Climate Change Realism And Hope -
A Path To Success At Copenhagen

By Bill Henderson

09 November, 2009


Copenhagen is looking increasingly like failure to agree upon a world saving but presently impossible global plan for action on climate change. After getting your agreement on why Copenhagen is a crucial last chance and who or what is to blame for impending failure, I'll show you a possible path to global awakening just in time for the final meeting in December.

All informed on climate change now know the humanity threatening runaway and cumulative dangers and the urgency after decades of procrastination. Hansen et al. on the melting Arctic and getting back under 350 ppm in time; Schellnhuber et al on a global carbon budget for GHG emissions with a millennia of cumulative consequences.

But pressing political agendas in a time of economic dislocation, uncertainty and even impending collapse don't allow politicians to be effective leaders at this crucial time. Practically the US (as leading economic and political power and as major historic and per-capita GHG polluter) must be a leader in formulating and implementing a global treaty for action, but Obama has his hands full and the deniers have used their wealth and power position to confuse the American public, obstruct legislation, and maintain the legacy industry status quo.

America can't and won't lead and there is also an unresolvable conflict between developed countries who have greatly benefited from their use of fossil fuels and developing countries who wish to follow the same industrializing path and who will be the major GHG polluters in the future - unresolvable within the present foolish political agendas brought to the tables leading to Copenhagen by those who should know the tipping point dangers but still must be team players in political games back home on which their own narrow personal agendas depend.

But what's new - take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Sutton and Spratt were right on the money when in CLIMATE CODE RED they warned about the emergency nature of the climate change danger and the futility of trying to mitigate climate change (locally in Australia or globally in regard to the real deal that is a urgent necessity at Copenhagen) within continuing political and economic business as usual.

A year and a half later those not in denial recognize that the science tells us that action is needed right now but still we cannot get out of business as usual in order to escape going over those tipping points to runaway warming.

So why are you still reading?

I think there is still a path to a real deal at Copenhagen, to getting out of political and economic BAU so that leadership and action - systemic change to reduce emissions urgently by the 80% by 2020 (ballpark to get back under 350 fast) - becomes possible.

Working backwards what is needed is some action that fries the deniers and legacy lobbyists in the US and empowers Obama to be the promising change agent he has to be. There is no time for or Pollyanna hope for incremental change to so empower Obama. What is needed is a global awakening to the real climate change dangers so that present political agendas fall away, are superceded, are collapsed quickly, freeing up a capacity for systemic change and a new path to some possibility of a human future.

Somewhere, in some jurisdiction, a leader will take bold action commensurate with the real climate change danger that will awaken and profoundly educate the world. As an example, as a best opportunity that by chance could be won in my home province of British Columbia, Canada, my Premier Campbell could send a shot heard round the world if he cancelled the 2010 Winter Olympics to be held next February in BC. Such an act could signally clearly that climate change is so serious that we have to change.

This 2-5 billion dollar (depending on your accounting but still a relatively small number), month-long winter Olympic party is a relatively easy sacrifice but it would catalyze a tectonic shift in attitude to climate change globally.

The Olympics is also a prime example of luxuries we can no longer afford if we recognize how our actions today threaten humanity in the future. If we need Draconian emission reduction immediately then elites flying from all over the globe to party at Whistler is callous, totally uncaring behaviour sending all the wrong signals about how we should be living at this crucial time.

The Olympics is big news worldwide. It gets attention. The Olympics is also a good microcosm of the real problems we have to solve if we are going to begin mitigation of a scale necessary to get back under 350 in time:

> the 2010 Olympics is a multi-billion dollar project - like most major business ventures - already a decade in planning and now almost built;

> all the big brands are contracted and there are contracted tie -ins from virtually every major global entity;

> the Olympics are already a key date on millions of people's schedules globally including the masses expecting to watch on TV;

> and the BC economy, presently spiraling down, expects a significant boost next year from Olympic related spending.

In short, cancelling the Olympics is impossible. And so is closing the tarsands; or embarking upon a schedule to quickly phase out coal burning (without effective CSS), beginning in the US and China; or rationing carbon with effective carbon budgets in the developed world; and every other wedge needed to get back under 350 fast.

Force Premier Campbell (who does know the climate change danger) to do the impossible - cancel the Olympics and free up systemic change needed in this emergency. Should be relatively easy to do as a last chance campaign if activists globally came on board and focused attention.

Give the Olympics back to the athletes; tell the corporations BAU is over, change is going to happen. Tell everybody to stay home and watch a much scaled down Olympics on TV. Awaken the world to the undeniable realty of climate change as an emergency and the scale of change that is necessary.

Awaken everybody to the need for and possibility of systemic change unencumbered by the laminate of investment and contractable obligations which presently keeps us in a straightjacket - Freidman's golden straightjacket - incapable of making the systemic changes necessary not only to get back on the right side of 350 but to head off ecosystem and economic collapse predicted from continuing cancerous growth on a finite planet.

Cancelling the Olympics would send this message and fry the deniers and empower Obama and those in his administration who do understand the danger. In fact, almost every global leader must have the climate change science information and understanding now - they won't stay paralyzed zombies IF such a path to real change became possible.

Ignore the deniers and the delayers, the incrementalists in denial too - if you agree on the danger and the need for a real deal at Copenhagen then focus in upon your local legislator or opinion shaper who has shown a deeper understanding of the climate change danger and message that the time for action is now, the CLIMATE CODE RED insight, and that we must catalyze in some way this global awakening.

I've written up the case for cancelling the 2010 Olympics - the difficulties and the full promise - in a series of net op-eds that you can easily google. If you agree that climate change is an immediate, humanity threatening emergency and that a real deal for global action has to be agreed to at Copenhagen, take the Church of Business blinders off and consider this heretical path to awakening, carbon addict awakening.

And if you don't see merit in the golden opportunity of cancelling this Winter Olympics, then what action will produce this global wake up call? What possible action in Melbourne or Argentina, Hong Kong, Santa Fe, London, Mombai or Finland, etc.?


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