By Matthew Rothschild on November 24, 2012

As another international conference on climate change is about to get under way in Qatar on Monday, two recent reports issue dire warnings about where we are -- and where we are likely to be.

First, the World Bank came out with "Turn Down the Heat."

It notes that we are plausibly on the path to a 4 degrees Celsius increase in the world's temperatures this century, which would lead to "unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on ecosystems."

Industrial nations are not doing nearly enough to address this crisis. "The sum total of current policies -- in place and pledged -- will very likely lead to warming far in excess" of the required limits, the report says.

It also notes the double injustice that lies at the center of the global warming crisis: Industrialized nations are the ones most responsible for creating the crisis, but "the distribution of impacts is likely to be inherently unequal and tilted against many of the world's poorest regions."

It adds: "The projected increase in intensity of extreme events in the future would likely have adverse implications for efforts to reduce poverty, particularly in developing countries."

On the heels of this report comes another from the U.N. Environment Program, "The Emissions Gap Report, 2012."

The gap is the distance between what countries have pledged to do about global warming and what is necessary to keep the planet from heating up more than 2 degrees Celsius. This gap has grown, in part, "because of higher than expected economic growth" after the Great Recession. And it will continue to be a severe problem even if the commitments that countries have already made are "fully implemented."

The UN report notes that "there is basically one year less to achieve" the necessary reductions in emissions, so "steeper and more costly actions will be required."

The problem is, the United States is not in any way prepared to take those actions, as Barack Obama himself noted in his press conference after being reelected.

"There's no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices, and you know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we're going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don't think anybody's going to go for that. I won't go for that," he said. "If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that's something that the American people would support."

This selfish "growth is paramount" philosophy is what spurred on the climate crisis, and adherence to it will only impede the resolution of that crisis.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Congress's Shameful Support for Israeli Bombing."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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