5 November 2019   Leave a comment

11,000 scientists representing 153 countries issued a statement expressing deep concern over the process of climate change. The statement was issued in the science journal Bioscience on the same day that US President Trump announced the US intention to leave the Paris Climate Agreement. It reads in part:

“Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament (figure 1). The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected (figure 2, IPCC 2018). It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity (IPCC 2019). Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine, and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic “hothouse Earth,” well beyond the control of humans (Steffen et al. 2018). These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.”

The statement notes that the political will do address climate change does not exist in many governments, and that the crisis is already upon us and will only get worse. Naomi Oreskes and Nicholas Stern wrote an op-ed for The New York Times which assesses the economic impacts of a warmer planet. They conclude that the economic costs have been seriously underestimated:

“The urgency and potential irreversibility of climate effects mean we cannot wait for the results of research to deepen our understanding and reduce the uncertainty about these risks. This is particularly so because the study suggests that if we are missing something in our assessments, it is likely something that makes the problem worse.”

We shall see if this manifesto changes the political dynamic of the discussion about climate change. Unfortunately, most evidence suggests that nothing will change.

Iran has announced that it will take a fourth step away from the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly referred to as the Iranian nuclear deal. It was an agreement forged between Iran and the US, France, Great Britain, Russia, China, and Germany signed in 2015 which limited Iranian nuclear activities in return for the end of economic sanctions designed to punish Iran for its nuclear program. President Trump violated the Agreement in 2017 by unilaterally ending US participation in the Agreement despite clear evidence that all the other signatories had honored their commitments. Al Jazeera provides a good background to the significance of the Iranian moves since the US departure.

The Iranian news agency, MEHR, indicated that this move gives Iran the ability to enrich Uranium to a much higher level of purity in a much faster time. If true, Iran is now very close to having the capability to build a nuclear bomb, even though it still insists that that is not its current objective. Virtually all countries expressed dismay at the Iranian decision, but unless the world is willing to lift more sanctions, Iran will probably continue to use the nuclear program as a lever to force economic relief. President Trump now must face an Iran which is significantly closer to building a nuclear bomb than it was when Mr. Trump took office. One must count the US policy toward Iran as a profound failure.

Kavita Khory is one of the world’s pre-eminent analysts of South Asian security matters. One of her most recent lectures was at the Springfield, MA World Affairs Council. It was comprehensive and sophisticated, covering a variety of security matters. An extraordinary lecture. The video of her talk is below.

Posted November 5, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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