Friday, April 03, 2009

The summit, a day later. And the fly in the ointment.

Friday morning devoted to C-Span, and it runs on into the afternoon. Recapping the summit in London and all the subsequent talk. Barack Obama was the star as I tuned in to the indispensable source of information. Unfiltered. Unspun. There he was talking to young people in Strasbourg, France, a townhall in a sports arena that looked like the one where I saw him speak in Broward County a half-year ago, except so many in the crowd were brilliantly dressed – there in France. Makes me want to run out and buy something black. If I had any money.

Anyway, the president represented us as well as can be and, without having taken a note, I say I’m sure he inspired thousands of young Europeans (there where France and Germany come together over a dish of pork chops and sauerkraut) to admire the United States and want to endorse its wise leadership.

Then the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, was on the C-Span screen declaiming his version of a summit that can be seen as doing all that’s possible at this juncture to pull us through our economic meltdown. And now the British PM, Gordon Brown, is out with the same message to a vast hall full of reporters in London, and here comes Germany’s Angela Merkel. Thank you, C-Span!

My personal aside: 20-30 years ago I was one of the reporters in those halls in Jerusalem, London, Tokyo, Munich, Brussels -- and don’t forget Reykjavik, where Reagan and Gorbachev came within an eyelash of resolving the nuclear arms race. The adrenalin that flows in these venues is not to be underestimated. If I get together with fellow veterans of Reykjavik, inevitably, we’ll recall how the hair rose on the backs of our necks as we heard Secretary of State George Schultz chronologize the leaders’ talks that came to the brink of success in eliminating the superpowers’ nuclear arms – and then stepped back into more modestly goaled terrain. Hair on necks returned to normal stance, but sweat on brow took time to cool.

Now it’s piquant that the Reykjavik of my 1986 memory is the first country to go bankrupt. (Pardon me for conflating Reykjavik with Iceland; the capital has over half of Iceland’s population of about 320,000.) So I must ask whether the reporters who did the G20 summit will go home and find the meltdown continuing unabated, the way the nuclear arms situation continues today? Or will they have a happier outcome than those of us who saw the Reykjavik Summit as an opening to much more progress than has occurred?

Well, excuse me for pouring cold water on the parade. Where will our U.S. situation fall apart? In Congress, of course. Here’s some evidence, from the indispensable blog (testimonial from Tom Friedman) Climate Progress.

And this post from Climate Progress names all the Senate Democrats who are piling on to the conservative line on the environment.

The problem that we – meaning human beings living on Earth – have with the conservatives is that they’re against the strategies needed to keep living on Earth. As Climate Progress says:

If you want to tackle global warming, if you want to avert the unimaginable misery of 5.5° to 7°C warming and 850 ppm for the next 100 billion people who walk the planet this millennium, you have only three strategies:

  1. Put a serious price on carbon
  2. Spend a gazillion dollars on clean technology development and deployment
  3. Mandate the use of efficient, cleaner technology.

[And yes, for 450 ppm or lower, you need all three.]

The question is, how can you get a global climate treaty through the Senate with the requirement of 67 votes? Not possible. Prospects are gloomy. And progress on climate/environment issues is urgently required. To save the planet and turn the economy onto a sustainable path.


Luis C. Isaza E said...

Larry.....I am impressed. (No disrespect intended). But, what are we doing in the DEC about winning the battle against the Republicans to take the seats that defiantly won Mario, Lincoln and Ileana? Isn't the responsibility of the party to lead in the effort to win elections? Obama did not need Florida to win, but he should us what is necessary to win elections. You are articulate, write well, have experience........what are we doing to support the President?

Nice to hear some comments.......

Larry Thorson said...

There's a lot going on to support the president. I suggest joining one of the Democratic clubs in Miami-Dade County and/or getting active in MoveOn, which is working up grass-roots drives to back the president's budget, health care program and the environmental changes needed to keep the planet healthy. It's what I do when not blogging.