How can the forthcoming assembly in Copenhagen (Comment, 27 November) possibly come to worthwhile agreements for slowing down climate change when any conceivable progress is bedevilled by blatant contradictions?
Take cars: world production of motor vehicles, around 72 million annually in normal times, has apparently fallen to about 60 million in this recession. From the climate change point of view, that should be a reason for rejoicing. But of course the car and oil industries, as well as tax-losing governments, have done all they can to reverse this reduction. Furthermore, there appears to be no intention anywhere to diminish the virtually universal need for private cars for all of life's normal activities: getting to work, to shops, to schools, to relations and friends, and often for holidays. This almost total dependence on cars is in the nature of an addiction, foreseeable many years ago.
So the recent discoveries of enormous additional oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere bring euphoria to the oil-and-motor complex but should increase anxiety for everybody else: has anyone calculated how much additional CO2 will be added to the atmosphere in the course of burning all this oil? How does the Copenhagen assembly propose to resolve this contradiction, which is just one of many? Without effective resolutions, the outlook is indeed very bad.