Talking Turkey at COP15

Good news!  The White House announced today that President Obama will attend the COP15 meeting on Wednesday, December 9, on his way to Oslo to accept the Nobel Prize the following day.

Life at the water's edge in Senegal.

In the nick of time, for scientists have recently given policymakers even more incentive to come to Copenhagen prepared to talk turkey (in honor of Thanksgiving in the U.S.).  A group of former IPCC contributors have produced The Copenhagen Diagnosis, whose executive summary sums up in 8 bullet points key changes in  climate change predictions since the Fourth Assessment.   Climate change predictions back in 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was signed, were scary enough.  Now scientists are reporting that reality 12 years later is even worse.  Some findings, as reported in the NYT this week:

1.  Sea level rise of 1.5 inches, and more acidic oceans due to carbon dioxide being absorbed into the water. More acidic water harms coral, oysters, and plankton, and threatens the ocean food chain

2. Temps .4 degrees warmer than preceding 12 years.

3. More severe droughts and wildfires, from Australia and California to the Sahel. The Colorado River reservoirs were almost full in 1999, but by 2007, half the water was gone after the worst multiyear drought in 100 years. In the U.S. West, the average number of acres burned per fire has more than doubled.

An Alham or car rapide, the main form of public transport in Dakar.

4. Trillions of tons of lost ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Greenland’s ice sheets are melting twice as fast now as they were just seven years ago, increasing sea level rise (see #1 above). The average glacier has lost 25 feet of ice since 1997.

5. Loss of species. The polar bear became the first species to be put on the federal threatened species list due to climate change and the American pika isn’t far behind.  Also imperiled are butterflies, frogs, and whole stands of North American pine forests.

”The message on the science is that we know a lot more than we did in 1997 and it’s all negative,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. ”Things are much worse than the models predicted.”

With this sense of urgency in mind, here is Simmering Senegal’s first installment of the WFSD/FMDD declarations, which follow from the preamble translated in this post.

  1. To promote the integration of climate change adaptation into local, national and regional development policies, programs, and strategies, in order to respond comprehensively to the challenges posed by global climate change and to seize opportunities for sustainable development.
  2. To strengthen the capacity of populations and institutions through exchange, and the promotion of positive experiences within partnerships that capitalize on existing expertise and the dissemination of good practices.
  3. To support the Bali road map which envisioned, in post-Kyoto Protocol climate change treaties, the inclusion of mechanisms that take into account the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and more recently still, negotiations that include sustainable forest management (REDD+), in the form of direct financial support for national policies based on a sectoral approach, with the creation of a special interim fund largely financed by developed country contributions.
  4. To increase the number of carbon sinks through a widespread program of reforestation and conservation of forest ecosystems.
  5. To reevaluate strategically African agricultural support before expiration of the Millenium Development Goals, in light of sustainable soil, water resources, and animal resources management, and the promotion of sustainable and ecological agriculture.
  6. To list among adaptation options those actions aimed at reversing tendencies toward hydraulic and terrestrial resource degradation, as well as river and lakeside area degradation.
  7. To call for vigorous support of the fight against coastal erosion in Africa.
  8. To strengthen local, national, and regional capacity to manage ozone-depleting sources and to establish an African observatory to monitor the transboundary migration of hazardous waste.

Stay tuned for the second installment of declarations early next week.

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