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Now, about my disappearing ecosystem...


Good news, everyone! The Paris Climate Summit actually managed Saturday to reach an agreement to limit and reduce greenhouse gases, with almost every nation on the planet agreeing to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that threaten to make the world unlivable. Now all the signatories have to do is actually follow through on making the changes they've committed to, every one of them. You might not want to buy any land in Florida just yet, maybe.

Despite the enormous big large hugeness of the task, it's at least a near-universally accepted agreement, an achievement that no previous climate summit had managed. The UN has been trying since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro back in 1992, which was long enough ago to have been the topic of a Violent Femmes song, if that helps give you perspective.

[contextly_sidebar id="0Juq9RyZ8uyGrspRoJL3N9c9s5bs1PET"]The New York Times outlines the biggest challenges, such as India's attempt to improve living standards for 1.25 billion people without turning into a coal-choked hellhole like China. India and other developing nations will need assistance to provide clean energy, and the agreement calls on rich countries to help, seeing as how they have a real interest in helping development while keeping the planet habitable (American conservatives notwithstanding). As for China, it may actually be ahead of its previous commitments:

China, meanwhile, is investing so heavily in clean energy that some observers think its carbon emissions might have hit a peak — a milestone that China had promised to reach only by 2030.

Its top climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, said Saturday that “China will actively implement its nationally determined contributions so as to reach a peak as soon as possible,” but privately its officials have expressed pride that it no longer has the coal-stained reputation it had at the Copenhagen climate talks of 2009.

The agreement calls for carbon emissions to eventually be reduced to zero by "the second half of this century," no matter how many copies of the cap-and-trade bill Sen. Joe Manchin shoots. Marcelo Mena Carrasco, a Chilean negotiator, put it succinctly: the Paris Agreement could mean "the beginning of the end of the fossil-fuel era." We'll miss our gas-guzzling 1973 Chevy, but with a little bit of tinkering, we bet it could run on hydrogen. Shut up with your power-to-weight ratios, we like dreaming.

One element that's missing from the agreement is any kind of enforcement mechanism, which, funny thing, has a lot to do with U.S. Republican opposition, which would have doomed the agreement had it been formulated as a new treaty. Instead, in a bit of legal wizardry, no Congressional ratification will be needed, since

the Paris Agreement will not be considered as its own treaty under American law but rather as an extension of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the Senate ratified in 1992.

Yeah, get ready for more complaints about Barack Obama the tyrant.

So is this sucker really going to save the planet, or at least the species of large-brained hominids who've done the most to fuck it up since the Industrial Revolution? Let's just say it's a start, but it's no Montreal Protocol (the agreement that stopped the destruction of the ozone layer). The first round of reductions won't solve the problem all at once:

By May, the United Nations climate staff will update its estimate for the combined impact of the national pledges ... Estimates of the first round of pledges suggested that, if carried out, they would still result in a rise of 2.7 to 3.5 degrees Celsius (4.9 to 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels -- far above the newly adopted goal of just 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The agreement calls for national plans to be revised every five years, with the goal of ratcheting up the reductions in emissions each time. As properties in coastal cities become impossible to insure, we imagine that process might eventually get taken seriously.

Still, not everyone's on board with the celebrations over the Paris Agreement. On Fox News Sunday, complete waste of perfectly good biomass Karl Rove scoffed that the Paris Agreement was pointless because its goals address the future. As everyone knows, our children and grandchildren should have to deal with that, not us. Since the accord calls for the world's net carbon emissions to reach zero sometime between 2050 and 2080, we may as well just forget it, Rove said:

We’ll all be dead and very few of the people sitting in Paris will be alive at that point, I suspect, when we get to 2080. The United States has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. It has done so, not because some international treaty, we have put the focus on energy efficiency, we’re a market economy, we’re a wealthy country that can afford to do this. And we have done it.

What we are now saying to emerging economies, "Keep your people poor, keep them in poverty because you cannot use cheap fuels, namely natural gas, coal and other fossil fuels to power your economy." And it’s ridiculous.

Yes, that's Karl Rove pretending to worry about economic injustice, which ought to be enough to set off your bullshit detectors. Also, screw your kids and grandbabies. The little bastards expect to inherit a habitable planet from us? Pretty damned selfish of them, don't you think? Still, Rove makes a compelling case: why do anything about global warming? If we play our cards right, Jesus will come back and end history before anyone has to park their F-350 for the last time.

[NYT / RawStory / NYT again]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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