By Phil Brown
Earlier this year, the global levels of CO2 rose to 400 ppm.
While the number is somewhat arbitrary, the milestone is a sobering reminder of the irreversible effects of human activity on the environment. Dr. Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, told The Guardian that “reaching 400ppm doesn’t mean much in itself, but the steady increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases should serve as a stark reminder of the task facing politicians as they sit down in Paris later this year.”
That time has come, as representatives from nations around the world gather in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 21 or CMP 11, since Nov. 30 until this Friday, Dec. 11. The representatives are seeking the elusive legally bind-ing and universally accepted treaty that would present a decisive step forward for the world’s fight against climate change.
The Paris talks come in the wake of revelations that the United States government had spied on delegates from other nations at Copenhagen in 2009, COP 15, in order to gain a political advantage in the negotiations.
Copenhagen ended in disappointment, only leaving behind vague political statements and non-binding resolutions. With the memory of Copenhagen political tampering fresh in our minds, it’s more important than ever that not only the delegates stay above en-tangling politics, but on the domestic side, we citizens keep climate change from being unnecessarily political and partisan.
As a nation, we need to move past the climate change “debate” and treat it like every other global problem. No truly big problem is ever going to be comfortable, and we can’t let ourselves bicker to stay complacent.
We should expect our leadership to stop using climate change as a political ping-pong ball, and we should expect the same thing from each other. It will be hard to move past the partisan roles the politicians have told us to take for decades. But it’s necessary if we want to move forward as a nation.
This applies to both “sides”. There’s as little room for complacent superiority as there is for stubborn resistance. We need to become the kind of society where both Democrats and Republicans of the future look back on the state of today and wonder why we bickered about something as important as climate change. A Democrat should be puzzled as to why his uncle used the world-changing effects of climate change as a political token to feel superior over his classmates.
A Republican should be lost in confusion over the former behavior of his mother-in-law, who turned climate change into a bone of contention between herself and her neighbors.
Politicians gain power through the people. We need to create an environment where a politician who runs on climate change as a political issue can’t be elected. To do so, we need to look at our own interactions, and make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that we aren’t mixing political rhetoric in with the science of climate change.