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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.
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.
Change the ideas in our heads may help. And we all share any blame.
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.
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.
There are just too many of us living on this planet. Can half of you please get off at the next stop?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Les Bruce, Scotland
Will historians look back at 'Global Warming' and reflect upon it as being nothing but a lot of hot air?
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
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.
Where do we go after the world's leaders cannot agree on how to protect the planet?
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.
Why not hold the next summit under the ozone hole. Then the world leaders can experience the effects of pollution for themselves.
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.
Svenn Andersen, Denmark
Bernard Little, England
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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?
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
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.
25 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Climate talks end in failure
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