Saturday, December 19, 2009

Obama Praises Copenhagen Agreement

A simple statement follows President Obama's appearance at the U.N. Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Already termed a "flop" and "failure" by many, the simple fact that 193 nations came together to address an issue (anthropogenic climate change) that, at least until the recent U.S. Administration change, had been largely regarded as "open to scientific debate", is remarkable.

Anyone who expected universal agreements and binding treaties from this single conference fails to understand the scope of the problem. This is just a first note in a long and difficult process.

But Bolivia's Evo Morales, who must be credited for illuminating the plight of indigenous peoples, rightly expressed moral indignation, labeling U.S. behavior "criminal", when Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. "pledge to contribute" to a $100 Billion international fund over the next decade to help developing nations cope with climate change. This, while we are devoting several trillions of dollars to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Related to this, a story on NPR yesterday spoke of the logistic nightmare of supporting the 30,000-troop build-up in Afghanistan. Much of the supplies will travel thousands of miles overland, by train and by truck, from the Baltic Sea to our troops in Afghanistan. Another report places the cost of delivering one gallon of gas to Helmand Province in Afghanistan at $400! Our tactical foreign policy decisions simply exacerbate the very problem we claim to be addressing.

Clearly, we still have a long way to go in realigning our priorities.

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