Climate Feedback

An audience with the UN Secretary-General – and some rather general statements

Bali, Indonesia –

There was a chance today for journalists to hear from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UNFCCC, at a lunchtime press conference usually given by the (often batik-shirted) Yvo de Boer. This conference has so far been a useful purified daily dose of what’s been going on behind closed doors in the Bali meetings.

But today’s was a bit of a disappointment. Although the beginning of Ban Ki-moon’s speech was suitably rousing – “Today we are at a crossroads – one path leading towards a comprehensive new climate agreement and the other towards a betrayal of our planet and our children” – from this point on it felt as if (to bleed the analogy dry) he got a bit lost.

The questions he faced were fairly predictable – but the answers frustrating and woolly. When asked about his view on emissions targets for particular countries, he replied: “There are differences of opinion between developed and developing countries, and even among these groups”.

In contrast, I got the distinct impression that was no difference of opinion among many of the journalists in attendance. Many thought it was all a bit watered-down. That view was epitomised by one question asked of him at the end: if all countries have already agreed to formal negotiations, and the purpose of this meeting isn’t to go any further and define targets and talk numbers, have we achieved what we wanted? Shall we all just go home?

“We need to expedite our process of negotiation”, he said halfway through – but I couldn’t help feeling that if the high-level negotiations going on this week are proceeding at the same swimming-through-treacle pace as this press conference, he would have a hard time expediting anything.

Kerri Smith


  1. Report this comment

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A. said:

    From my vantage point, perhaps now is an occasion to discuss the human overpopulation of Earth and how a population of 6.63 billion people now can SUSTAINABLY GROW to a projected 9.2 billion people in 2050. That is a 40% increase in the global human population in the next 43 years.

    Let’s look at what is happening now. We have millions of people who are conspicuously over-consuming Earth’s limited resources and becoming obese; on the other hand, billions of people do not have substantial sustenance, are going hungry, living in poverty and many are emaciated.

    How on this good Earth are we going to manage 2 1/2 billion additional people to our current numbers by 2050 and improve life for the family of humanity? Is such a goal realistic? If so, how? If not, then what can be done to move forward in a humane, more reality-oriented way, thereby preserving life as we know it and the integrity of Earth?

    Skyrocketing absolute global human population numbers could soon threaten life as we know it; and obscence per human over-consumption of resources, at a rate that dissipates Earth’s resources faster than they can be restored for human benefit, could irreversibly degrade our planetary home.

    Scientific research, reason and common sense fail to provide good evidence of how “proper management” and “improvement in human wellbeing and environmental health” are realistically accomplished between now and 2050. I am supposing that we cannot keep doing what we are doing now: that is, over-consuming and overpopulating the planet we inhabit. Ideas of “staying the current course” remind me of magical thinking and such a strategy looks like a prescription for disaster.

    For example, the seemingly endless growth of the global economy, or of any other human construction, for that matter, is bound to become patently unsustainable at some point in time in a finite world, will it not? Whatsoever is is, is it not…..regardless of human wishes and intentions to the contrary?

    Is it reasonable and sensible to consider alternatives? Let us examine the probability that in 2050, we will have millions more people over-consuming resources, just as we are doing now. We will also have billions more people going without substantial sustenance by 2050.

    If such an unsustainable situation was somehow likely to occur in first half of Century XXI, then we could begin now to protectively and ably respond by putting forward a humane and more reality-oriented “action plan” both for limiting per-capita over-consumption of finite resources and rapidly reducing absolute global human population numbers.



    Steven Earl Salmony

    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

Comments are closed.