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Wednesday
Nov042009

Cows and Copenhagen: A Herd of Confusion Around Climate Change

Politico writes in Climate change on the back burner? that the issue has slipped so far down on the American agenda that at least one key committee chairman has suggested it might have to wait until after the 2010 elections.

A number of factors are conspiring against the Senate version of the bill: a Republican boycott on the Environment and Public Works Committee, a new EPA analysis that could take at least five weeks and wide-ranging disagreements among six competing Senate committee leaders who have jurisdiction.

Al Gore maintains that the US will embrace a globally responsible climate change policy. Left to our governmental leaders, I have serious doubts.

In a weird twist of insights, I believe only large corporations will somehow help deliver a responsible climate change bill. When I don’t know, but I’m betting on Walmart, Nike and Apple taking the stand that we must do something about climate change.

America is in a total quandry about climate change.We may not like big companies, but they have bought into the facts of climate change in a way that locally-elected, no-vision legislators in America have not. Many politicians can’t think beyond their next fast food fix, and we know now that growing numbers of scientists say that fast food bergers causes brain loss in critical thinking capability.

Reality is, we have no agreement on the most effective path to impact global warming and THAT IS A MONUMENTAL PROBLEM for a country lukewarm on global warming in the first place.

The better-organized, articulate and thoughtful Europeans would serve the world well by getting a single speech together and sticking with it. Because any diversion or confusion around the facts gives America grounds to camp out in the Grand Canyon for years on this problem.

I just discovered that we’ve been arguing about the role of meat in our lives far longer than I understood.

“Pythagoras advocating vegetarianism”, Peter Paul Rubens, 1618-20Last week Lord Stern of Brentford, a former chief economist of the World Bank and now I. G. Patel Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, said we must become vegetarians to conquer climate change.

A recent report published by the Worldwatch Institute argues that livestock generate more than half of all global greenhouse-gas emissions – more than the combined impact of industry and energy. (The previously accepted figure was 18 per cent.) Most of the problem is caused by methane-emitting cows.

Rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman writes in the NYTimes The Carnivore’s Dilemma that it’s the mass producer approach to cattle growing that causes the problem. That is, crowding animals together in factory farms, storing their waste in giant lagoons and cutting down forests to grow crops to feed them causes substantial greenhouse gases.

Gourmet burger photo via epicurious.comConverting McDonald’s and Burger King’s to vegetarian fast-food operations may be easier than retooling the global economies. Except that as much as 70 percent of areas newly cleared for agriculture in Mato Grosso State in Brazil is being used to grow soybeans.

Presently, those soybeans feed cattle and create emissions in the process. Won’t we still be cutting down the rainforest and creating the emissions if McDonald’s goes vegetarian?

Lack of a solution strategy is a valid problem with what to do about climate change, especially in the middle of a global recession where we’re all sitting looking at America, wondering what’s next for the conductor currently in charge of a cacophonous symphony trying to organize one tune that plays well around the world.

P.S. we’re rather skip the concert entirely this year, in case the world hasn’t noticed.

America doesn’t have billions of dollars to blow on a global warming analysis “woops”. In case the world hasn’t noticed, we’re in some pretty big strategic, economic, long-term trouble.

BBC News delivers Jeremy Paxman putting Al gore under the microscope on a variety of issues regarding his own relationship with climate change initiatives. 

Challenging Al Gore to become a vegetarian is a trend. That’s a fair game question.

Al Gore on BBC Newsnight with Jeremy PaxmanWe have a new challenge for Al Gore, one more serious. The NYTimes asked yesterday if Gore’s caught in a conflict of interest Gore’s Dual Role: Advocate and Investor. The financial and self-beneficial business entanglements of Al Gore’s stance on climate change suddenly risk diluting his scientific message.  This is not a pretty picture.

Pardon me, but I have a headache, too. As a bottom-line business woman, I am more confused about what to do on climate change than health care. For anyone who wants to do the right thing, how do we determine the maximum climate-saving returns on our behavioral and lifestyle-changing investments?

If giving up meat is a truly effective answer, I’m all for it. I presently go meatless 3-4 days a week. I don’t sense that anyone has a truly holistic vision of how we maximize the benefit of change to protect the environment.

Does anyone really have a clue? Tell me, for heavens sake. Anne

On that subject, I’m reading about  this guy Bill McKibben. Is he any good?

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