Preview of UN Climate Summit in Cancun (part 2)

11/24/10 Kelly Benjamin
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The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference begins next week in Cancun, Mexico. WMNF’s Kelly Benjamin will bring us daily reports from Mexico on the progress towards an agreement at this year's summit. Today, we bring you part 2 of a special report on climate change and what we can expect from the United Nations process.

Last year's highly anticipated UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen resulted in the Copenhagen Accord, an agreement that began a process of creating climate change adaption financial aid to impoverished nations, many whom are already feeling the effects of global climate change.

The agreement was widely criticized for being weak, non-binding, and not setting concrete targets for long term emission-reductions or greater protection for the world's tropical rain forests. One such critic was musician and political activist David Rovics.

"In terms of what happened inside the conference, of course, it was all completely worthless because of US obstructions and other things. I'd say that was the main reason for the collapse of the thing. The world's biggest polluter has no interest in the thing, so what are you supposed to do with that?"

At this year's UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, much of the hope of reaching an agreement to slow global warming rests with something called REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). Don Lehr is a spokesperson for the Eco-Systems Climate Alliance.

"REDD is a mechanism that was created at the conference in Bali in 2007 that will hopefully provide funds to developing countries to not cut down their forests and thereby prevent the emissions, the carbon emissions from cutting down forests and also enhance the sequestration that forests provide for carbon. In other words, forests suck up carbon from the atmosphere but when you burn them down or destroy them they release carbon into the atmosphere."

So, the UN is establishing a fund to pay developing nations not to chop down or burn down their forests. But how is this significant to battling climate change? Again, Don Lehr.

"Well, approximately 15 to 20 percent of total global carbon emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation. That's a huge chunk of the total carbon emissions, globally. And the idea was that if we could find a way to curtail, and eventually even stop this kind of deforestation it would be a relatively quick and easy way to decrease some carbon emissions. It has turned out not to be so quick or so easy. It's a very complicated issue. You know, it seems so simple, you know. Give them money and they won't cut down their trees. But, where does the money go? How does it get down to local communities that live in these forests? How do you prevent it from getting snatched up?"

Outside of hopes for passing a REDD agreement, others involved in the UN negotiating process, such as Thomas Hamlin, the UN's technical adviser on energy and transport, see low carbon transportation initiatives as a fundamental way cities can reduce greenhouse gasses.

"We've seen some very interesting work done in Mexico City, and they're using something called bus rapid transit, they have special lanes for the buses. The reason I mention Mexico is they did quite a good study on the benefits from that system and it's able to move on the order of a million people around each day. The studies were able to show that the health benefits and the local benefits in terms of savings of time, even if you take their time at a dollar an hour. And the savings in gasoline were the largest benefits to the system. So Mexico City is able to move people around efficiently and in a more healthy environment. And it's also saving greenhouse gas emissions."

Here in the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough voters rejected a transportation referendum that would have included bus rapid rapid transit. But some locals like Eric Stewart are doing their part to fight climate change on a grassroots basis.

"Community gardening and climate change. I think that the most connection that there is is you're reducing the demand of habitat destruction. When you buy food in the local market, they're getting it from the local farms. If you can reduce your food mile to local farms or some community garden, you're reducing how far that food has to travel. Most of these community gardens aren't using fertilizers or pesticides so they're reducing the amount of oil that has to go onto the soil. Permaculture is about thinking holistically and thinking about all aspects of just being alive. So thinking about the building you're living in, the land that surrounds your house. Thinking about where you get your water and thinking about your health."

Kelly Benjamin reported for the WMNF Evening News from last year's climate summit in Copenhagen and he received a fellowship from Earth Journalism News to cover this year's conference.

Tune into the WMNF Evening News all next week for Kelly’s daily coverage on the progress being made on addressing climate change at this year's United Nations Climate Change summit in Mexico.

Code Green

WMNF reporting from Copenhagen

Part 1 of this preview of the Cancun summit

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I find it interesting that both the socialist left and the Republican wingnuts are abnormally obsessed with undermining the UN and the US economy.


Maybe someone should explain to you that many on the left feel that the UN Cap and Trade process is a joke and will not do anything to battle climate change. While "republican wingnuts" refuse to believe the science that proves our way of life is changing the planet for the worse. It's become blatanty clear that a global economy based on burning fossil fuels is unsustainable and has to change in order to avert disaster-but there's a lot of denial about this.


I don't know if there's a general denial that we need to change from an oil based energy foundation. I just think that blaming 'capitalism' is a pointless argument. If your goal is to convince the American public that we need urgent work on reducing greenhouse emissions, you need to come up with another "hole in the ozone" argument. That was a winner because people could visualize the problem. Some abstract idea about how we need to blame ourselves for trying to make ends meet isn't going to go very far, and hasn't for the last 40 years. The problem is that we may be running out of time to hand feed information to the public so they will understand that the problem is urgent, but you can't even make that much progress if you reject any identification with their basic needs.

For real

I disagree. In my experience, people seem to feel extremely liberated when addressing the root of the problem rather than pretending progress can be made via false solutions like cap and trade and carbon credits...

Give em hell Al

Will big Al cruise in on his private jet and advocate for us plebs to purchase lame electric cars ???

What... the UN HQ isn't good enough???

I have to agree with TG on this one. Show me an “ozone hole” and I’ll stop using CFC’s… show me a “cancer cluster” and I’ll stay away from it and its suspected causes… show me some birds that hit the “endangered species” list due to insecticides and I’ll quit using DDT. But… tell me the earth (as a whole) is getting warmer and I’ve got to stop using gas… meanwhile… China is drilling for oil between Florida and Cuba… and every 3rd world dictatorship is trying to get a car factory or chemical plant built in their little piece of paradisio!!! And… the only ones that have to change what they’re doing is US??? But… no one wants US to lead the world in anything anymore (you know… that whole “imperialist” thing we got going on). Plus… we’re not given a viable alternative to replace a major aspect of our lifestyle (fossil fuel consumption)… other than “ride a bus”??? Jeez… do you believe a “beltway” democrat would ever be caught dead in “bus rapid transit”??? You can’t convince me that ANYONE in government really wants to change what we’re doing. The only ones I’ve ever seen take “global warming” serious enough to actually make a lifestyle change… has been a small tribe of tree hugging dirt worshipers from the 60’s… and in another 15 years they’ll be gone too… Oh yeah… and those “exceptional” people who want US to invest our “family jewels” in carbon credits (which opened at 15 Euros today). Personally… if I’m going to bet on a shot-in-the-dark… I’m speculating on beach front property in Orlando. ALSO… will someone please tell me why the UN is having meeting in CANCUN… when they have a perfectly good building in NYC??? How many carbon credits will that meeting use???


Please don't waste WMNF air time on this silliness. Global warming is the result of natural global rhythms -like solar cycles. All the associated topics, like Cap and Trade, world climate conferences, and eco farming, are just political BS. It does you no credit to swallow this crap and regurgitate it like stupid, self-important parrots.

Johnny S. vs. the world's scientists

Good thing Johnny S. spoke up! I was beginning to think all the leading scientists in the world were on to something with this climate change thing. (Whew!) Thank God for anonymous know it alls! Take That all you logical, scientific, smarty pants types! Go spew your "facts backed up by tons of data" somewhere where people care, like, I dont know, Europe??

The sky's falling...

Hay… Happily Stupid (wow…that’s kind of anonymous) …are those the same scientists that were providing global climate data to Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia and the Climatic Research Unit??? You know… the ones that were exposed for manipulating global climate data and providing that manipulated data to the rest of the world… in… what was it called??? Oh yeah… “Climate-gate”!!! Even though it was covered extensively in Europe… I doubt you ever heard of it… the only news outlet in the US to cover that scandal was Fox News. Of course… missing little tidbits of information like “Climate-gate” is a small price you must pay if all you’re going to listen to is the “real news”. By-the-way… where was it that I heard… “Between his Oscar-winning film, best-selling books, comfy board positions on Google and Apple and his investments on, "green company start-ups," some estimates are out there that Al Gore has made over $500 million off the global warming hype and stands to make much more.” …oh yeah… that was on Fox also. Not a bad profit for someone who just admitted he was wrong about “corn made ethanol”. Yo… HS… in your humble opinion… what would you give to scientists on the take… the boot… or a grant???

ClimateGate has been exposed as a deadly PR stunt

Glenn, I think you've misinterpreted the facts around "ClimateGate." First of all, yes Fox News seized upon it to help sell their agenda to you, but they certainly weren't the only outlet duped by the spin masters who have a vested interest in keeping the climate change story off the radar. Here is a piece I wrote on the subject last year: Upon close scrutiny, the "climategate scandal" is a facade that melts away just like the ice caps...

I'm MELLLLTING... mellllting...

Kelly… nice piece and a good read… both paragraphs. I was especially amused by your “…an anonymous hacker who stole a few emails…” comment, considering that the material comprised of more than 1,000 emails and 2,000 documents. Your opening sentence “…Rush, Glenn, Sarah Palin, or any of the other shit talkers from the overflowing swamp of right wing punditry…” was a clear indication of your unbiased urinalistic approach to the subject. But… since we’re site sharing… try this one on for size… I’m sure it won’t fit you… but it looks a hell of a lot better… journalistically speaking.


Hay Kelly… I see why you went to Creative Loafing to do your piece… the “real news” station didn’t allow ANY articles on “Climate-Gate”.

Vote For Charlie!

What? Kelly's not a girl? Kelly is a girl's name. I thought I was responding to a girl. Anyway, anyone who can't think for themselves and falls for the sensationalist clap trap that captures every generation is not the kind of guy I want on MY city council. Vote for Charlie!

Vote For Kelly!

Damage to the environment is a sober subject and should be discussed in a rational manner - but Johnny S. and Glenn Pendergrass would rather engage in personal attacks and partisan pissing matches. I'm backing the candidate who provides reasonable solutions to our community's problems. Alternative transit solutions are in our community's bests interests. Vote for Kelly Benjamin!

I prefer “Private Benjamin” (Goldie is so HOT)

Dude… check again… for the most part, I’ll support anything alternative… transportation, fuel, lifestyles… but … if you think I’m going to give-up anything I have, before there is a viable “solution” readily available… you sir, are sadly mistaken. As for your accusations of “personal attacks”… check again… I’ve never attacked anyone “personally”… who didn’t attack me “personally” first. Now… I have tried to stomp mud-holes in those opinions that I didn’t necessarily agree with… and some that I did agree with… just to get a conversation started… and I will continue to do so. As for rational discussions on sober subjects… I haven’t seen “Danny Neutral” present an opinion… for discussion… on anything in the past month or so. But… that’s what happens when you’re in neutral all the time… you don’t get anywhere unless you’re on a hill (just another accident looking for someplace to happen)!!! By-the-way… I wouldn’t know Kelly Benjamin if he/she were pissin & moanin on my partisan flakes.

cogent arguments

Sorry Kelly, I keep hoping that a rational argument will spring up but instead we get the same kind of denials that are eventually going to prove there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Good luck with that. The melting of the ice cap? yeah, can't believe my eyes on that one. Ice that's millions of years old is sliding into the water, but why should we think that's anything other than a natural fluctuation. And the ozone layer? why, we must not have had anything to do with causing that either.......Thanks for your good work, Kelly, I'll try to keep the ankle biters in their place.

No... just a failure to communicate.

Hay TG… glad you’re in on this… I’ve never denied “global warming”… but strictly man-made… which is exactly how it’s being presented… I’ll debate that in a heartbeat. As for your WMD’s in Iraq… I DON’T CARE!!! We should have put a bullet in the heads of every member of the Ba’ath Party for what they did to the Kurds (chemical warfare on thousands of civilians, including CHILDREN)… as well as torturing and killing thousands of their own people!!! Oh, TG… please tell US you were OK with that… and I won’t be the only one in your face…book!!! YO… Kelly… you keep on trying!!! And I’ll try to keep the nail biters in their place… unless of course… you were OK with what the Ba’athist’s did… which is something I think your constituents would find interesting. What was it you were running for???


I don't go to facebook more than once an eon, guess I'll have to check it out. As far as bringing up Iraq, that was probably a bad idea, but the point I was trying to make is that people will keep denying the man-made influences as long as they keep listening to the kind of experts that Faux News has to offer. And rally, Glen, you have some common sense, how DO you explain the melting of the polar ice cap, since it hasn't melted on any kind of regular basis since the last ice age. Do you really just put it up to coincidence? Why do you think it's any different than the hole in the ozone that we talked about earlier? Because we have to get to the other side of this argument before we can start working out some viable solutions, not just the pipe smoke the eggheads are coming up with.


I was invited this morning to add my comments to those generated by the above article. This will be the first time that I’ve interacted with this type of format. I’ve read through other convoluted threads that follow other controversial articles before, but I tend to skip the comments. It's an odd format for a debate since it is largely devoid of any accountability on the part of the participants, and the result seems to generate more quantity of information than quality. Sort of like a ephemeral Applause-o-meter, whichever point of view gets the most comments “wins”. But here I go adding my thoughts to the fray; perhaps arguing in vain in order to offer another point of view! My point of view is this – at this point there is no point; no point in trying to convince the willfully ignorant that something should be done to at least mitigate the destruction of the ecosystems that we depend on. It’s too late for them. The facts are vastly on the side of anthropogenically caused climate change, but it doesn’t matter. Logic has no place within this debate, if it did then the possibility of catastrophic climate change would be treated with the same sober calculations that one makes when considering homeowner’s insurance; there’s only about a 2% chance that your house will catch on fire, but such an event would be extremely devastating, so most folks choose to insure themselves. The chances of dramatic climate change are much higher and will ultimately be destructive on a global scale. So, some sort of provision for this kind of low probability/high impact event would be a sensible action, but this is of course not the case. So, to all of you wonderfully articulate writers keep trying to ply the dis-believing with the nectar of facts and figures, maybe a few thirsty souls will take a draught. Maybe you will change one mind or two that wasn’t already swayed a little to your side. As for the rest of us, save your strength and talents for more important things, the time has past for ego-stroking dead-end internet debates, and piece-meal governmental concessions. Ten years ago I used to tell people that we had a 20-year window before the damage we’ve done to our world becomes irreversible. Now there are many indications that we are in fact past that threshold, that the 20-year window got shut a little early. This certainly doesn’t mean it’s "the end of the world", but it does mean that, for each one of us, we need to reevaluate our priorities and re-orient our lives based on an increasingly chaotic climate and a low-energy future. Let’s get our affairs in order, whatever you think they may be. For those who don’t believe in any of this (and a recent study indicates that this is the majority view in the US, Pakistan, and Poland), that’s fine. If you’d like to eviscerate my comments and make slanderous remarks, go ahead. Seriously. I won’t lose a bit of sleep over it. But I do ask one thing of you. Please, PLEASE, if you don't already, learn how to grow your own food! Take Care

Headed south...

Welcome to the discussion R. Shurtz… and those were excellent observations. Please… continue to interact with this type of format… you seem to be able to play well with others and you may be fun… now, if you will excuse me. Hay TG… ever hear of the Piri Reis Map??? Yeah, though it be controversial… it does exist!!! In a nutshell… “The Piri Reis map shows the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and the northern coast of Antarctica. The northern coastline of Antarctica is perfectly detailed. The most puzzling however is not so much how Piri Reis managed to draw such an accurate map of the Antarctic region 300 years before it was discovered, but that the map shows the coastline under the ice. Geological evidence confirms that the latest date Queen Maud Land could have been charted in an ice-free state is 4000 BC.” …hummm... 4000 BC… let’s see… that would be 8000 years after the last ice age… and regular monitoring of the polar regions started… what… 150 years ago. In your opinion… what time frame constitutes “…melted on any kind of regular basis…”??? The real question however is… why was there a polar ice retreat 6000 years ago??? I’m going to bounce that one back into your court TG… or yours RS… and please… try not to hung-up on “That’s just one interpretation of a piece gazelle hide…” because in general… that’s been the typical go-to response for “global warming” if you substitute the word data for gazelle hide.

Not My Fault

Once again.. humans are not responsible for global warming. There have been several ice ages. The polar caps have frozen and thawed over and over. WHY do you eggheads insist on saying that THIS time, it's our fault?


As Mr. Shurtz suggested, if there is a 1 per cent chance that we can do something to change the endgame, we should already be doing it. Just like, Iraq, when the Neocons decided if there was a 1 per cent chance that Saddam had WMD it was somehow worth invading. I don't buy that logic, but explain the difference to me. You know when DDT got banned all the Conservatives fought against it. They said we would lose the ability to feed the world if. Didn't happen. I wouldn't be surprised if most of those arguments against banning DDT were written by pesticide makers. Now, we have the anti-global warming pseudo science that's been funded by the oil companies, and a flat earth society that buys into it, with popcorn. Did you know they are already planning to drill in the areas where the melt has occurred? Have some popcorn with your Koolaid, gentlemen.

lousy fame-hungry egghead scientists with their li

I've got cable TV and have a middle school science education. I understand that the earth is subject to a number of ecological cycles, so I don't need no egghead scientists to tell me nothin'. Al Gore is making a lot of money, and since he was the 1st person ever to raise a red flag about this whole climate change issue, it follows that all arguments for it are now invalid. Also a pair of scientists fudged some data, so that invalidates everyone else's work too. Thousands of scientists working for decades have got nothin' on my comprehension of climate. When will those lousy eggheads get it?

Convoluted data...

The influential 1999 "hockey stick" reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere temperatures for the past 1000 years (relative to the average of 1961-90); the dark line shows mean values and the gray band, often overlooked, shows the range of uncertainty: Please see charts at the bottom of the page. Below: a more recent and more accurate reconstruction for the past 1300 years. Northern Hemisphere temperature data from ten 21st-century studies of tree rings and a variety of other proxies are combined, with darker colors showing areas of greater agreement. The black line 1850-2000 shows temperatures recorded by thermometers. The "Little Ice Age" of early modern times is evident in nearly all studies. A "Medieval Warm Period" around 1000 AD is found in some studies but not others. In the less complete data (not shown) for the Southern Hemisphere, the Little Ice age is apparent but not a Medieval Warm Period. By-the-way... I can't believe you let me get away with the Piri Reis Map...


This isn't the kind of forum where I could link sources, but yeah, I thought about asking whether this map was for sale from the guys in Hollywood with the maps to the stars. Personally, I agree with Sam. Did you find any evidence of sn Arctic Passage while you were checking the Texas school books? Do you think Leif Erickson followed that channel or did he go along the freeze line by way Iceland and Greenland?

Still Not My Fault

What? No answer to my simple question? Just insults. It's clear that this disagreement is not about the facts. It's about the way we think and who we trust.

an answer to your simple question

Human activities are increasing the rate of change. Simple answer. Personally I think the whole climate change debate is pointless. More important is the cause, the common sense issue that we are exhausting non-renewable natural resources that our modern existence depends upon, with no plans for change. When I say "exhausting," I mean "we burn it." Smoke is bad - don't believe me, go stick your head in the chimney. Simple answer. If it's really about who we trust, then who's more trustworthy: scientists or businessmen?


I agree with Sam. The "global warming" argument is pointless. There are stubborn people on both sides who aren't going to budge no matter what you say. However, if you don't want to believe in climate change caused by human activity. Then that's fine. I acknowledge that nothing will change your mind at this point. But you can't argue that drilling for oil, and mining for coal is not polluting the water and air on this planet, a little more every day. You can't argue that it's sustainable for very much longer. Unless you're not concerned with it because it won't happen "in your lifetime". In that case I'm guessing you don't have children in addition to common sense.

I Trust Myself

Human activities are increasing the rate of change? Humans have just arrived on the scene speaking in geologic terms. I don't see how you could arrive at that conclusion. The way I see it, when I fly cross country, I can sit and stare out the window for hours and see nothing but forest. Man and his effects are miniscule compared to the planet as a whole. I don't understand how you can get your panties all rolled up in a bunch over something so questionable, so unproven. Concerned, maybe, but hysterical to the point that you insult everyone who disagrees with you? I don't get that. Who do I trust more? Scientists or businessmen? Is that how you see the world? There are a lot more sides to the topic. I think for myself and listen to everyone. And I trust just about no one. We are all idiots.


"Humans have just arrived on the scene speaking in geologic terms. I don't see how you could arrive at that conclusion." Umm, your first sentence answers your second sentence. It's having to explain that point that is pointless. "The way I see it, when I fly cross country, I can sit and stare out the window for hours and see nothing but forest. Man and his effects are miniscule compared to the planet as a whole." That statement is just that, "the way I see it." Listen to the scientists. This is what they do for a living. Your perspective on the size of the forest is meaningless. There are more than 2 sides, true. On one side you have scientists claiming climate change is occurring and that humans are responsible for it's increased rate. On a bunch of other sides, you have a bunch of other people offering a bunch of other unqualified opinions. As far as trust goes, you brought that up. Not everyone is an idiot. The only idiots are the egoists. The ones who think they know better than those who actually know better. If you felt like you had a lump that might be a cancerous tumor, would you just ask for your neighbor's diagnosis and go with that, cuz hey, he's a nice guy, or would you ask your doctor? I imagine you'd ask the person who was trained in medicine. Call it trust, call it respect for the years of hard work that someone has put in to earn their position and title, call it whatever you like, the point is the same. So, when I want to know if there is a climate issue, I listen to what the climate scientists have to say. Yes, I will do some thinking for myself, but I'm not going to pretend that I'm more of an expert on the topic than they are. When did everyone decide they are smarter than scientists? I don't see the world as only scientists vs. businessmen, but you better believe that I will never believe that burning fossil fuels is renewable, I will never believe that extracting coal and oil contributes to the health of an ecosystem (there is nothing questionable or unproven there), and I will never believe the words of anyone associated with the fossil fuel industry when they say otherwise. And if it came down to a choice of supporting a business that lied to get you on the side of being ecologically friendly versus a business that lied to get you on the side of being wasteful and destructive, I still know who I'd support. I like to fly across the country as much as the next guy, but I'm not gonna pretend my actions don't have consequences. I know it's wasteful. I know it's harmful. But I'm still going to be mindful... If you are taking these ideas as insults, that is indicative of your perspective, the way you think, and whom you trust. The facts are not really debatable in the scientific arena, only the political.


I guess when g-willy was calling people "you eggheads", that didn't count as "hysterical to the point that you insult everyone who disagrees with you? I don't get that." It sounds as though g-willy gets that just fine.

What's that ugly thing on you neck???

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!!! Sam… you say “On one side you have scientist’s…” and “…on a bunch of other sides you have a bunch of other… unqualified opinions…” DUDE!!! Using that line of thought… how do you know that the big-ass censorious tumor on your neck… that you were just diagnosed with… isn’t just a Class-2 Goitre… if you can’t get a “qualified” second opinion???


Oh come off it Glenn. You know as well as I and everyone else does that you were just waiting for the opportunity to say something. Since you seem to be on here constantly. Way to take something out of context and turn it into a joke. As usual..The point is you should trust someone's opinion based on their credibility. Meaning not trusting politicians or businessmen (or pundits on TV for that matter). Who is it that you would think is more credible on the subject besides scientists who have dedicated their lives to the subject? Would you only need one other opposite opinion that's possibly credible to go the other way? Or would you need hundreds (maybe thousands) of accumulated credible opinions to see where the majority lies. In that case, I think the vote is in.


Faux news overthrows WMNF

This is a sad day. Randy I'm disappointed in you.

Not My Fault

First, not all scientists agree that people are responsible for global warming. Second, scientists are people and, as people, they are vulnerable to the range of human experience and frailties. Do I really need to list all the examples of scientific folly or will you admit right now that scientists are fallible.

yes, obviously human beings are fallible...

Yes, not all scientists agree, obviously, but every internationally recognized organization of scientists, with the exception of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, is in agreement that humans are most likely responsible for an increased rate of climate change. People in the scientific community no longer consider this to be a debate. p.s. Glenn, if I wanted a second opinion on a medical condition I'd go ask a second doctor, not a plumber or a salesman.