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Climate change rally cry: Less profit for companies – and no meat for you

By | December 6th, 2010

A Dec. 1 climate change rally on the west steps of Colorado’s state Capitol, billed by its organizers as a call for U.S. leadership in ongoing climate change talks, included many local groups:

“1Sky, Colorado Interfaith Power and Light, Colorado PIRG, Earth Guardians, Eco-Justice Ministries, Greenpeace, Grow Local Colorado, Protect Our Winters, and Transition Denver will rally at the Capital steps calling on the Obama Administration to show leadership at the International Climate Talks in Cancun this December and keep commitments made at last year’s talks to reduce carbon pollution at home and help fund developing countries efforts to mitigate and prepare for climate impacts.”

The rally and candlelight march was meant to sent a message to the Obama Administration and timed to coincide with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Cancun, Mexico. It included this impassioned plea from a local eco-justice faith leader:

“Ocean acidification is already hurting fisheries, and for a company like Starkist, they can afford a little less profit. When temperatures go up and crops decrease, agribusinesses in the U.S. can afford a little less profit, but subsistence farmers and subsistence fishermen cannot afford a little less profit…

“…As individuals, and as a country we need to step up to curbing our own appetites for carbon-based energy; also for meat. As the developed countries, the United States, Japan, and Europe, we have already had our piece of the pie. Developing countries like China and India want to make sure they get their piece of the pie, and the undeveloped countries of the world are not even at the table.”

A recent video from the BBC traced the evolution of countries throughout the world from 1810 to present day, documenting the increase in lifespan and income. Some of that’s no doubt attributable substantially to the industrial revolution and the use of “carbon-based energy” decried by the folks at the rally…

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U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who ruffled feathers (the green kind) at the previous U.N. climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009, declared Cancun a continuation of the ineffective inaction that resulted from last year’s conference.

A blog from the U.K. news outlet The Telegraph had this to say about the venue choice by the world’s leading environmentalists:

“The surreal nature of attending a climate change conference on a strip of land that 40 years ago was a mangrove swamp cannot be underestimated. In the 1970s the Mexican Government decided to create a ‘super resort’ with money from the oil industry. They transformed the white beaches and unspoilt rainforests into a series of motorways, concrete monoliths and raked beaches. Add cheap labour and booze and you have a success story. Cancun is now most well known as the destination of choice for American teenagers during Spring Break. It has 27,000 hotel rooms, liquor stores, white beaches and not much else. But it has also destroyed a pristine environment and is pumping out millions of tonnes of carbon and effluent everyday. Mexican environmentalists intend to use the hypocrisy of the situation to highlight some of the problems in their country with regulation of pollution and destruction of the remaining rainforests.”

Not exactly a pristine natural environment (perhaps ANWR is too cold this time of year). But then again, this really isn’t about climate change. Maybe it really is about “the piece of the pie” that the climate change activist alluded to in her speech. From Inhofe’s Environment and Public Works committee press blog…

If you’ve ever wondered why the international community convenes climate meetings in far-flung locales (Cancun, or perhaps Bali), then look no further than Otto Edenhofer, a German economist and an official with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Such grand confabs are not, as one would suppose, about climate change, its causes, or actions to avert and adapt to it.

In fact, as Edenhofer sees it, such things are irrelevant, as the climate conference is “not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.” Indeed.

What does he mean? In an interview with German media outlet Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Edenhofer said that developed countries, i.e. the United States, have “expropriated the atmosphere of the world community.” “But one must say clearly,” he asserted, “that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” In other words, as one debunked economist might have put it, the expropriators should be expropriated.

If that doesn’t put it bluntly enough, Edenhofer goes on to say: “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.”

But those efforts aren’t going so well – in Cancun and elsewhere, as U.S. support for anthropogenic global warming decreases – despite the prayers offered to Mayan goddesses – or invoked at last Wednesday’s climate change vigil.

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