"Every year we delay efforts to inhibit emissions of greenhouse gases ...will make it ten times as hard to pull back in the next century."
This warning was delivered by Tom Spencer, Member of the European Parliament and International Chairman of Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment, at the State of the World Forum at the Fairmont Hotel yesterday (Oct 30).
The title of Mr. Spencer's address was Climate Change: One Year After Kyoto. Kyoto was where the nations of the world agreed to stringent new limits on the emissions of six greenhouse gases.
However, that agreement is subject to ratification by the legislatures of each participating nation. "The first blockage to that is the United States Senate," Mr. Spencer said. Senators were bending to lobbyists opposed to such controls.
Then, Spencer said, there was the challenge of convincing the world's non-industrialized states. "Undeveloped countries say, 'why should we make sacrifices now when it was you in the developed world that caused the problem in the first place.' History is littered with treaties that were never ratified."
How long do we have to persuade the U.S. and enough other nations to come along?
"It could take 20 years, it could take 40 years, but it should not, in my opinion take more than three years if we are going to overcome the problems we've created."
Mr. Spencer called on his audience to contribute five percent of their campaigning time in the coming year to this cause, perhaps writing letters to their local newspaper, letters to their congressman or other political representatives.
The most powerful persuasion, however, might turn out to be nature itself. Mr. Spencer said the extreme heat and calamitous floods in Florida and Texas over the past few months had made people realize that we have already altered the precarious balance - and changed the earth's climate for the worse.