4 December 2018   Leave a comment

The UN is holding its annual climate conference, COP24, in Katowice, Poland.  The environmental situation today is beyond serious.  Mihai Andrei describes it in this way: “Recent studies have shown that 20 of the past 22 years have been the warmest in recorded history, and climate change action needs to be increased fivefold if we want to have a chance to avoid catastrophic warming, which would cause permanent and irremediable damage to both human and natural environments.”  The naturalist, Sir David Attenborough addressed the conference and in his speech he said: ““Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”  The difficulties facing the UN Conference are huge, and the feeling is one of dark realism, as the US, Brazil, and Australia are all backing off from their previous commitments to the Paris Accords.   Stephen Walt argues that climate change itself will lead to the end of American hegemony in world politics.

 

The protests in France, named after the yellow vests all drivers in France are required to carry, represent the general feeling of distrust that many ordinary citizens throughout the world feel toward traditional patterns of governance.  Lauren Collins, writing in the New Yorker, describes the movement in these terms:

“Like Macron’s own party, which he founded only months before running for President, the gilets jaunes confound traditional political divisions and have appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Its adherents are old and young, male and female (even if women were conspicuously underrepresented among the rampaging crowds in Paris), apolitical and activist, nonviolent and nihilistic.”

The movement draws its power from the same feelings that propelled the right parties in Hungary and Poland, the anti-European sentiment in Brexit, and the populist parties like the Five Star Movement in Italy.  But the catalyst was the increase in fuel taxes which shows the difficulty in trying to take steps to reduce carbon emissions.

 

We also need to keep an eye on Iran.  The Iranian President threatened today to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s petroleum exports flow, if the US blocks its oil exports.   The US has sent its aircraft carrier, the USS John C. Stennis and its affiliated carrier group to the Persian Gulf–the first time the US has had an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf since last March.  At this time, it seems unlikely that any actions will be taken by either side, but both sides are preparing for any contingency.

 

Posted December 4, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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