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Too late to halt climate change?

November 16th, 2009
04:17 PM ET

U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders from the rest of the world's top economic powers acknowledged Sunday that there is no hope of a major breakthrough over climate change by the end of the year.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/16/art.climate.gi.jpg caption="Are world leaders taking climate change seriously?"]

This bleak acknowledgment followed comments from Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen at the APEC summit in Singapore that next month's conference in Copenhagen is no longer likely to yield a major accord to battle global warming.

Kumi Naidoo, the new International Executive Director of Greenpeace, told CNN that climate talks have so far been strangled by "short-term expediency, election cycles and national parochialism."

He said politicians need to realize that this is not a business negotiation because “nature does not negotiate.”

He added: “From Florida to Bangladesh one in 10 people live within a meter of sea level. The ice-caps are melting and it seems inevitable that all of those people will have to defend or abandon their homes this century.”

Read Naidoo's column for CNN

According to Mike Froman, White House deputy national security adviser, President Obama made a surprise appearance at a breakfast devoted to climate change at the APEC summit and told other leaders it's important for at least some progress to be made next month.

But Naidoo insists we need a deal now before it really is too late.

Do you have any confidence that the world’s leaders are united in their desire to secure meaningful agreements on climate change?

Post your comments below and we’ll include the best ones in tonight’s show.

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Filed under:  General
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Scott L

    As are World continues to have problems with pollution an the issues that it creates. The Governments lose focus and find every reason to avoid the World Pollution Situation. With major concerns in deforestation of the World's tropical forests and the continued heavy pollution of all major rivers through out the World, politician's continue to use anything too distract from what is destroying the planet. Save the Planet not the Politician.

    November 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  2. Marcie Mayer Maroulis

    Obviously, the world's leaders have not yet grasped the fact that we are already very late if we hope to turn back the damage we have done to planet Earth since the Industrial revolution.
    I believe Obama and some European leaders are aware of the urgency but have failed to launch a comprehensive Global initiative that would make it economically viable for all nations to become responsible.
    At the end of the day it will fall in the hands of the people to demand their governments get a move on saving the planet.
    Marcie in Greece

    November 16, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  3. Dr. Richard Womack

    Certainly in the Pacific we had better assume the worst. A high island like Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia could absorb the population of some it's atolls but like so many island countries...better start looking for land-NOW!

    November 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  4. Harry

    if we would switch even 50% only of the funds we waste on military equipments, that bleak situation would be changed instantly : period.

    November 16, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Reply

    I truely hope everyone can put aside there greed and work as one to stop this terrible distruction of our planet. For decades we have been told of the problem we are creating with our planet. Looks like everyone concerned ( politicians) turn there heads when it comes to saving our planet. They need to stop thinking short term and focus on the long tern effects.

    November 16, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  6. Terry in Concord

    I have no confidence at all. Sadly, the United States, by its behavior in the last decade, has set despicable precedents for the rest of the world to follow. With no responsible past record to refer to, you are living in fantasyland if you think we can now "lead" the world in securing any meaningful agreements on climate change. Why should China or India limit their economic growth and prosperity NOW to help save a climate that the current industrialized nations helped to destroy? Give me a break. I would like to be optimistic, but this will require Herculean efforts on everyone's part. I'm convinced there are many who think we should just live with the consequences of climate change and just live it up. After all, we're so smart, we can just adapt and make money at the same time.

    November 16, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  7. Boris Sawyer

    As the history of humankind shows, measures will be taken when they are required. Measures can not be expected in the situation of a lack of knowledge, uncertainty, speculation and fear.

    November 16, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  8. Shane

    It's remarkable that the Earth is dying; but money and politics are more important than stopping this global suicide brought to us by destructive industries. Further manufacture of devices that burn fossil fuels should be outlawed, no matter whose bank accounts suffer for it. Businesses, jobs, plans, the world economy — none of that will matter if life becomes unsustainable on this planet.

    November 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  9. Victor S

    Facts show that global warming is a myth and that over the last 10 years we've had a global cooling thus changing the global warming theme to "climate changes". Facts show that catastrophes like hurricanes and such aren't increasing at all. Numbers show that CO2 is not a climate change factor AND especially NOT in the numbers we're talking about. Numbers show that ICE is increasing in the Artic from a low point in 2007 back to average and that Polar Bears are many more than 50 years ago. FACTS show NO PROOF of man related climate change or anything resembling that and yet here we are discussing if we're too late!?!?!? Too late for what? You can't predict the weather for next week (accurately) and somehow you can predict it for the next 10, 20, 100 years? The only thing we can GRASP is what we KNOW, what we've measured and the DATA we have and THAT, well, that simply annihilates that so-called "global warming/climate change" thing.

    November 16, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  10. Steve Lewins

    If something goes drastically wrong, drastic measures have to be taken to reverse or neutralise it. Hundreds of commercial airliners are criss-crossing the earth 24/7. Each one of these 'wonders' belches Tonnes of filth into the atmosphere with each flight. Car pollution output is a drop in the ocean compared to airplanes. Can people live without 'casual' commercial flight? Yes, of course they can, it's just more fun to fly. The money spent by airlines could easily be channelled into more high-speed bullet-trains such as we already have, and technology is capable of developing new ocean liners which would be affordable and frequent. Business people do not need to fly around the world for meetings; the Internet already gives us video and audio hookups for these things, which can also be developed. Of course that would take some of the fun out of flying everywhere on expense accounts. "Summits" which cost millions of dollars to stage, waste everybody's time and produce no decision other than when the next summit will be. Abolishing commercial airline travel would be looked at as "going backwards" and "too drastic" or impossible, as such an idea would be nipped in the bud by people with a vested interest in them, by telling the public how inconvenienced they would be – and no one wants to be inconvenienced. Hi-speed sailing had reached it's epitome when steam ships suddenly became a reality. America's canal system was becoming more highly developed and efficient when railways took over. Just because something is replaced by a new developement, doesn't make the idea obsolete. Commercial airtravel is obsolete in an environmentally minded world but alternatives will not be initiated by governments. Maybe if Donald Trump and Richard Branson got together on this, something really exciting could bring us into a "Brave New World"!!

    November 16, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  11. Keith

    Calm down, everyone. Listen to yourselves. "...the earth is dying"...."despicable precedents"...."assume the worst"..."bleak situation".....The world is NOT ending, at least not soon, and not from Global Warming. If you would like to relax about the present and not feel guilty about it, go visit http://www.junkscience.com and read some well-reasoned skeptical posts about how Global Warming is an overblown issue.

    Please everyone, you are really getting yourselves bent around the axle for a very small problem that is probably just natural climate cycles.

    November 16, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  12. Ken

    The ecosphere is much too important to let politicians manage it. We have to stop depending on our politicians for leadership and action. This has led us down the wrong path for too long. Whether we like it or not, we must now all become better citizens and do it ourselves.

    November 16, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Reply
  13. Jay Dykstra

    It is way too late. We are dealing with symptoms of the underlying problem, & not the problem!
    It is like treating the fever of a cancer patient, & ignoring the cancer!
    If we cut greenhouse gases by 50% in 30 years,. The best we can hope for is same amount of globel warming that we have now because the population will double.

    November 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  14. Keith, La Rioja, Spain

    We are not in time to avoid natural disasters; with luck we may be in time to avoid catastrophes. However I feel that not much will be done until we get to cataclysms.
    Hundreds of millions affected and dying and forced to move, due to short-sightedness and selfishness as well as nit-picking by our politicians around the world.
    And all those science-fiction plans for geo-engineering will come to nothing: cutting off measles pimples does not cure the measles.
    Selling industrial CO2 to maintain forests in Amazonia – so stupidly called "offsetting", – will get us nowhere.
    Millions of hectares for producing biofuels will only make things worse.
    Meanwhile, the climate refugee situation in Kenya (and elsewhere) is becoming hopeless: Has Mr. President Obama thought of that?
    Copenhagen is a challenge: but it seems that politicians worldwide are willing to side step it.
    Come on, President Obama: I am expecting great things from you.

    November 16, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  15. Allan

    Too many people, politicians included, fail to realize that a big part of the problem is over population. There are simply too many people for this planet to support. The Earth's population doubled in just 40 years and all those people are burning fuel to cook food or to power transportation. Less people equals less polution. Unfortunately all our world governments look at population growth as the way to grow the economy.

    November 16, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  16. Dan

    Global warming is the worst piece of "science" since the world began.The rise and fall of the earths temperature is entirably explaneable by natural cycles. If global warming is such a serious world problem why are 100% of the activists ignoring the NUMBER ONE reason for it? Population. There are too many people using the earths resources. I can't take any of this seriously untill we address the real problem.

    November 16, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  17. anton in RSA

    glad i can be able to attempt to try and comment herein again

    the G8/20 leaders just do not have instant solutions right now!
    if we r referering to global pollution clean-ups.

    these poor guys are loosing sleep, BIG TIME to attempt to get any significant controbution made towards the eminent pending global catastrophy/pollution messup.

    If it is something that I deem not logical, i care not spending one iota of energy upon it, but it's this important to global energy conservation and advansing to clearer exhaust gass emmissions, i refues to comprehend there will not be someone intellegent enough, a visitor to this site, in all fair comment, that will not take the time to visit-www.combustionplus.com

    green energy greetings.


    anton human

    November 16, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  18. Ithinkdoyou

    "Too late to halt climate change"

    As far as I know planetary heating and cooling is directly related to the radiation of the sun. I do not think we can alter the radiation of the sun.

    Also, temperature levels and CO2 levels during the time of the dinosaurs and during the early middle ages were much higher than at present day. But please continue with your "we are changing the climate" propaganda, it is highly entertaining.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  19. Dan

    People often fail to realize that it is not the Earth that we are destroying in the long run. The planet as recovered from far worse natural climatic disasters in the past. What we are destroying is our capacity to survive off the planets resources. Earth will continue to survive an thrive for billions of more years but we wont.

    November 16, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Reply
  20. Alastair

    Perhaps global leaders are waiting to see what is really happening. There is a lot of emotional comments made about "projected"climate change and sea level rise but not all the data supports these projections. Sea level is rising about 2mm +/- 1mm per year at the moment? recently?, how old is the latest data?. This seems to be a slight increase from the 1.5mm quoted last century.
    Recent data shows a slight cooling? of the earth. A slight recovery in Arctic sea ice coverage in the last couple of years but this is insufficient to establish a trend.With many poorly understood cycles appearing in climate records I doubt the reliability of many of these predictions/projections . With the earth appearing to have been verry warm in the 1930's then cooler about 1970 it makes a big difference when you start a record to establish a trend.
    The further back you go in time the more doubt about global coverage and accuracy of data

    November 16, 2009 at 11:00 pm | Reply
  21. Diana Wilko

    In ongoing discussions about climate change and pollution contributing to the destruction of the planet we live on, it seems that the underlying, overriding problem is rarely mentioned: overpopulation. Is it even debatable that there are far too many human beings in this world? We tear down the forests to make room for our crops and cows, we take up so much space that we push other species to extinction, we fill the land with our garbage, we pollute the air and water with our fumes and effluent...our sheer numbers are choking the life out of this magnificent orb we live on. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are urgent of course, but for the long term survival of our world we need to not only stop multiplying but to reduce our numbers.

    November 16, 2009 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  22. John

    Is it any wonder the world leaders are having trouble getting anything done when so many people still refuse to either accept it is happening, or that mankind has anything to do with it?

    November 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  23. Gerald Griffith

    What needs to be understood in the context of global weather change is that it takes about 30 years to decide if the weather is in fact really changing.

    Normal weather can change this much without a systemic change.

    A second and perhaps more pertinent fact is that all of the governments on the Earth working together with the same goal may not be able to have any effect on global weather

    Humanity is really very small compared to Nature.


    November 16, 2009 at 11:30 pm | Reply
  24. Reality Check

    "It's a matter of Survival " is a Book that I bough back in 1990 , Written by one of Canada's most distinguished Biologists , David Suzuki . Back then He wrote of the Dire consequences of what Governments were doing , and what they should do , to save this Planet , Earth .
    I have printed , and stapled into this book , every meaningful and factual article from the Internet , whether it be of the U.N. or World Leaders Conferences , and articles atating the Scientist's discoveries of evidence of Global warming and Climate Change . My Copy of this Book is now bursting at the seams .
    If I am a Miner , then this is My Canary in the Cage ... that I may know when it is , too late . The Canary is not Well .
    Don't rely on the Elected World Leaders , do your own research and know the truth .... and demand that they take action NOW .

    November 17, 2009 at 1:06 am | Reply
  25. david brown

    this warming cannot be explained by natural cycles. the earth is not cooling. short term weather patterns hve nothing to do with climate . c02 absorbs heat that is a fact. without the greenhouse gasses absorbing the suns heat the earth would not sustain life.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:06 am | Reply
  26. Dennis L Bailey, MD

    Everything that we do in this world has a consequence,either good or bad. If we don't take care of our environment, we shall sooner or later pay the penalty for our negligence.THE SOONER we learn that lesson. the BETER.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  27. ProTrekker

    Man made global warming is a political invention, not based on facts at all. The Mann hockey stick has been debunked with a vengeance. You people need to read proper scientific articles and follow scientific debates http://www.climateaudit.org. A question: Why are not contemporary proxydata being used? All proxydata stop at 1980, why is that? Surely it must be of interest to compare computermodels to current data?

    November 19, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  28. beracuda

    Is it too late?
    Is it later than we think, or the "Better late than never" rule applies?

    Either/or, the world is awakening.
    Think only couple of years ago just how millions fewer people all over the world were talking "Climate Change".

    The pressure is on and it should not ease up one bit.
    Greetings from socio-economically cum environmentally troubled Greece.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  29. Morte Canard

    I can't keep from giggling to myself. All the global warming alarmists crying that we are all going to die, and then a few days later it is revealed by the hacked computer system and exposed e-mail correspondence between the global warming activist scientists that they are faking it.
    Like Victor S. said, there is no proof of man made global warming. Facts show that CO2 doesn't cause global warming. Historically, CO2 levels have always risen *after* a warming period. Since we recently (geologically speaking) emerged from an ice age in 1850 + or – a year or two, of course the planet should be warming up. What would you expect? So, the planet has been warming due to natural causes, and voila! A rise in CO2 follows. The alarmists have the cause and effect problem upside down. But just for fun, let's pretend that CO2 does cause warming:
    A mere 1% of our atmosphere is made up of green house gases. Of that 1%, 97% is water vapor, over which humans have essentially no control. The rest is methane, chlorofluorocarbons and CO2. Making a long story short, CO2 comprises .03% of our atmosphere. Not three percent…not three-tenths of one percent…but three one-hundredths of one percent.
    Most CO2 is naturally occurring, with only 14% of it coming from burning fossil fuels. Take 14% of the .03% and you discover that man-made CO2 adds up to .004% (four one-thousandths of one percent) of our entire atmosphere. As a comparison, .004% of the average 20,000 gallon home swimming pool would be 12 ounces. The same amount of fluid in a soda can. Even if Man could totally eliminate that .004%, it would not make a difference in our climate.
    As the late Billy Mays would say, “But wait! There’s more!” The Cap and Trade tax scheme claims that it will reduce Man’s CO2 emissions by whopping 1% a year. Remember, we are responsible for that tiny .004% of CO2 in the air, and to reduce that by 1% would be a reduction of .00004% a year. That would about one ounce of water in the swimming pool analogy mentioned above.
    Even if CO2 really did cause warming, reducing the percentage of it in our atmosphere by .00004% would do nothing to change it.

    November 23, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  30. James Thomas

    it is very evident that climate change is already taking effect in this decade:..

    August 12, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  31. TV Series Forum ·

    the climate change that we experience these days are caused by too much air pollutants "

    November 8, 2010 at 9:31 am | Reply

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