Paris, the Useless Summit

Climate change, not terrorism, is without any exaggeration the main threat to the survival of mankind. So say many of the most renowned scientists, politicians and most clear thinking intellectuals, as well as, the aspiring U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and even the Pentagon and the CIA.

With repulsive warlike enthusiasm, however, most of the governments of the globe, Mexico included, are concerned less with the battle against climate change than that against the primitive Islamic State.

This warmongering priority is clear among the representatives of more than 190 countries that will attend the two-week 21st International Conference on Climate Change or the COP21 that begins on Monday in a violated Paris, a conference which was highly promising before the Friday the 13th attacks, but instead has been aborted beforehand.

With supine optimism Rodolfo Lacy, deputy secretary of planning and policy at SEMARNAT, the Mexican Environment Ministry, advanced the interest of the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto by presenting the Mexican position as “cutting edge” at the summit. Mexico, he said, “is a respectful voice heard and analyzed” in the international arena.

This ingenious official also predicted that among other commitments our country will “achieve a zero deforestation rate in its protected natural areas,” and even advanced — without noting discrepancies or guilt for the problem of global environmental degradation—the absurd proposal that all nations, not just developed nations, must achieve “partnership and equal participation” in containing temperatures, reducing emissions and in short, averting the destruction of nature.

Without wishing to spoil the party, it is clear: the preponderance of military interests of the major powers, an effort in which our government is impetuously enlisted as a sidekick of Uncle Sam, has rendered useless the studies, plans and projects developed by climate scientists and governments — some a little less indolent than others — as well as the studies by civil society organizations interested in the care and preservation of the planet.

However convincing the speeches at COP21 may be, and however modest the results of their efforts, we have a summit sadly unable to achieve the specific agreement to not exceed two degrees of global warming — an increase of one degree was reached in 2015, which has been the hottest year in history — and drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to avert catastrophe.

Already scarce international funds will now be used to finance the war against the Islamic State group for the acquisition of sophisticated military supplies and not to tackle, for example, the effects of Saharan dust that we literally breathe up our nose.

Twenty-eight million tons of this microscopic sand is expelled every year over the Atlantic and nurtures the trees of the Amazon forest, but it also causes drought in Central America and constitutes a serious threat to public health in Mexico, mainly in the Gulf Coast states and the Caribbean.

El Niño with its drought and La Niña with its floods will persist as causes of disaster in our region, as will the huge and increasingly frequent hurricanes like Patricia, the heat wave in Argentina, wildfires in California, air pollution in China that has begun to reduce food production in the western United States and the lack of drinking water in Sao Paulo, the result of the lack of rain which is in turn the result of deforestation.

According to the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a self-defined socialist in a country where even Barack Obama is thought by the Republican tea party to be a communist, the aggravation of extreme weather events will intensify struggles for land and natural resources, which will result in greater poverty, violence, wars, migration and receptiveness of people to the radical messages of terrorists. In saying this, the would-be occupant of the White House is, in terms of climate change, saying what the Pentagon and the CIA are saying.

The World Bank estimates that by keeping things as they are, the increased temperature will plunge 100 million people into extreme poverty, a total of 900 million in just 15 years. But all indications are that the conference in the French capital, projected as a critical opportunity to adopt radical commitments tailored to the magnitude of the problem, will be just one more meeting, without achieving any tangible reality.

The outlook, though, suggests that the Paris summit will not be a stormy one due to an atmosphere of mourning; that is the prevalent view. Calm will prevail at least in the statements that are made, as will the spirit of unity and international solidarity.

In the end, the commitments arising from the COP21 will not have a chance to materialize. There is a lack of national and global resources needed to develop public policies and encourage environmental education and respect of the people for the ecological environment, and above all, to control the greed and the interests of large transnational corporations that dictate the foreign policies of their countries and the private sectors that are used to operating without any limitations or notion of sustainable resources, be they renewable or not.

In the political paradox of Paris, we will wind up imposing the warlike momentum of socialist Francois Hollande, whom everyone takes seriously, not the gringo socialist Sanders, whom, unfortunately, everyone laughed at when he prioritized the risks of climate change over the atrocities of the jihad and other deranged people.

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