Nov 27, 2005 10:19pm

There is a big, big environmental meeting starting in Montreal today.  It’s a followup to the Kyoto treaty on climate change. 10,000 representatives from 140 countries, all together to get something going. They’ll argue at length in public sessions, they’ll meet in private afterwards, they’ll bargain late into the night, and in the end, probably, not get anything much done.

You’ll recall that the U.S. is one country that has not signed on to the Kyoto protocol, which would call on countries to reduce their output of industrial gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.  The Clinton White House knew better than to try bringing it to a vote in the Senate; the Bush administration declared it a dead letter shortly after arriving in office.  Even many backers of the treaty granted there was a big hole in it–less industrialized countries, such as China and India, could cheerfully burn more and more coal and oil, while the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia, etc., would face the expensive proposition of altering their economies to slow the warming of the atmosphere.

Is there warming going on?  Well–and you hardly heard it here first–yes.  On Friday the journal SCIENCE published yet another paper, from a team of scientists who analyzed air bubbles trapped in the ice of Antarctica, and found there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any time in the last 650,000 years. 

"The results confirm that the modern atmosphere is highly anomalous and reinforce the view that greenhouse gases and climate are intimately related," wrote Edward J. Brook of Oregon State University. 

If you want to argue over whether to blame anyone, and what needs to be done, have at it.  The one thing I’ll throw into the pot is that we’ve been here before, time and again.  The Montreal meeting is the eleventh in an annual series by the "Conference of the Parties" to the Kyoto agreement, and there were a million meetings before that.  The issue is almost designed for stalemate. 


"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping." 

That’s from a bumper sticker I saw years ago. Today is billed as the beginning of the Christmas season for online shopping, and the theme du jour is that if you’re worried about using a credit card online, stop.  You’re more likely to lose your wallet in a mall than you are to fall prey to identity theft.

This comes from a group called Javelin Strategy Research, which says that among people who have been victims of identity fraud–and think they know how it happened–12 percent say it happened online, while 68 percent say they physically lost a credit card, wallet or checkbook.

Gary Langer, who heads our polling unit, adds some context.  He says to remember that almost half of those who say their identity was stolen have no idea what happened to them.  What’s more, we’re still at a point where 54 percent of the American public, in the latest data he has, has never bought anything online. 

"Good Morning America" has posted some useful info HERE.


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