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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 15:19 GMT
Global warming: Where do we go from here?

The United Nations World Climate Conference in the Netherlands has ended in failure. World leaders cannot agree on how to cut emissions of the gases blamed for global warming.

Environmentalists say governments have abandoned their promise to co-operate to protect planet Earth.

Who is to blame for the breakdown and where do we go from here?

This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.

US citizens should really take a good look at their own lifestyles

Nigel Grensitt, UK
It's interesting how the majority of the US contributors to this discussion blame everyone else, deny the existence of global warming and say that if they were to reduce their CO2 emissions it would cause the world economy to collapse etc. My wife (who is from Pittsburgh) and myself took a trip back there last summer. I was amazed at the rampant consumerism and waste there. Remember it is not just cars that emit greenhouse gasses, it is also the factories that produce packaging, air conditioners, farm equipment - the list goes on. US citizens should really take a good look at their own lifestyles, not complain if the price of fuel is doubled and not be so insular. They may be a Superpower now, but so was the USSR once and look at it now.
Nigel Grensitt, UK

Who is to blame for environmental problems? No one else but those who create primary and high school curricula. If Mr Bush and those who think alike had acquired a minimal amount of knowledge about the importance of preserving biodiversity and environment in school, then now we would not be concerned with survival of our children in the 21st century.
Jure, Croatia

Change the ideas in our heads may help. And we all share any blame.
Robert, UK

The world has under gone many climate changes through out history, this is just one of them. You people need to get lives and stop blaming the US For all the worlds problems. The United states is responsible to The United States. Not England or any other country, if Americans pollute too much so what there is nothing you can do about it.
Landen, United States of America

Now is the time for all concerned NGOs to pull together to mount a massive campaign

Allister, Barbados
I believe now is the time for all concerned NGOs to pull together, as WWF, FoE and Greenpeace did at the Hague, and use the time between now and next year's ultimate climate change conference to mount a massive (and I mean massive) campaign. People are becoming increasingly fed up with politicians that continue to let them down. Embarrassment is the key and I think that world leaders should not be allowed to get away with doing nothing about climate change. We know that and they know that.
Allister, Barbados, WI

I take exception to these doomsayers. The human race is not overpopulated and we are not headed for global disaster. The Earth has managed to support life for millions if not billions of years. The problem is that too many people still live in Marxist societies which squander resources and oppress people. As for global warming, there isn't any scientific evidence that it's even happening.
Sam E, Texas

There are just too many of us living on this planet. Can half of you please get off at the next stop?
Steve, UK

If John Prescott really cares about the claims of the climate change brigade he could start by abandoning his ministerial Jaguars and taking the train. He seems to expect the rest of us to do just that.
John B, UK

There is a sad inevitability that it will take many years for the facts of global warming to be accepted and the remedies then actioned. Sad because global warming will have accelerated to a destructive pace by the time we take it seriously enough to stabilise the world's climate. The poor will suffer the most and action will happen only when the rich and powerful actually start to suffer too.
Dr. Malcolm Lyons, UK

I don't believe anyone is to blame for the failure of the talks and what use is all the finger-pointing at the US anyway? Are insults likely to make them change their mind? What is clear to me is that basic science is still not conclusive that man is to blame for climate change or even that climate change is occurring. Until the case is made to the satisfaction of a currently sceptical nation, it is useless to try to decide how to go forward. It would make great sense to me cancel the next round of talks and use the money to fund a proper independent review of the science.
Richard Jones, Holland

There is too much scaremongering going on

Stuart Robinson, England
There is too much scaremongering going on. There is evidence that the Earth has gone through these climatic cycles before. Lead in fuel has been blamed but the biggest output was from a mine in Spain between 200BC and 200AD. There is evidence that more lead was in the atmosphere than from all of that consumed by cars since cars were first built! Also the biggest atmospheric catastrophe was Krakatoa which had a nine year minimum effect worldwide. The atmosphere goes in cycles. Please have a more balanced view - it was only in 1986 that scientists were predicting another ice age! So who is right?
Stuart Robinson, England

Yes, the American government should be doing more to reduce their contribution to planetary pollution but in a small way we are all to blame and each of us can do more to help the situation. Look at the number of people who refuse to give up their cars and use public transport just so it saves them a little inconvenience. I'm one of them. We are essentially selfish creatures. The reason more is not being done is because the major problems won't occur until we are dead and buried so why should we worry about it. It's a terrible attitude but unfortunately part of what makes us human.

If mankind dies out as a result of the way we are treating the planet then it will not be an unnatural death. It will just be part of the natural evolutionary process.
Steve, UK

Victims of our own interventions and innovations?

Elizabeth Biddlecombe, UK
Does anyone else feel that Armageddon is coming? Global climate change, genetically modified substances entering the food chain, kids on drugs for attention deficit disorder, depleted sperm counts - just some random examples from a long list. Is it simply that we have more developed analytical tools and concepts to identify and concern ourselves with these issues than we used to or are we going the way of the dinosaurs, victims of our own interventions and innovations?
Elizabeth Biddlecombe, UK

I think the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is riddled with faulty assumptions and invalid aims. It should be rejected in toto. If indeed emissions cause warming (not established), then let the major culprits (the US) lead the way. The Convention is a sure way to make the poor even poorer. It is a scam, a fraud, perpetrated by the rich against the helpless.
Derek, USA

Most of the global warming originates from fossil-fuel burning. The world's developing nations are projected to burn more than half of the fuels by 2020. Without increasing their awareness of the dangers that the climate change will bring about and compensating their immediate concerns for local environmental problems all the negotiations become too academic. Political manoeuvring and posturing have to be set aside. It is a matter of life and death. There is no other earth to live on. Time is to act on all fronts at the same time not for us but for our children and grandchildren.
Mehmet Ogutcu, Turkey

I think there's hope that our attitude and actions will change

Elliot Taylor, US

What's been going on in the news lately has lifted my spirits, because before I'd assumed no large body of people was concerned with global warming. While I'm as upset and embarrassed as anyone about the US's reluctance to take any responsibility for global warming or to take any measures to slow it, I think there's hope that our attitude and actions will change.

Sure, many of our citizens are so uneasy about the government interfering with their lives/business that they'd oppose any government regulation. However, if these people were led to believe that in the long run it would be profitable to start using and investing in alternative energy, then you might see some action from them. If American business as a whole felt that it was missing out on the next big technological revolution (and with it, the next big business opportunity), it would do whatever it could to save the Earth. Hearing more and more legitimate international sources play up the importance of global warming may eventually change attitudes here in the States.
Elliot Taylor, US

Urgent action is required to control the human population

Les Bruce, Scotland
I agree wholeheartedly with Dudley Booth in Canada. The underlying problem is that of pressure on the environment from an ever-increasing human population. Until mankind comes to his senses and recognises he's not the only species on this planet, biodiversity will suffer, life as we know it will disappear and the whole planet will go down the pan! Urgent action is required to control the human population otherwise nature will do this in the form of a major catastrophic disaster.
Les Bruce, Scotland

Will historians look back at 'Global Warming' and reflect upon it as being nothing but a lot of hot air?
A.K. Bateup, UK

York has just had floods due to global warming. So now the planners are recommending a shopping scheme they hope will attract people to drive even longer distances to shop and cause more global warming. Yes it does seem too late.
Geoff Beacon, York, UK

All we can do is prepare sensibly

Mike Mitchell, USA
Climate changes that have occurred long before humans even appeared on Earth make the little perturbation we see now look like a walk in the park. To say that we are somehow responsible for it or otherwise able to control it is a reaffirmation of our greatest weakness - our vanity. All we can do is prepare sensibly, pray and sincerely hope that whatever happens will not be enough to extinct our race like other species that have already come and gone.
Mike Mitchell, USA

Why are we not encouraged to use solar power for domestic use? The governments of each of the countries present at the Conference should offer solar kits at a discount to everyone who would like to convert.
Anon, Norway

Where do we go after the world's leaders cannot agree on how to protect the planet? Simple: extinction.
John Yates, Finland

They aren't acting to save the world, just their meal ticket

Wpeak, Texas
The reason why the talks failed is because, unlike what they say to us and the media, the people at the talks don't really believe in global warming. They aren't acting to save the world, just their meal ticket. They find a crisis and then tell us they will fix it - for a fee of course. They are alarmists and opportunists. What they most definitely are not are climate scientists. Whether you believe in global warming or not, remember, these people gain power, prestige and lots of money from the pose of combating global warming. Do you really think they want this issue to go away? Look for the next round to start soon. At taxpayers' expense and in the best hotels.
Wpeak, Texas

Having visited the US several times, it's obvious that their lifestyle has a huge impact on the environment and they are reluctant to change. Unfortunately the UK has adopted this kind of lifestyle too. Everyone of us has a responsibility to reduce harmful emissions into the environment in whatever way we can, whether it be by reducing exhaust emissions or cutting back on packaging, every little helps and it's up to the general public to do their bit without relying on weak-willed and unco-operative politicians.
Rob, England

Why not hold the next summit under the ozone hole. Then the world leaders can experience the effects of pollution for themselves.
Paul Smith, UK

I take exception to Chris Down's remarks. While it is true the US accounts for 4 percent of the world's population it also produces a much greater proportion of the world's wealth. Much of that wealth is shared with the rest of the world by providing markets for other countries (notably Europe's) exports, a ready supply of investment capital and technological innovation.
Rob Monaco, USA

It's too easy to blame the politicians and world-leaders... You and I are just as guilty

Svenn Andersen, Denmark
It's too easy to blame the politicians and world-leaders. They are not the only ones responsible for the climate change problem. You and I are just as guilty for not facing the issue as well. In fact every person on this earth is a polluter to a lesser or greater degree. We have to ask ourselves: Do I really need this big car or kitchen machine? Try a greener car, take the bus to work, stop investing in low-quality "buy and waste" electronic products. And then one more thing: Vote for politicians that have vision and creativity to work out a long term strategy to combat climate-change, and the courage to pursue it.
Svenn Andersen, Denmark

It is very, very frightening, I feel that democracy no longer operates

Bernard Little, England
Perhaps the failure of the talks will force everybody to look at the control the multinational corporations have over our lives. Until they can be made accountable to the public I cannot see a way around this. It is very, very frightening, I feel that democracy no longer operates.
Bernard Little, England

I'm not disappointed in the non-outcome of COP6; I expected it to end this way

Vicki Falde, USA
I'm not disappointed in the non-outcome of COP6; I rather expected it to end this way. Also, the Kyoto targets don't scratch the surface of what needs to be done to heal this planet. Plus, that healing wouldn't be very noticeable in our lifetimes, and people are conditioned to immediate gratification. And, of course, things will get worse before they can even start to get better. I'm an American. I suppose I should apologise for that; we are "planet enemy No. 1." But I do want it to be known that not ALL of us are ignorant of what's going on, and do try to lead simpler, greener lives.
Vicki Falde, USA

The failure of the Climate talks is another depressing chapter in mankind's obsession with so-called progress. What's the point of modern-day technological wonders if we can't even accept that the most important priority is the protection of planet earth? Maybe the rich countries can just keep throwing money at the symptoms of global warming but what about the millions of people whose already difficult lives will gradually become impossible. In the long run we'll all be the losers.
martyn herman, UK

It is a disgrace that politicians have failed to hammer out a worthwhile agreement

Ray Brown, UK
It is a disgrace that politicians have failed to hammer out a worthwhile agreement at the World Climate Conference. The peoples of the world must warn their leaders that if they cannot arrange an agreement and make a firm commitment towards it, they will be replaced by others capable of carrying out their wishes.
Ray Brown, UK

We have to accept the fact that the drastic change in the environment is the price we pay for development. There is no point to point finger at a particular country as I feel all countries in the world have contributed to the deteriorating environment. What needs to be done now is that all countries should come together as one to save mother-nature from the devastation brought by its inhabitants.
Steven Mun, Malaysia

So the Kyoto accords were not implemented? Bravo! Maybe during the next few years the real science will be investigated. Then we can finally see reality without the haze of junk science. Points of fact. First this is not the first case of global warming, the last major global warming resulted in the expansion of food stock and expansion of where foods were grown. Second, the last three incidents of global warming actually resulted in few major storms and reduced flooding, not the 'end of the world scenario' being broadcast now. Lastly, the so-called science being touted now can be called into question and reviewed. Many real scientists know that what we are being told is a vast set of lies but because of political pressures are unwilling to step out and tell the truth. Even when they do they are shouted down as "tools of the imperialist industial machine." Face facts what we know, what is proven, and what we are being told is the truth don't mesh.
Canis Scotus Arelous, USA

Despite all the meetings and conferences, the potential scale of the problem has not yet really sunk in with the general public. The political debates are largely irrelevant to the inhabitants of even the so-called developed world. As long as apathy on the ground continues, little will change. For example, an end to the over consumerism that we've all been encouraged to adopt over the decades would be a start. The main issue is the huge imbalance in consumption caused by the rich North. Of course, there must be global consensus, but surely we must get our own house in order before talking big.
Damien Farrell, Ireland

I don't think we should attempt to derail the greatest economic expansion in history just because it might be 6 degrees warmer in the year 2100

David Easley, USA

If the US is to take a 10% reduction in greenhouse gasses it will damage our economy, and what is bad for us will be even worse for you. I don't think we should attempt to derail the greatest economic expansion in history just because it might be 6 degrees warmer in the year 2100. The United States will not stand for a treaty that forces it to make painfull cutbacks while China can keep expanding away. It just will never happen. If the rules of the game are not fair then you can count us out forever.
David Easley, USA

I think the BBC is drunk on your own global warming propaganda! Maybe the people pushing the issue own stock in "wind mill companies" or other companies that will make a lot of money off this issue. By the way, villages in Alaska normally are "lost" or moved because erosion. River banks and sea side cliff erosion has gone on for many millions of years long before "global warming" became the "cause celebre"! And, the erosion will continue as long as there is liquid water on this planet!
Weidner, USA

I think that it is a wonderful thing that the world's countries cannot agree on a socialistic global approach to solving a non-problem. Why do we assume that it is human progress that is creating an ever so slight increase in average earth temperature? Could the sun possibly be a factor, or perhaps the ultimate cause? Why do we have to accept the unsubstantiated claims of a few global activist scientists that humanity must change, based on data and computer models that are significantly deficient when accounting for the complexities of weather. Twenty years ago we were warned of an ice age that may be coming, what happened? Recorded weather data over the past few centuries is grossly inadequate to predict world trends when compared with the vast changes that have occurred to this planet since the dawn of man. Please refocus your energies towards solving true problems, i.e. over-population, hunger, disease, and renwable energy sources.
Kevin J. Lynch, USA

Kevin Lynch is from the USA so he would say there is no problem wouldn't he? Five litre cars for the school run, the right to cheap petrol, whole areas of industrial mess causing 25% of the global carbon dioxide pollution from a big country but with only 4% of the world population. The right to wreck the world while pretending it's not happening must be written into the constitution somewhere. Still, if I don't cut my grass and avoid the winter bonfire no doubt someone will be happy to buy my carbon credits.
Paul Coyle, England

25% of CO2 emissions come from the US, which has approximately 4% of the global population. Now, Kevin Lynch, USA, says we should focus on other problems - and I agree. We should focus on the problem of 250 million selfish and self centered people that have no idea of how the whole planet fits together. How can you somehow justify chucking all sorts of gases into the atmosphere on the vague promise that the harmful results haven't been proven yet?
Chris Down, UK

It is really hard to remember when world leaders gathered together in one place and decided unanimously to solve any problem shared by all.

It is really hard to remember when world leaders gathered together in one place and decided unanimously to solve any problem shared by all

H Mivehchi, Iran
It appears that the problem of global warming requires political actions and it is not therefore, going to be solved by the concerted action of all the countries, but each individual country should look into the matter single-handedly and try to find its solution from its own perspective and standpoint. Although it is not possible to take any important step to handle the problem without the co-operation of other nations, it does at least help the issue to be kept alive. The solution lies in to what extent each country feels committed to take the issue seriously, and elect political figures who are ready to take the matter beyond its frontiers and see the world climate as its own property.
H Mivehchi, Iran

This was inevitable, really. Until we know the outcome of the US election we won't know which direction US environmental and foreign policy will take. Without the consent of the US any agreement would not be worth the paper it was written on.
Rod Maxwell, Scotland

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25 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Climate talks end in failure
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