[Vision2020] Copenhagen: Climate Conference's Well Deserved Host

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Fri Dec 11 04:24:35 PST 2009

I like your column on Copenhagen, with its optimism regarding positive
economic outcomes from environmentally friendly lifestyles and business, but
disagree that the dangers of global warming are "slow and subtle."  The
changes to the planet from climate change are now rapid and profound.

Arctic cultures whose way of life is very dependent on the natural
environment are now experiencing sudden and disturbing impacts, given the
Arctic's pace of climate change is faster than many other areas of the
planet (polar amplification).

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a Nobel nominee who might have won the Nobel Prize
instead of Al Gore, has campaigned for the rights of Arctic peoples as their
way of life is threatened by climate change.  I sometimes wish she had been
the Nobel Prize winner, not Gore.  She quotes a source describing the
impacts of climate change as "immediate and devastating."  The
industrialized world's refusal to aggressively address climate change by
dramatically lowering greenhouse gas emissions can be viewed as a human
rights abuse.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier testifies about global warming to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights in 2007:

I may not reply to Paul Rumelhart's recent post on climate science, as you
appear to think I will.  Well documented and critical scientific responses
to many of his claims regarding problems in climate science on anthropogenic
warming have already been addressed repeatedly on Vision2020.

As University of Idaho climate scientist Von Walden, Ph.D. Geophysics,
phrased it, “Things are changing very quickly in the Arctic right now,”
Walden said.  “There’s really no debate that we’re perturbing our atmosphere
and global
warming is beginning to occur.”

Another climate scientist manipulating, hiding or overlooking data, and
silencing skeptics ("There's really no debate..."), or a credible scientific
statement based on well established extensively peer reviewed science?

Von Walden quote above from Spokesman Review article Sept. 29, 2009, Von
Walden's U of I faculty info below:


Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

On 12/10/09, nickgier at roadrunner.com <nickgier at roadrunner.com> wrote:
> Greetings Visionaries:
> This is my radio commentary/column for this week.  You can read the full
> version with pictures (including Copenhagen bike traffic lights) at
> www.home.roadrunner.com/~nickgier/DKClimate.htm
> Next week's topic is "The Myth of the Copenhagen Conspiracy."  In the
> meantime I will read Paul's post and eagerly await Ted's response.
> Just got back from visiting my daughter in Edmonton, where they experienced
> the warmest November on record.
> Nick Gier
> When I arrived in Copenhagen as a Rotary Foundation Fellow in 1966, one of
> the first things that I did, after drinking a few bottles of world famous
> beer, was to buy a bicycle.  During my Rotary year there, I rode all over
> Copenhagen and its immediate environs.
> Long before introducing the first and longest pedestrian shopping street in
> 1962, Copenhagen had built an extensive system of bike lanes, complete with
> their own miniature traffic lights.  For home-to-work commutes, 38 percent
> of 2 million Copenhageners take their bikes, while only 11 percent of
> Americans do.
> Only the people of Holland bike more than the Danes.  Daily they rack up
> 1.5 miles per citizen, while each Dane cycles 1 mile per day.  In contrast
> each American bikes an average 315 feet per day.
> Northern Europeans did not always bike this much, because they too
> developed a love affair with the automobile. When oil embargo hit in 1973,
> their governments, much more so than the U.S., committed themselves to an
> intensive campaign to make their countries both energy independent and
> energy efficient.
> In Denmark years of government subsidies to wind farmers have now expired
> and the result is that wind provides 20 percent of Denmark’s energy needs.
> Denmark also helps other countries to become greener by producing and
> exporting one third of the world's wind turbines.
> My main obligation as a Rotary Fellow was to give speeches (the first one
> in English and next 21 in Danish) on international understanding, and I
> traveled to clubs all over the country by train.
> During my 1978-79 sabbatical to Denmark, the government committed itself to
> an ambitious program to phase out diesel-electric locomotives and electrify
> the main lines of its national rail network.  The result has been the saving
> of hundreds of millions of liters of diesel fuel.
> Denmark is on track meet its Kyoto treaty obligations by reducing CO2
> emissions 21 percent by 2012.  At the Copenhagen conference Denmark will,
> along with other European Union members, promise to cut CO2 emission another
> 20 percent by 2020. Obama’s promise of 17 percent by the same date is based
> on 2005 figures, and this means only a 3-4 percent cut over the 1990 levels
> the Europeans are using.
> Denmark is the most energy efficient country in the European Union at 8
> percent "energy intensity," defined as the ratio of energy production to
> real GDP.  U.S. energy intensity stands at 15 percent, primarily because
> each American burns an average of 429 gallons of gas and diesel each year
> while each European uses only 76 gallons.
> Denmark was able to become the King of Greens while at the same time
> growing its economy by 78 percent over 30 years without increasing
> appreciably its energy consumption. Even under center-right governments
> Denmark has maintained high tax rates to make the necessary infrastructure
> investments.  The government has alternated between budget surpluses and
> very low budget deficits.
> Year after year Denmark has been ranked among the top ten competitive
> economies in the world, and in 2008 the free-market journal The Economist
> rated Denmark as the least corrupt and most business friendly country in the
> world.
> I submit that the Danish example, among many that can be cited from the
> world’s progressive countries, proves that conservatives are simply wrong to
> ague that keeping taxes high and going green means the ruin of a nation’s
> economy.
> It was a tax-cutting, Kyoto-rejecting Bush administration and an
> unregulated financial system that almost destroyed the U.S. economy. Think
> of what a President Gore could have done with revenue lost through tax cuts
> for the rich, building a green economy and rescuing a failed education
> system.
> According to a study done at the University of Massachusetts, "a $150
> billion investment in clean energy could create a net increase of 1.7
> million American jobs and significantly lower the national unemployment
> rate."
> Under both left-wing and right-wing governments (mostly the latter since
> 1985), Denmark has chosen to invest heavily in physical infrastructure and
> human capital, and it now has much to show for its wise decisions. The Danes
> have more than earned the right to host the most important international
> conference of the 21st Century.
> Nuclear annihilation was the greatest threat in the late 20th Century, but
> dangers of global warming, while slow and subtle, may lead to the end of the
> conditions that made human civilization possible on our planet.
> Nick Gier taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years.
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