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06. June 2008

A Climate of Change

A commentary by Edit Schlaffer

Climate change poses the greatest challenge of the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, greenhouse gasses, the hole in the ozone layer and the Arctic’s melting glaciers are still observed as if from a science fiction plot. The question is, how long will this continue?

Having just returned from China, one of the strongest impressions of the journey was the blanket of smog that shrouds Shanghai. The pollution hinders not only the view of the city, but also one’s ability to breath.
Environmental ministers and secretaries of the G8 nations are now actively trying to implement a new global warming pact. This pact calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 50% by the middle of the millennium. No wonder that this deal was agreed upon, given that the negotiators are hardly expected to live to live until this date or witness the incalculable damage the world will suffer if the destruction is not stopped. While the ‘saviors’ of our planet debate on the time intervals that should be incorporated into the protocol, the clock keeps ticking. It could soon be too late for the adoption of these crucial measures.

According to the UN, climate change is still stoppable. But doubts have emerged since the latest G8 proceedings in Japan. The European Union supports the existing UN strategy that aims, by 2020, to cut emissions by 40%. The United States rejects the plan altogether, while those in Japan believe that the date for this intermediate target is premature. Meanwhile, Nobel laureate Wangari Matthai is rising up against deforestation in Africa. Prosecution and imprisonment could not dissuade her from championing democracy, and her husband abandoned her and their three children because of her stubbornness. But we need many more wise and obstinate Wantari Matthais.

This commentary was published in the Austrian Newspaper "Die Furche" on May 29th 2008


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