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Road to Copenhagen - Part 1: Doing the Climate Shuffle





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There’s a familiar dance being performed on the world stage. It’s called the Climate Shuffle. It has been going on for decades, but more people are watching now and every nation is practicing the steps.

The dance is not complicated. The goal is to get everybody dancing together, a kind of Clean Electric Slide. But first, insist you won’t get on the dance floor until everybody does. If you get there and find that everyone is doing his own thing, try the Unilateral Slide (one step forward, two steps back, moving in circles). Most of all, be prepared to dance fast because the music is speeding up.

In this strained metaphor, the music is the increasing pace of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. As it turns out, the scientific evidence on which negotiators and policy makers have depended – particularly the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – significantly underestimated the speed at which global warming is occurring.

Poor and low-lying nations already are suffering its effects. Some of the first climate refugeesare being forced from their ancestral islands in the South Pacific because of rising sea levels. Livestock is dying in parts of Africa parched by drought.

The World Health Organization estimated earlier this year that 150,000 deaths occur annually in low-income countries due to climate-related crop failure, malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, malaria and flooding. Nearly 85 percent of the dead are young children.

Rich nations are not exempt. In June, the U.S. government’s Global Change Science Program reported to Congress that damaging climate impacts are here and likely to get worse. Continued...


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