Bush Climate Negotiator Fails To ‘Understand The Real World’

At the week-long Bangkok international climate negotiations that have just concluded, chief U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson told the Associated Press:

If you push the globe into recession, it certainly isn’t going to help the developing world. 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.

It is, of course, the Bush administration that does not understand the real world.

REAL WORLD: The Planet Is In Crisis Today

Every day, every week, the local, regional and global impacts of climate change that are already here are reported by officials and scientists.

— “Spain’s northeast Catalonia region will need to import water by ship and train from May to ensure domestic supplies” because “rainfall in all but one of Catalonia’s 15 river basins was below emergency levels for the year so far.”

— “Canada’s massive Mackenzie Delta is feeling the impact of climate change faster than expected and could foretell of problems elsewhere in the Arctic.” The researchers warn that “greater than expected storm surges and coastal flooding should be a concern for companies looking at drilling in the energy-rich Mackenzie Delta and areas of the Beaufort Sea.”

— In India, “the early ripening of the popular ‘Kaafal’ wild fruit in Kumaun division of Uttarakhand is being seen by experts as a fallout of global warming in the Himalayan region. The edible wild fruit has hit the markets this year a month before than the usual time and it is being sold at four times higher than its normal rate.”

REAL WORLD: The United States Is Not Immune

— “From deadly heat waves in the Midwest and Northeast to more intense Gulf Coast hurricanes and Southwest droughts, the effects of climate change will have an unprecedented impact on the health of Americans, a report said Monday.”

— “Utah still remains at the epicenter of global warming in the United States, becoming ever more arid,” warned a NOAA researcher. “It would take 15 years of average runoff conditions” to fill Utah’s Lakes Powell and Mead, but studies of the region suggest that won’t happen.

— Increasing drought means “Canada could one day be forced to allow bulk shipments of water” to the United States. Tony Clarke of the Polaris Institute said that “many U.S. cities could face critical water shortages by 2015 and noted the Southwest was already clearly in trouble.”

REAL WORLD: Developing Countries Want Climate Action

— At the Bali climate negotiations last fall, developing countries shamed the U.S. delegation into accepting a roadmap. “Then South Africa, responding to the US, said developing countries had voluntarily moved to accept new obligations for their national actions on climate change that were ‘measurable, reportable and verifiable,’ a concession that only a year ago, he said, ‘would have been unthinkable.'”

— At the Bangkok negotiations, “We believe that Africa is getting a raw deal in these negotiations once more,” said Grace Akumu, head of the Nairobi-based environmental group Climate Network Africa. “The African continent will suffer the most from the impact of climate change and that’s why we’re getting very worried.”

— Developing countries like the island nation of Tuvalu are already running out of time. “The nature of the U.S.’ commitment … is unclear, and I suspect we’re not going to get a clear signal from the U.S. until after the next election,” said a representative for Tuvalu in Bangkok. “The uncertainty is troubling, particularly for highly vulnerable countries, like small island states.”

REAL WORLD: Just Climate Action is a Pathway Out of Poverty

— Representatives from developing nations and advocates for the disenfranchised in our country “understand the real world” and share a common vision for a climate-positive future built on sustainability, justice, and economic opportunity.

The rest of the world knows this — it is the Bush administration, the polluters, and their conservative allies who are trying to delay and deny the rest of us a positive future.

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