Opinion: Katrina Holds Familiar Lessons

Posted on Thursday, September 08 at 08:36 by jensonj
All that was popular at the beginning of the 1990s when the world's nations met in Rio de Janeiro and agreed on a global environment policy. The euphoria was heady given that it came about so soon after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Many things , if not all, seemed possible -- even a solution to climate problems. Dashed hopes But much has happened since. The New Economy collapsed, the horrific vision of international terrorism took shape, the economies of leading industrial nations lurched from crisis to crisis and the preservation of the environment slipped from world attention. The US, which initially helped shape the new global environment policy, shrank back from once concrete steps had to be taken. The talks on the Kyoto Protocol which began on a hopeful note proved to be laborious and tough. The results are pitiful when compared to the demands. The treaty, which was sealed in February 2005, allows worldwide emission levels to stagnate, at the very best. Talk of reducing them has all but evaporated and the US is simply not playing along any more. The Americans love their gas-guzzling pickup trucks and their gigantic refrigerators. The average US citizen consumes twice the amount of energy than the average European, who in turn consumes much more than an African. Soon, the upcoming Asian countries of India and China will ensure that energy consumption will rise drastically. There's no doubt that the outlook for the world climate looks gloomy. No alternative to global climate protection Still, there's no alternative to an international effort for climate policy -- the greenhouse effect is hardly restrained by boundaries. The rich western nations must develop and promote technologies in their own countries that could help stop global warming worldwide. The industrial nations must develop instruments -- emissions trading is one of them -- with which they can put a lid on their emissions and then reduce them. In other words, politicians, in particular US President Bush, must realize that climate experts and scientists aren't some kind of doomsday prophets. Their warnings must finally be taken seriously. Environment and climate protection is a question of existence, not one of luxury. It's not a matter that politicians only address during good times -- when the economy is humming along -- as is often the case in Germany If this realization doesn't set in soon, then we're going to have to get used to damages in the billions caused by storms, floods, heat and famine -- damages that at some point we won't be able to pay for. Author Jens Thurau (sp) http://www.dw-world.de Deutsche Welle

Note: http://www.dw-world.de

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