This week we laughed as a broadcaster castigated a foreign guest for his government's repressive actions against protestors; yet across the country Occupy encampments were being shut down, often violently.
What hypocrites the U.S. has become: we pontificate on global platforms and put the boot in at home. The United States has lost the moral courage to be a global leader, today we're all hype and no substance.
Last weekend in Oslo, three women were honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for work they actually did, unlike Barack Obama who did nothing for his award and has done nothing since. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman of Liberia, a place many of us came from as slaves, were honored "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
And peace-building work, the Nobel peace prize committee has already made clear in their award to the late Wangari Maathai, includes environmental activism. In recent weeks, as we erected a tent on the lawns of the Environmental Protection Agency as part of our Wednesday, an Occupy EPA action to pressure that agency to live up to the "protection" part of its mandate, I thought of the global climate change conference in Durban, South Africa that took place from November 28 to December 9.
There has been no cause to celebrate after the climate change conference. The 53-nation African Group summed it up when they declared that they were "deeply concerned that the inadequate mitigation pledges, notably by developed countries under the Cancun outcomes, risk an increase in global average temperature of greater than 2 degreesC and possibly as much as 5 degreesC. Such temperature increases will have catastrophic impacts worldwide. "The mitigation pledges by developed countries amount to less than the voluntary mitigation pledges by developing countries."
The world's top three carbon emitters are China, India and the United States and as part of Obama's ongoing betrayal of campaign promises, he recently struck down new measures that would have seen the U.S. partially reform.
The Africa Group -- nearly all of which have laws to enforce unleaded gas in vehicles, we don't - want developed countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40 percent by 2017 and by at least 95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
Instead, the World Meteorological Organization this year reported that greenhouse gas concentrations have reached record levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that hot days have become hotter and occur more often and that, if emissions are not dealt with now, the frequency of hot days will increase by a factor of ten.
In Iowa, farmers are seeing longer growing seasons. China's Heilongjiang Province, which used to have essentially no rice production, now accounts for 15 percent of China's rice production.
But that is not good news and I'll tell you why. There's been a one degree Celsius rise over the past 100 years. But the forecast is for a two degree Celsius increase by 2050. Gerald Nelson, a senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, says, "The corn plant, for example, can do OK as long as the temperature is in the range of 30 to 31 degrees Celsius. But as the temperature increases to above 30 or 31 to 32 or 33, recent research has shown substantial drop-off in yields.
"For insects, as the temperatures rise then they reproduce more rapidly. So, instead of having three cycles of a pest per season you might end up with four or five. And that means more damage to the plants as they grow." Regions may lose killing frosts, which help limit insect populations. And weeds are thriving in the richer carbon dioxide environment.
None of the news is good.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change foresees temperatures rising as much as 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, swelling the seas with melted glacial water and disrupting climates. Releasing millions of tons of sulfur dioxide in the upper atmosphere would mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption, lowering global temperature by about 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which can last for a year or two when it occurs naturally.
And so we hope that the Occupy EPA demonstrations each Wednesday at noon continue to grow to not only pressurize government to put the "protection" back in the EPA, but also to back off from harming whistleblowers -- Penn State, Syracuse and elsewhere have shown why we need them.
We hope Obama does not get the eyes of the world focused on the Occupy movement at Freedom Plaza in D.C., also getting evicted. They are having such a positive effect in D.C.. This is from their latest newsletter: "On Black Friday we traveled to a local mall to remind [shoppers] that holidays are really about family, friends and community.
"We continued to pressure the Congress for its lousy economic policies, protesting at both the Senate and House when the "super-committee" failed. This builds on our efforts to put forward real solutions to the economic crisis the country faces with The 99%'s Deficit Proposal: How to create jobs, reduce the wealth divide and control spending. ..