If Copenhagen achieves nothing, the resulting delay to securing these vital agreements will be a terrible sentence for all human beings and the planet. The earth is a unique global ecosystem in which everything is interrelated. Today, misery afflicts many peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Tomorrow other countries will face extinction too.
Innocent Hodzongi Programmes director, Environment Africa, Zimbabwe
Lloyd Simwaka Progressio country director, Malawi
José Ramon Avila Director of the National Association of NGOs, Honduras
António Pacheco Director, Social and Economic Development Association of Santa Marta, El Salvador
María Elena Salas Dias Director, Cajamarca Ideas Centre, Peru
Dinorah Granadeiro Executive director, NGO Forum, Timor-Leste
Victor Ochoa President, Campamento Environmental Movement, Honduras
Dr Angel Ibarra Director, Salvadorian Ecological Union, El Salvador
Ego Lemos Founding director, Permaculture Timor-Leste, East Timor
María Elena Mendez Director, Centre for Women’s Studies, Honduras
Anna Zucchetti Director, GEA Group, Peru
Kevin Ndemera Progressio Country Director, Zimbabwe
Antonio Gaybor Executive secretary, National Water Resources Forum, Ecuador
Manuel Ernesto Cruz Director, Youth Development Foundation, El Salvador
Deometrio do Amaral Executive director, Haburas Foundation, Timor-Leste
Carmen Medina Progressio country director, El Salvador
Larry José Madrigal Rajo General co-ordinator, Bartolomé de las Casas Centre, El Salvador
Dulce Marlen Contreras Co-ordinator of Rural Women’s Association of La Paz, Honduras
Luís Camacho Progressio country director, Ecuador
Lidia Castillo Director, Centre for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights, El Salvador
Roque Rivera Executive director, Popol Nah Tun, Honduras
Jesús Garza Co-ordinator of the Honduran Coalition for People’s Action, Honduras
Marianela Gibaja Progressio country director, Peru
Dr Juan Almendares Bonilla Founding director, Mother Earth Movement, Honduras
Xiomara Ventura Progressio Country Director, Honduras
Maximus Tahu Researcher, La’o Hamutuk, Timor-Leste
Juvinal Dias Researcher, La’o Hamutuk, Timor-Leste
Jesus Garza Coordinator, The Honduran Coalition for People’s Action, Honduras
Tibor van Staveren Progressio country director, Timor-Leste
Dr Jeannette Alvarado Director, Maquilishuat Foundation, El Salvador
• As one who was at Seattle to see the WTO‘s open-market blitzkrieg temporarily halted, I wholeheartedly agree with Madeleine Bunting’s perceptive bookending of the noughties with Seattle and Copenhagen (Protesters in Seattle warned us what was coming, but we didn’t listen, 14 December). However, she is not correct to imply that the movement “differed dramatically” over alternatives to economic globalisation. There was a general consensus that to control finance and global corporations there needed to be a return to countries having the will and the ability to protect, nurture and rebuild their local economies. This would also entail the political control of such damaging corporate forces and a change in the end goal of trade and financial rules that have allowed big business and banks to prosper, while trashing local economies and the environment.
The twin towers and the wars on terror diverted attention from these priorities. Tackling the global economic crisis presents new opportunities for this “protect the local, globally” approach to solve the triple credit, climate and oil-supply crunches. An example of this is the Green New Deal proposal. This emphasises a massive £50bn-a-year local jobs and business programme to decarbonise the UK economy. It involves comprehensive measures to gut the power of finance and details a fairer global taxation system to fund such programmes in poorer countries. It is the latest step along the path that first received global coverage in Seattle. Indeed to compensate for the disaster of the last 10 years, the Green New Deal needs to become a key blueprint for campaigns and government policies in the 2010s.
Convener, Green New Deal Group
• Reading George Monbiot’s article (This is bigger than climate change. It is a battle to redefine humanity, 15 December), I felt a Freudian subconscious must have been at work. He managed to refer to “our crowded planet”, the human race being “hedged in” by the consequences of its own actions, that we are acting in “defiance of natural constraints”, that we are no longer able to “swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way”, and that “perpetual growth cannot be accommodated on a finite planet”. As if to ram home the point, he even concludes with a reference to “another great unmentionable”. Was he, I thought, going to join other leading environmentalists like Jonathan Porritt and David Attenborough, and agree that we should all be treating population growth as a serious issue? Alas, no. The particular “unmentionable” turned out to be the folly of searching for more oil at a time when we should be phasing out its use. The real unmentionable remains, in his world, just that.
Market Rasen, Lincolnshire
• George Monbiot again attempts to make the subliminal link between those who disagree with the consensus view on climate change and Holocaust deniers (Comment, 8 December). However, he fails to admit the real scandal of the leaked emails. As Karl Popper taught us, scepticism is a cardinal virtue, and this is particularly true in sciences that rely upon the interpretation of historical data and the output of theoretical models. In this respect climate science is similar to my own subject, financial economics, and there are important lessons to learn from the way that discipline has developed. In the 1970s the Chicago School dominated finance, and leading journals would not accept articles contradicting the rational expectations/market efficiency paradigm. Over the subsequent decades, counter-evidence and alternative theoretical explanations of market behaviour began the emerge at the margins of the discipline. Now, the contrary view has become so persuasive that the certainties of 40 years ago appear naive. However, the academic lockout put back the development of the subject for a generation.
My reading of this affair is that climate science, like finance in the 1970s, is at an immature stage of development. There are heavy consequences when scientists forget Popper’s dictum that good science seeks to refute, not confirm. With climate science the stakes are high, and so we need the very best of science. That is why I am on the side of the sceptics.
Emeritus Professor Bob Ryan
Nettleton Shrub, Wiltshire