This week 20 people were arrested for climbing to the roof of the Parliament building in Ottawa to bring attention to global warming. The incident was to coincide with the launch of the world wide enviornment conference in Copenhagen. Protestors had to be physically removed from the House of Commons when they decided to shout down governmental proceedings to protest failure to pass enviornmental legislation before the conference. Greenpeace who was behind the latest stunt has declared it a success because everyone is talking about it and the environment.
A handful of people protesting a cause doesn't warrant much attention. The extremism of these last two stunts may get more attention but it does not help the cause. People are more drawn to the lack of respect for the democratic process (and in this case safety concerns) than the message of the protest. The conference in Coppenhagen is huge. If anything the Greenpeace protest was a distraction from the already heavy media coverage of the event. To try to claim that a few people hanging from a roof accomplished anything is giving them way to much credit. They would have accomplished more by being delegates at the conference.
The enviornmental movement is showing their frustration in as they try to avert what they believe to be a worldwide catastrophe. The truth is that while people care about the enviornment it does not necissarily take priority over other important issues. The fact that the best Green Party candidate could only muster 3% of the votes in the most recent round of by elections shows where Canadians priorities are.
The problem with any world wide agreement is that it puts more emphasis on social and political issues rather than the environment. The Canadian tar sands are being singled out as the most dangerous contributer to global warming. On a per capita basis that may or may not be true but in the big picture shutting them down completely would have a negligible effect on the enviornment. On the flip side countries like China and India who are major contributers due to population size are not seen as major threats to the environment.
Most of the negotiations revolves around the issues of have and have nots. Should level of wealth determine how environmentally responsible a country must be? Another report came out today that the cheapest way to reduce global warming is birth control. Obviously the target would be 3rd world countries with high birth rates. Using current environmental logic it should be the have countries that reduce their populations. This would necessitate immigration from 3rd world countries to sustain current economies and stop poverty around the world. Of course this is a nonsensicle stretch of logic (for now).
The bottom line is the world needs to find affordable alternatives to fossil fuels and other enviornmental issues. In the mean time efforts to reduce the amount of energy consumed and waste generated. Major social-economic policy is designed for just that and will do very little to help the environment (unless the goal is to complete economic collapse).