THE EARTH HAS A FEVER
If a change in protecting the atmosphere fails at the World Climate summit in Copenhagen, 200 million climate refugees could wander over our globe.
By Franz Alt
[This article published in: Freitag 12/8/2009 is translated from the German on the Internet, link to www.freitag.de.]
Worldwide 136 cities of millions at the coasts are directly endangered by the rising sea level. We must reckon with damages of over 18 trillion euro, a new study warns. Droughts and water shortage threaten in California and Southern Europe. Damages through forest fires will multiply tenfold. Climate change promotes belligerent conflicts in Africa is temperatures south of the Sahara rise one degree Celsius - as predicted. Researchers warn of civil wars in Africa. The World Climate council fears that 200 million climate refugees could roam over our globe by the middle of the 21st century if change in protecting the atmosphere fails at the climate summit in Copenhagen.
With ambitious climate protection goals, Germany and the European Union participate in this conference that could be the most important in the history of humanity. Chancellor Merkel sees protection of the atmosphere as a "survival question of humanity." But what will the US do? The US inflicts twice as much climate damage as Europeans.
President Barack Obama is now stuck in the climate trap. In the election campaign, he exclaimed, "Yes, we can" on the climate theme. Now it appears he c cannot even if he wants change. A corresponding law passed the House of Representatives but will be first debated by the Senate in the spring of 2010. Without this law, the president cannot really be obliged to anything. His hands are tied politically. On his brief trip to Copenhagen, he will offer to reduce greenhouse gases 17 percent by 2020 compared to 2005. However this is not real progress since the US increased its emissions 17 percent between 1990 and 2005.
His most important domestic measure, health care reform, is more important than protecting the atmosphere at the moment. The president cannot win a two-front war against the conservatives. Whatever is resolved in Copenhagen, the White House can only commit to an effective and internationally binding agreement protecting the atmosphere in the early summer of 2010 at the earliest. In Copenhagen, he can only give declarations of intent - like Al Gore twelve years ago in Kyoto.
But as long as the US is not committed, India and China will refuse their signature. They point out that one US citizen uses three times as much energy as a Chinese and six times as much as a person in India. A binding agreement could first come about in 2010 if at all. It could be just as slack as the Kyoto protocol. The climate will become worse, not better. There will certainly be a resolution in Copenhagen. Then the next conference will be scheduled!
BUSINESSES OF TOMORROW
To bailout banks, trillions of dollars were made available worldwide in a few days. The world community acted quickly and efficiently. Protection of the atmosphere is regarded as less important even though everyone knows the financial crisis is a problem of two years while the climate crisis is the problem of the next thousand years. The earth has a fever but the treatment is postponed again. Copenhagen will show that real climate protection only succeeds from below, regionally and nationally. A good example is contagious.
At the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, the new German environment minister Norbert Rottgen declared Germany in 2050 could be supplied nearly 100 percent with renewable energy. If the political will exists, this could happen by 2035. In the last five years, renewables have grown much faster than optimists expected. This could bring two million new future-friendly jobs. The supporters of solar energy are millions of homeowners, the middle class, farmers and artisans, not the four energy suppliers. Over 100 German regions and communes including six districts in Bavaria have already resolved to be completely renewable by 2030. Munich is the first city of millions in Germany that will only produce and supply eco-electricity in 15 years. The industrial country that first creates a 100 percent structural energy change will have the businesses of tomorrow - as Japan today with hybrid- and electric-car mobility. An ecological economic miracle is possible. In the fall of 2009, 19 percent of electricity in Germany will be produced ecologically.
CLIMATE CRASH, ECONOMIC CRISIS AND GROWTH
By Fritjof Capra, Hazel Henderson, Andreas Exner and Sabine Reiner
[This article is translated from the German on the Internet, www.rosalux.de/cms/index.php?id=publikationen.]
A "growth-acceleration law" was passed in Germany, taz reported on 11/10/2009, 20 years after the destruction of the supposed command socialist alternative. This was the first measure of the government coalition of the CDU/CSU and the FDP. Although the connection of multiple economic and ecological crises is emphasized after the near collapse of the financial markets, there is only one way out of the economic crisis from the perspective of the German government shortly before the World Climate summit in Copenhagen that failed before it began: growth. The global economic crisis only caused a minimal cut in CO2 emissions. Emissions actually increased two percent in 2008 and 2.8 percent in 2009. In previous years despite 30 years of environmental policy and more efficient technologies, the emission of climate-relevant gases and consumption of raw materials was accelerated and not reduced. According to the IPCC World Climate board, this corresponds to the worst-case scenario of a threatening warming of six degrees Celsius. The two-degree goal of a supposedly manageable climate change is already missed.
"Every attempt to restart capitalist growth - including the Green New Deal - is in direct contradiction to solving the bio-crisis," as Stefan Kaufmann and Tadzio Muller explain in their recent study on "Green Capitalism" for the Rosa Luxemburg foundation (RLS 2009). "No ecological economy is possible without growth satisfaction," Wolfgang Sachs from the Wuppertal Institute said in a debate over the Green New Deal in the Luxemburg journal (1.2009). However he continued, "Whoever reads the growth chapter in our book will see there are more questions than certainties. Perhaps we succeeded in skillfully veiling this... We have no answer to these questions."
Growth must end. From an ecological perspective, material production must shrivel. But is capitalism possible without growth? How can a system change occur? Can a qualitative or selective growth save us? Are transitions to an ecological transformation conceivable? A debate around these questions has slackened in the council for real politics - the future commission of the RLS.
"Qualitative Growth" by Fritjof Capra and Hazel Henderson
"Efficiency Shifting" by Conrad Schmidt
"Global Turn Around"