Global Warming and G8 – Real or Not?
June 12, 2007
The G8 meeting is over after three days of intense exchanges sometimes lasting several hours per day. Leaders arrived, gathering for mandatory photo ops. Putin did the charm thing, a remarkable feat. Merkel vigorously looked for some – any – item to agree on. She pronounced the meeting a step forward towards making far reaching decisions. The rest of the gang barely stayed awake. Everyone was relieved Chirac is finally gone while allegedly Sarkozy had a drop too much to drink now and then. Flustered by farewell praise, Blair choked and stammered a bit.
Bush’s tummy suffered from evil European cooking and apparently from meeting Nicolas Sarkozy (drunk or not). Even so, Bush strongly and resolutely agreed only to not agree with any agreement containing any form of specificity such as numbers, dates or $ signs. Leaders agreed, announced strong and resolute agreements to agree at a later date. Mission accomplished, everyone left.
Success World Leader Style
Leaders claimed things were “encouraging, promising, getting critical directions in place, realizing breakthroughs, considering serious matters, sending important signals, providing opportunity to prepare, putting processes in motion, identifying meaningful possibilities, promising long-term cooperation, directing possible flows” and so on and on.
Nowhere to be found is a single commitment, actual plan or mandatory actions. No treatises were signed. No bindings, incentives or accountability measures saw the light of day. Not a single concrete action was initiated or agreed on.
Bush’s standard recipe of doing nothing on anything and everything apparently now is a global policy. Perhaps it always was that way. Talk the talk, strut the strut, sneer a lot. Then execute the opposite of any public promise. Claim progress is made by going backwards. Aim for the Dark Ages. Make evidence fit the bill. Ignore reality. You’re either with me against me. I’m the Decider and Commander. You are not.
On the third day, 18,000 German police dismantled the 2.5 meter high barbed wire fence raised around the entire town. This mini Berlin Wall protected the 8 (eight) leaders debating bliss, democratic progress, on whom to aim nuclear missiles and the dinner menu. Demonstrators had no access to the summit or dinner menus and returned to their day jobs. They as well claimed progress towards agreements on objectives to be established at a future date.
Bush to Fight the War on Global Warming
Dubya pretty much gained approval on his newly found religion on Global Warming. It has a simple, resolute message – “let’s ‘talk’ and meet again when I leave office – meanwhile let me handle the delays.” He thereby claimed the position of Master of Global Delay. Grateful leaders concurred, realizing they had the best man for this very important position. The dramatic announcement declared G8 leaders agreed to reach an agreement at an unspecified future date.
China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil – present one day only – were invited to contribute as much to Global Warming emission control as the industrial nations and to give up a few hundred billion $ of Carbon Credit money. Surprisingly, the five suddenly undeveloped countries turned down this generous idea.
China and India now have more years to build a few thousand more cheap coal based power plants based on the dirtiest technology available. Indonesia, Brazil and Malaysia can slash and burn the rest of their rain forests. Mexico City will keep burying its smog victims. Buy a Greenland time share or enjoy spring break at the Alaskan beaches. Enjoy the splendid new Prudhoe Bay Disneyland.
The circular Global Warming blame game continued – Canada blames the US, the US blames China, China blames India and India completes the circle by blaming everyone except India. Progress etc., etc. was happily announced by leaders exhausted by the three hour “working” lunch.
Everyone to Fight the African War on AIDS
African leaders and Bono – not present – scoffed at the rhetoric of saving their Continent from AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and McDonalds. Apparently the G8 goal of doubling aid to Africa will be achieved by cutting such aid in half if history is to guide us. Major bankers strongly endorsed this sound strategy.
G8 also stated a goal of eliminating African debt. Perhaps that will be financed by doubling African dept. Major bankers strongly endorsed this sound strategy. Africans called the summit a farce which somehow explains why Chancellor Merkel was obliged to apologize to Bono for not getting back to him in a timely manner.
President Sarkozy announced a Darfur conference aimed at resolving the stalled efforts of getting peace keeping forces and aid into the area. G8 leaders hailed the idea and strongly supported the notion of France and African leaders take on this delicate task. “Exactly what those guys should do” was the consensus, allowing attention to concentrate on other worthy causes. Sudan, however, was not pleased and turned down the idea.
The Economies in Great Shape
The good news is that the World Economy is in glorious shape which is probably why AIDS aid is cut in half. Global imbalances are showing some signs of stabilization more recently. That explains why things are going so well in Darfur.
The IMF chief warned of complacency, merger mania, the unfair Chinese and their murderous exchange rate, and everything that can’t be sustained long term. Of course, he did not have the environment in mind but rather the wealthy few. If we are all vigilant, things will be OK. It was deemed necessary to further identify and target specific areas for concrete actions, No doubt the identification of such actions would require additional areas to be identified for further concrete actions. Major bankers strongly endorsed this sound strategy.
Putin and Bush to Hold Intimate Discussions
Iraq, Iran, Korea politely weren’t really on the agenda. Surges were not mentioned. Issues of war crimes were way off the agenda. Secret prisons were unmentioned. No one was tortured. The feared return to the Cold War due to Bush’s brilliant policy towards Russia and Putin’s equally masterful attitude towards the West was temporarily shelved. Bush called Putin Vladimir (“I call him Vladimir, you know”) and invited the poor soul to Kennebunkport where George H. and Vladimir can swap stories on the good old times in CIA and KGB. Children need not attend.
Now Russia would like to host Bush’s missiles allegedly to be pointed at Iran, not Russia. Putin prefers having them in Azerbaijan rather than in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bush, flustered, found the idea interesting while everyone else laughed their heads off. Generals immediately objected, concerned about not being able to aim the damn missiles at anyone they damn well please.
Bush in the Democratic Stronghold of Albania
Bush went on to visit the last earthly place still supporting him – Albania, long the most Communist of all Communist states. The size of Maryland and largely Muslim, it was or is a center of terrorism, directly involving bin Laden together with the CIA. Chetnya, Taliban and Iran apparently use the facilities as well. Allegedly converted to democracy, it is now With Us, Not against Us.
Engaged in the tourism, pyramid scheme and rioting businesses, Albania now Fight Terrorism to Bush’s delight. The Albanian Prime Minister commissioned a commemorate stamp with Bush’s face on it. Bush reciprocated by repeating an old promise of membership in NATO. Crowds cheered. As far as is known, Bush left with his face still in place but without his watch (furiously denied by the US Embassy to Albania, fearing a Grave International Episode). Someone check eBay.
Back to Business
But G8 and Albania isn’t today’s subject. It is actually hard to imagine why G8 should be the subject of anything at all since it appears to have no real subject of its own.
Instead I’ll like to update a little story I ran about four months ago which did and still does have a real subject. The original post was just another little story about the not earth shattering effects of Global Warming. That is, not earth shattering to those not affected but very real to those who gather on a lonely Bolivian mountain top or in the valleys below. The top is called Chacaltaya after its once mighty glacier. The glacier happens to host Bolivia’s one and only ski resort. I never thought I’d ever have an update on the story but I was wrong. Here is the original story:
Is Global Warming Real? The Mountain Top Chorale
Scientists say equatorial Bolivia’s proud skiing tradition could be extinguished when Chacaltaya’s ski run disappears forever over a few years. Glaciers are receding rapidly throughout the Andes, but Chacaltaya’s melting has been especially quick. More than 80 percent of the glacier has been lost in 20 years.
Bolivia’s die-hard skiers still boast about Chacaltaya, asking where else one can ski above the clouds at a dizzying 17,388 feet with a view of Lake Titicaca on the horizon. Where else, they ask, would the après-ski tradition include coca tea and soup made from the grain of the quinoa plant? Their pride in the ski resort here, the only one in Bolivia and the highest in the World, soon gives way to a grim acceptance that the glacier that once surrounded the lodge with copious amounts of snow and ice is melting fast.
Chacaltaya never had the glamor of a Vail, Kitzbühel or Zermatt. Founded in the late 1930s by a dreamer named Raúl Posnansky Lipmann, it can be reached only by a dirt road winding through the chaotic markets of El Alto, a sprawling city of slums above La Paz, and with terrifying switchbacks lacking guardrails. The lift, which stopped working some time ago, was powered by an old automobile engine which hauled skiers upwards at speeds exceeding any reasonable limits. Now, a few skiers trek 30 minutes to the only remaining ski slope to get a few runs in before Chacaltaya surrenders its claim to being the world’s highest ski area.
“This is a tragedy I can hardly bear to witness,” said Franz Gutiérrez, 65, who has been a member of the Bolivian Andean Club and Chacaltaya since he was a teenager. “There’s no place I’d rather be,” Mr. Martínez, 22, said, squinting as the sun beat down on the lonely slope. “At least Chacaltaya is ours.” Chacaltaya will be theirs forever but not as the world’s highest ski resort. That honor will be lost to Himalayan upstarts.
This story circulated with little fanfare in February of 2007. Next is a June 2007 update which takes somewhat broader approach with a surprising twist as well.
Chacaltaya – the Next Installment
Global warming will melt most Andean glaciers over the next few years. Bolivia’s Hydraulic and Hydrology Institute said the vast Chacaltaya glacier
is particularity melting fast. The glacier, at the Argentina-Chile border, snakes through Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador providing thousands of communities
with their only source of water and power. No viable alternatives exist.
Half of Bolivia’s glaciers (80,000 hectares, or 20,000 acres) disappeared over the past 50 years. Chacaltaya is now only 3 metres thick on average, down from 15 metres in 1998. Glaciologist Edson Ramirez says it will disappear this year or next. “This is a process that unfortunately is now irreversible,” he says. About 80 percent of the Andean glaciers are similar in size to Chacaltaya. Experts agree all Andean glaciers are doomed.
Over 2 million people in the La Paz region depend on the thawing cycles of Chacaltaya and neighboring glaciers for drinking water, farming and power generation. At least 35 percent of the area’s drinking water comes from melting glaciers, and about 40 percent of the electricity,” said Oscar Paz, the head of the Bolivian Climate Change Panel, a government task force. Paz said rich countries should create a global fund to compensate poor nations for the effects of global warming. “We’re the victims of climate change,” Paz said.
Daniel Cuencas, a father of four, walks several blocks every day to fetch water from a stream and is well aware of what will happen when the glaciers disappear. “This right here is ice melt. That is where the drinking water comes from, from the mountains. So we know that there isn’t going to be enough water,” he said, fetching water with a rusty tin can from the stream.
In a curious new development, Bolivian President Morales arranged a soccer (football) game at Chacaltaya – 5,270 meters or 17,300 feet up in near stratosphere. Morales scored four goals in the 30-minute game played before reporters, scientists and a few dazzled tourists on a small gravel field. Morales and his team of presidential staffers and retired Bolivian soccer greats defeated a squad of university students 10-3, in a match halted occasionally when a ball kicked out of bounds would roll down the steep mountainside.
Football is close to a life and death issue in Bolivia as in most Latin American countries. The problem is that even without Chacaltaya, Bolivia and neighbors are in the middle of the high altitude Andes. The international football organization FIFA recently declared that international football games cannot be played at a higher altitude than 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) to protect the health of lowland players.
Such a limit rules out international games in La Paz (3,600 meters up) and at least four other Bolivian stadiums. The same fate awaits the capitals and cities of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Mexico. Understandably all high altitude inhabitants are rather upset about the matter. Denver, incidentally is safe at a mere 5,280 feet. Lowland Brazilian club Flamengo announced that the decision was “a victory for mankind”.
It is unlikely, though, that international football games at Chacaltaya will save its day. At more than twice the limit as it stands, football games will likely be rare in spite of Mr. Morales point:
- “Here we play in ‘altura,’ and we play with much ‘altura,'” he said, using a Spanish word that can mean “altitude” or “dignity.” “Those who fear ‘altura’ have no ‘altura.’
This might tell you something about Chacaltaya and why this obscure place actually is important to all of us. It is not just an issue of a handful of skiers, melting glaciers, the supply of drinking water and power to a few million people. It is a matter of dignity and pride. Our dignity and our pride are at risk. Not to mention our health
Is Global Warming real? To some it certainly is very real. Not in 5, 10 or 20 years and perhaps, maybe or possibly – it’s real right now. Probably no more than a few dozen people are impacted by the demise of Chacaltaya as a ski resort and you are likely not one of them. But rest assured something similar may happen to you much sooner than you think. Millions of Bolivians are finding out right now.
Thank you, Karl