazine, for example, is able to see the positive notes of his new strategy:

“The president laid out the circumstances where war is justified — in self-defense, to come to the aid of an invaded nation and on humanitarian grounds, such as when civilians are slaughtered by their own government or a civil war threatens to engulf an entire region.

“The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it,” he said.

(Source: Time Magazine, Thursday, December 10th, Written by AP/Ben Feller )
Time magazine in a recent article also compared Obama’s war plan to Nixon’s, though. The article reflected on how it seemed as though instead of bludgeoning our enemies to death, ( such as in a George Bush war strategy,) Obama has decided to try and make peace with them. It has been questionable whether this tactic is because Obama has a different set of agendas for the US, or whether it’s because we have finally realized that we simply cannot defeat terrorism altogether. Either way, in my opinion, anything is a better strategy than going into enemy lines and blowing up everything in sight. Although, some may argue that’s exactly what we’re doing anyway.
In a surprisingly in-depth and informative article written in Vogue Magazine, December Issue, 2009, war correspondent Elizabeth Rubin heads into the deepest and scariest parts of the war in Afghanistan, three months pregnant. Not only are her fellow soldiers not supportive, but while she’s in the front lines of the war, she gets to experience first-hand the women and children in Afghanistan who are dying in this war and what they really think about our efforts to invade their country and stop the Taliban:




Welcome to the Analyst

12 12 2009

Good morning!

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From the optimistic philanthropist to the tech-savvy cynic, generation Y-ers have always been pegged with the burden and excitement of taking on a new frontier. As we approach a new decade, the ever-changing facets of technology fly by us faster than we can blink. But if you were lucky enough to have grown up using AIM on dial-up internet, got a cell phone for your thirteenth birthday, or listened to your ipod in the hallways of your high-school, then you can keep up with the changing times like you were blindfolded. You have also developed what I like to call the “multi-task gene,” which allows us more evolved humans to simultaneously text, change our facebook status, cook dinner, revise an essay, listen to an album of an emerging artist, and order that birthday gift online for your best friend. Oh yeah, and somewhere in there I think we find time to sleep. Sometimes.

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Sincerely,

Your Analyst