Climate Talks Make Progress As Skeptics, Activists Abound

As you would expect, a confab such as the Cancun Climate Conference attracts a wide range of people. There are representatives from some 190 nations, a strong contingent of students, activist groups and climate skeptics, including a Republican senator who likes to stir things up.

Oklahoma senator James Inhofe makes it a habit to visit these types of events. Last year, he showed up at a press center in Copenhagen (calling himself a "one-man truth squad") and called global warming a hoax.

He isn't physically at Cancun, but that didn't stop him from appearing via video, where, according to this report in The New York Times, he attacked "global warming alarmists" and the efforts to curtail climate change.

"Nothing is going to happen in Cancun this year and everyone knows it," The New York Times quoted him as saying. "I couldn’t be happier and poor Al Gore couldn’t be more upset."

At the other end of the spectrum and in attendance is Bill McKibben, author of the best-seller, "EAARTH." He claims global warming has already changed the planet and that bad things are on the horizon if temperatures increase.

He is quoted in this Voice of America story as saying, "The arctic is melting quickly, Russia caught on fire this summer, Pakistan drowned (in floods), the ocean is 30 percent more acid than it used to be. We are in tough shape with less than a degree of temperature increase."

Along those lines have been a litany of studies release in Cancun that are gloomy scary: the latest came out today and proclaims 2010 one of the three top hottest years on record and this decade as the hottest 10-year period ever.

That followed one on Wednesday that predicted a doubling of grain prices by 2050 if emissions follow on the current path.

So, there is incentive to press for significant results at Cancun. The Guardian issued a first-week recap - a scorecard if you will on progress so far.

Here it is in brief form.


Objective: holding emissions to a maximum temperature rise of 2C.
Progress: Little. Outlook: bleak.

Objective: Reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation, with $30 billion going to developing nations to protect and restore forests.
Progress: little. Outlook: Good.

Objective: Set up $100 billion fund by 2020 to help developing countries affected by climate change.
Progress: Good. Outlook: Outlook: Close to agreement.

Objective: To get rich countries to extend the Kyoto protocol, and state plans for emissions cuts.
Progress: Backwards; Outlook: Critical.

Objective: Countries commit to monitor, report and verify progress on emissions reduction.
Progress: China and the US say they could compromise on India proposal; Outlook: Breakthrough possible.