Why is the sky always dark and covered with clouds? Where is the sun hiding?*

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Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa

Almost every morning over recent weeks now, the sky is covered under a cloak of menacingly dark clouds which, once in a while they’d unleash those cascading buckets of pouring rain, so that for quite sometime there you begin to wonder if the sun would remain forever hidden, behind those dark, menacing clouds.

And so in frustration you may ask: What’s going on here? Why are the clouds covering the sky all the time? And where is the sun? Is the world doomed to never again see the sunlight?   

In any case, the answers to those questions are found in the story about an important event in which our government played a very crucial part, which is why we should all be familiar with it. 

The event in question took place in the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto; that was where in December 1997, leaders from the world community gathered and put together an international convention, which they tentatively called, The Kyoto Protocol.

An instrument aimed at reducing global warming as a result of the uncontrollable production and proliferation of greenhouse gas emissions, later the Kyoto Protocol was adopted.

And from there, the Protocol called for worldwide cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to prevent further warming of the earth, melting of the polar ice caps, and flooding of low lying islands such as those scattered around the Pacific Ocean, one of which is Samoa.

At that point, a total of 159 countries had ratified the convention and were given until March 1999, to sign the protocol.

Samoa did not wait. 

On 17 March 1998, it signed the protocol.

Reported Radio Australia: “Samoa is among the first countries to have signed the Kyoto protocol on climate change.”

“The United Nations says the Maldives, Antigua and Barbuda also have signed.”

Sometime later, a total of 192 countries had signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, “the 1997 treaty that’s the closest thing we have to a working global agreement to fight climate change.”

And yet, also around that time, “the only nations that had not signed the ratified Kyoto Protocol were Afghanistan, Sudan and the USA.”

At the time, it had been established that the United States of America was emitting 35% of the world’s greenhouse gases - a significant amount of emissions that, according to the Annex I of the Kyoto Protocol, was contributing directly towards the rising warming of the planet.

The question then was: Why did the USA refrain from signing the treaty?  

A numbers of reasons were made public. 

One of which was that, President William J. Clinton, had signed the Kyoto Protocol, but he did not ratify it.

Why? It had not been made clear.

Later, when President G.W. Bush came along, he eliminated Clinton’s signature completely. 

Bush said “his specific complaints about the Kyoto Treaty include, a serious harm to the U.S. economy,” which would cause a “more dramatic shift from coal to natural gas for electric power generation.” 

He also said: “Coal generates more than half of America’s electricity supply,” and therefore “my main reason for pulling out is the economic impact it would have on the United States, if they were to reduce emissions, especially on the coal industry.”

And so the question emerged: How is the coal industry in America going to be affected if he had gone ahead and ratified the Kyoto Protocol?

Answer: By a significantly paralyzing degree he did not want to talk about.

The point is that “carbon dioxide is produced when coal, or other fossil fuels are burned, or combusted. Fossil fuel combustion is a process that most industry in the United States used to produce energy. 

The story said: “Fossil fuel combustion accounts for the majority of carbon dioxide emissions. So, if American industries were to cut down on fossil fuel combustion that would mean a sharp decrease in the need for coal. 

“The coal industry would suffer greatly as millions would lose their jobs. Because 51% of American electricity is powered by coal, and electricity provides heat, price of heating would skyrocket and so would electricity bills.” 

And this, according to President Bush, was the sort of economic disaster he would indeed want to avoid.

Another complaint President Bush made was that there was a “lack of commercially available technologies for removing and storing carbon dioxide.”

He said the existence of an “incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the causes of, and solutions to, global climate change” simply had to be looked into, before any commitment to ratify the protocol would be made.  

In addition, Bush said: “There is not a concrete and fundamental basis to sign the Kyoto Treaty due to the lack of proof of global warming.”  

Lack of proof of global warming? 

Isn’t the sky remaining dark all day long, and the sun never showing up, proof enough that global warming is alive and well on this side of the world, and therefore a threat to be wary of?

 Indeed, aren’t people living on their small islands tottering on the waves of the South Pacific victims of global warming, and then when the huge waves come along and flatten their homes so that they sink in the ocean, isn’t that proof enough?

What about Donald Trump? 

What would he say about the Kyoto Protocol anyway? 

Sure, he’s been President of the United States of America for just a lousy 100 days, and yet during that short period of time he’s made he’s already stamped his mark bold and clear, around the entire world.

Indeed, the man has already announced he was going to build a wall around Mexico, and then he would call that part of the American Continent, Little America, and throw Mexico to the background, where it should have always been.

So what is to stop him from taking over the Kyoto Protocol, and then after he’d renamed it Donald Trump World Protocol, who is to stop him from just throwing it in the draw, and let it just lie there.

After all, that’s the kind of man he is; indeed, he is that loveable scoundrel we all want to meet and shake hands with, one of these days. 

You never know. The man is such a complex enigma and an adorable rogue at the same time, it’s a wonder he’d not yet been named, the President of the World.

We never know. 

He could be just the man who could tell us why the sky is always dark and covered with clouds, and where the sun is hiding, during times like now.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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