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After yet another climate conference (this time in Bangkok, ending earlier this month) in which world leaders failed to make any headway on the planet's most pressing problem, the prospect of a climate treaty in December, when 192 nations meet in Copenhagen, looks bleaker than an Arctic winter.
Then again, as Mother Jones contributing writer and author Bill McKibben writes in his most recent story, "Copenhagen: Too Hot to Handle," those Arctic winters might not be so bleak after all if our leaders leave climate change unchecked by failing to reach an agreement at Copenhagen. Indeed, the consequences of an unsuccessful Copenhagen conference, as McKibben describes, would be disastrous.
Already the planet is changing before our eyes as a result of climate change. Glaciers are melting at a rapid pace. Dengue fever is spreading to new regions. Drought could turn the American Southwest into a new dust bowl. Climate change even threatens to wipe entire nations, like the Maldives, off the map. Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives' bold new president, has even started setting aside part of his country's budget to buy a new homeland.
So needless to say, the stakes are high for December's climate conference. McKibben's piece—an absolute must-read for anyone with even the slightest interest in climate change—puts the looming negottiations into context, and offers a clear-eyed assessment about what we, and our leaders, need to do to make a treaty happen—and what we should expect if they don't.