Politics and Global Warming : When Power is Uncoupled with Knowledge

Updated: Sep 10, 2020



If anyone has followed the global warming problem from the beginning, they will know how urgent and serious it is.  Global warming has become a priority issue in major international conferences including the top summits such as G7, ASEAN, AFTA, UN Annual Conferences and the European Union, including the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) which previously has been focused on economic issues. Now everyone’s admitted that no one could live well, or could definitely be happy if the house is on fire…

In a few months, there will be the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 25). This meeting, held for 2 weeks in early December annually, is the most important and largest global warming meeting in the world. The experts in various fields, scientists, thousands of academics, agencies and organizations about environment will come together to discuss problems and find solutions together with the important goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (focus mainly on carbon dioxide) and control the increase in global temperature not to exceed the level before the Industrial Revolution.

As a matter of fact, despite so many meetings, signs of failure had frequently been seen. By 2009, a report from the Australian Academy of Sciences called “The Critical Importance of Less Than 350 PPM CO2,” which describes the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should not exceed the amount which can be roughly converted to an increase in global temperature, no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, in order to maintain the earth’s balance, especially, the marine balance as the sea is the biggest heat absorber at the moment.

The report also predicted that if everyone still lives without awareness of the environment and society, carbon dioxide will definitely reach 450 ppm during the year 2030-2040. However, last year, the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on   Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed that the average global temperature has already been increased approximately 1 degree Celsius and is very likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius before year 2030.

How that is possible? Did the environmental measures, green economy or consumer behavior alteration policies over the past 10 years, not help at all? Hundreds of scientific information obviously shows in which direction the world is heading toward.  Even every meeting has set goals that are scientifically supported. Then what’s happening?

The final answer is with the leaders and government policy of each country.  Everything depends on the consciousness and awareness of the leaders and policy makers.

The most obvious example is the US President, Donald Trump, who doesn’t believe global warming is caused by human and sees that global warming is just a kind of substance that causes the pollution. That is one of the reasons why he’s withdrawn from the Paris agreement. On June1, was the second anniversary that Trump has withdrawn from the agreement. (The Paris agreement is an agreement signed by President Barack Obama in Paris, France in 2015, aiming for countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Currently, 197 countries have signed it and 184 countries ratified the agreement.) Fortunately, the withdrawal announcement will not take effect immediately.  That is because there is an agreement stating that the associate country must wait 3 years before requesting the withdrawal and the cancellation will be in effect 1 year afterwards. Within those periods combined, Trump may have ended his term.  (And if he loses the second election, the world might be saved from this leader just in time.)

That is an example of policy destruction. A more concrete and most tangible evidence of a catastrophic disaster is the Amazon forest fire. The Amazon forest is considered “the lungs of the world”, the rainforests with the most biodiversity in the world, a source of many important medicines such as antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs. As well as being one of the main ecological systems in the world that controls rainwater and carbon dioxide cycles. As a result, it plays a key role in controlling the global climate system. The forest fire caused by mobile plantation, yet the Brazilian government has ignored it. According to data from the National Space Research Institute of Brazil, there have been more than 80,000 forest fires, an increase of 80 percent from this time of year with the prediction that the fires would spread even more because it was entering the dry season.

The government has turned a blind eye on the issue because there is enormous amount of money from the cattle farming and soybean farming industries to be obtained from their exports not including the land beneath this forest which is abundant in oil waiting to be drilled. All of this happened because the current Brazilian government has a policy of emphasizing economic progress without thinking about sustainability so the measures to tighten and punish forest encroachers have been relaxed. Ministers in the related ministries gave interviews in support of the forest concessions with the accusation that the indigenous tribes living in the Amazon are hindering the country’s progression.

Last July, the head of the agency responsible for satellite images was fired since the president was not pleased that satellite images show enormous destruction of forests have been released which is destroying the image of the government.

No one knows the outcome of the UNFCCC meeting which will be held later this year. Although all parties are aware of the dangers that creep slowly and understand the future of the world, how many parties are willing to give up or reduce the benefits of their country, in order to give billions of people across the world a chance to escape from this crisis?  Even if the leader of the country is willing to give up, but in practice it is difficult because he must pay attention to the criticisms of those who disagree which sometimes is their base of power and the lobbying companies that are often the biggest donors of the party.

In the end, human nature always wins because most people make decisions based on the most obvious reasons. But the effects of global warming are gradual. Thus, it is common that we can sit and tolerate being slowly grilled in a burning house without feeling anything at all …

(Articles by Uamdao Noikorn)

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