Why climate change is like hiring a movie

video store

"Seen it!"

Credit: every stock photo

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Have you ever been to a video store with more than three people? You’re trying to pick a movie to hire and there is always someone who has seen the nominated film. The larger your party, the harder it is to agree on which film to watch.

Imagine, then, trying to get the whole world to agree to watch the same film.

This is effectively what is happening with the U.N. climate change negotiations in Poland this week. Everyone who is a party to the discussions has a really good reason why the nominated carbon reduction targets are not right for them. Just when they get three countries to agree to targets, a fourth comes along and in essence says, "seen it."

Meanwhile, the world becomes hotter.

Green groups, including Greenpeace have urged governments to do something, and quickly.

Some experts are even arguing for the return of uncoventional geoengineering solutions, turned down by the U.N.'s IPCC last year.

Professor Tim Flannery has labelled Australia’s reluctance to take a world-leading position on greenhouse gas emissions as "suicidal", pointing out that such national icons as the Great Barrier Reef are under serious threat.

When selecting a film, the usual resolution is for someone to agree to see a film again. Usually one they enjoyed the first time. Obviously, climate change is far bigger issue than settling in with a video. But the resolution is still the same: someone - perhaps a few countries - will have to agree to targets they don’t like for the good of the rest of the world.