The EU has proposed that industrialized countries slash emissions 25-40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 as part of a global climate pact. The U.S., which is one of the world's top polluters, has repeatedly rejected mandatory national reduction targets of the kind agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.
Harlan Watson, the head of the U.S. delegation in Bangkok, said such hard targets failed to take into account the potential economic impact.
''If you push the globe into recession, it certainly isn't going to help the developing world either,'' Watson told The Associated Press. ''Exports go down, and many of the developing countries of course are heavily dependent on exports. So there's a lot of issues which need to be fleshed out ... so people understand the real world.''
The US could certainly reduce its greenhouse gases by that amount. But it might take the dismantling of the entire economy to do so. That's no solution.
What makes this conference seem as useless as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is more evidence that we may be entering a period of global cooling rather than global warming. If the slow start of upcoming Sunspot Cycle 24 is any indication, we may be entering a prolonged period of lower solar activity, which in turn will cause a cooling of Earth's climate. Assuming the It's-All-The-Fault-Of-The-Evil-Humans branch of the global warming faithful are partially correct in that our activities have increased greenhouse gases to the point where they have some effect on the climate, then we may not want to take any actions that will prevent the effects of those gases. They may actually help moderate the cooling period and prevent major climate shifts to much colder weather. Much colder temperatures would have a far more devastating effect on climate patterns than a warming trend. Too many people ignore the positive effects of the Medieval and Roman Warm Periods, when global temperatures were about 1.5ºC warmer than they are today. Somehow people have gotten it into their heads that the temperatures and weather patterns their grandparents and great-grandparents experienced were 'normal'.
I'll let you in on a little secret: They weren't. 'Normal' is relative. What is normal to you and me might be considered above or below normal by someone who lived 250 or 1000 years ago. How do we quantify normal? I certainly have no idea.