FOR the first time since he became President eleven months ago, Barack Obama disappointed his audience in a major speech yesterday. At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference he had nothing new to say about America's position, having given the good news about the US's support for financial help for developing countries to cope with the impact of climate change between 2012 and 2020 to Hillary Clinton to announce on Thursday.

He appeared tired and a little out of sorts even hesitant at times. Perhaps he knew better than anyone the slim chances that remained of ending the Conference on a positive note. However, as always with his speeches, he made important points that need to be kept in mind in the future. He told the elegates: “You would not be here unless you -- like me -- were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction. It is science...The question before us is no longer the nature of the challenge -- the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, our ability to take collective actions hangs in the balance.”

The effort to establish the reality of global warming and climate change and to achieve international action to fight this threat has now lasted three decades. Although in two weeks Copenhagen may not have produced the important conclusion hoped for, it represents a further stage in understanding the extent of the problem and the complexity of its solution.


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