Greetings from Copenhagen

Greetings from Copenhagen, December 11

We traveling divers love the island nations – Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomons, the Maldives, and those in the Caribbean – and the island nations are speaking in a very loud voice in Copenhagen.  Their argument, as I heard the ambassador from the Cape Verde Islands say today: “It was not us who put our waste in the atmosphere, but we are the ones who will suffer the most.”

Reef destruction may be upon us, with increased ocean acidification. As the sea gets warmer, more coral dies, taking the fishing industry with it.  The warming atmosphere and the seas produce more severe hurricanes and cyclones, floods, mud slides  . . .  and of the course the biggest threat, an increasing sea level that already has people living in nations like Tuvalu moving their homes inland or migrating elsewhere.

As I listened to the island-nation advocates, I could hear their fear and anger.  Those of us who live on beach fronts in America may experience some direct effect, and all of us can expect increased storms, but over then next decade or two the temperature increase for most of us may only mean a longer growing season for our roses and lower heating bills.  But the poor nations are on the battle lines. And they haven’t got the money to fight the war. So they are doing everything they can in this enormous gathering to make sure everyone knows it.

In my dive travels to island nations, I see bleached coral but I’ve never thought much about the effect of global warming on the people I meet.  I doubt that many divers do.  We tend to get off a plane, go directly to the resort and liveaboard, maybe mingle with the staff, get in as many dives as we can then go home.  But, unless we seriously curtail the amount of CO2 we – the US, the UK, and the rapidly industrializing world – spew into the air, in a generation or so these nations, the people and the reefs will be a shadow of what they are today.  We might as well stay home and dive the local quarry.

I’m impressed with energy I see in the enormous Copenhagen Bella Center, where 20,000 attendees are acutely aware of the problem and see the solutions.  Nonetheless there are plenty of reluctant governments.  In the history of humanity, there has never been such an all-encompassing issue.  At stake is whether mother earth will remain what we know, or whether our actions will change it irreversibly and disastrously.  My guess is that if the US and the other industrial nations don’t act forcefully this time around, what we divers love about the island nations will disappear before our very eyes.

Ben Davison
Publisher, Undercurrent

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PS:  If islander’s are eventually displaced, they need somewhere to go.
There are those who say the greatest problem with global warming will be the migration of hundreds of millions of people seeking
food, shelter and employment.  Today’s immigration problems will be insignificant compared to tomorrow.
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4 thoughts on “Greetings from Copenhagen”

  1. Here’s what an expert writing in the Washington Post (really, the Washington Post) has to say about all your green efforts:

    I know your silliness makes you feel better but…..

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  2. Up until two years ago, I offset my carbon footprint (including dive and other travel) buy purchasing offsets at Then I added photo voltaic panels alongside the solar water panels on my roof, so my home’s electric and hot water needs are supplied by the sun. I did this instead of updating my guest bath and doing a landscape reno. I traded in my perfectly good CR-V for an Escape Hybrid which I now dive out of. These are not cheap solutions, yet, but we all must do what we can, now. Here on Maui there is one dive operator, Extended Horizons, that runs on 100% biofuel, which is not cheap either (it’s from restaurant cooking oil – diesel fumes are replaced with the scent of donuts or french fries). In finding solutions to curb CO2 some will argue over the cost, and others will step in and just do something.

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  3. I believe we may be doomed given the sad shambles and cast of unyielding participants that are the Copenhagen summit.


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  4. People in temperate latitudes will experience a lot worse than a longer growing season.

    With the melting Polar Ice cap, the engine that runs our weather, the deep ocean currents that moderate the whole Earth will stop, changing weather patterns drastically. Already apparent to me. The major rice producing areas had a crop failure this year due to drought, and this winter is charging in with terrible snow storms in the USA.

    I am dismayed that so many don’t take Global Warming seriously. I believe we’re doomed.

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