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Dispatches from the Copenhagen Climate Conference—A Bumpy Night

Update: The COP15 Web site is reporting around 10:30 p.m. that the U.S., China, India, and South Africa have reached a “meaningful agreement” on climate change—earlier than anticipated. A senior U.S. official who talked to the Associated Press said that the deal was not enough to slow warming, however.

Today the conference center was transformed into a U.N. Hollywood: Every few seconds a tight mass of people would go racing by with a famous politician at its core, TV journalists close at its heels.

President Obama spoke at the morning informal session, and I wormed my way into a jam-packed audience of people watching his speech from one of the televisions in the main hall.

He emphasized the time to talk is over—but, if anything, the intense discussions have just begun. The COP15 Web site is reporting that world leaders have been asked to stay overnight on Friday, as talks are expected to go into the weekend.

I also stopped by a press conference held by U.S. Congressional Republicans, most of whom said they hope there is no significant outcome of the Copenhagen conference. Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn told the briefing she’s all for clean air, water, and energy, but not for taxing U.S. citizens. Indeed, the Washington Post reported today that U.S. public support for funding climate change initiatives has crumbled.

Most of the science side events and press conferences were canceled today, but I did swing by one interesting talk on the Brazilian news organization Globo’s Amazônia project, which provides Internet users with an interactive map of Brazil deforestation and wildfire data. Satellites supply wildfire data six times a day, and deforestation data once a month.

A user can then virtually “protest” damage to the forests by clicking on an icon. In addition, if users have information about what they believe are illegal activities—99 percent of the deforestation in Brazil is illegal, according to speaker Eduardo Acquarone—they can send in photos, videos, or emails to alert authorities.

The project’s goal is that these volunteer monitors—now 550,000 strong—will motivate the government to investigate illegal activities, as well as achieve Brazil’s goal of reducing deforestation by 50 percent by 2020, Acquarone said.

The data has been available to the public for several years, but Acquarone told me that he wanted to make it more transparent—to get a “15-year-old that lives in Rio or Sao Paulo to try to understand why everyone talks about deforestation in the Amazon.”

With all the other COP15 events now over, one of the biggest gatherings in history is fully focused on hammering out a climate deal. With the conference center still buzzing at 8 p.m., it’s clear it’s going to be a long—and bumpy—night.

Christine Dell’Amore


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    Hi Christine,
    I think you have written a very interesting article as it is about a topic that means a lot to me…Climate Change!
    There are a few things that I would like to discuss, the first being the point you made here: “that U.S. public support for funding climate change initiatives has crumbled.”
    and also: “Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn told the briefing she’s all for clean air, water, and energy, but not for taxing U.S. citizens”
    While I agree with the points you made about deforestation in the Amazon and clean air etc…it is the ‘Global warming’ aspect of the Coopenhagen conference that doesn’t sit well with me.
    That is why I said those quotes above took my interest. The reason being that there is a huge amount of valid science and in fact over 30,000 US scientists (8000 with PHD’s) that signed a petition stating there is no science to prove man made global warming exsits. Sure the globe may be hotter than a few years ago, but this is quite normal, as we have had much hotter periods than now, and the planet thrived with vegetation.
    Carbon levels follows temperature and not the other way around, which would indicate increases in atmospheric carbon increase temperature.
    If one believes the later, then it creates a platform of which to introduce change to prevent carbon, which leads to tax on industry, and big money for people with a vested interest in so called “carbon neutral business”
    Science is what speaks and I personally believe valid science has been suppressed on purpose in this area of the environment, as it would hinder profit!
    One needs not even be scientific if they are not inclined that way though, as all it takes is common sense. What I mean is that for 3 decades of the period of the industrial revolution, when carbon producing industry was booming, the planet in fact experienced 3 consecutive decades of cooling!!!
    So I am many other scientists find it hard to believe that carbon drives temperature.
    Your points on the Globo’s Amazônia project, I believe in and think are real issues that must be addressed.
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