Anyone who cares about the survival of our planet should start praying that Barack Obama gets his way on reforming US healthcare. That probably sounds hyperbolic, if not mildly deranged: even those who are adamant that 45 million uninsured Americans deserve basic medical cover would not claim that the future of the earth depends on it. But think again.
Next week, world leaders will attend the first UN summit dedicated entirely to climate change. Their aim will be to plunge a shot of adrenaline into stuttering efforts to draw up a new global agreement on carbon emissions. The plan is to replace the Kyoto treaty with a new one, to be agreed in Copenhagen in December. Trouble is, the prospects of getting a deal worthy of the name get bleaker every day.
Few deny that the world needs a new agreement. In the 12 years since Kyoto, we've emitted a whole lot more carbon – and gained a whole lot more knowledge of its dangers. The science is now clear that if we do not manage to keep the increase in the earth's temperature below 2C, we risk facing the effects of catastrophic climate change – with all the flooding, drought, mass migration and human suffering that it would entail. The experts tell us that the only way to stay below that 2C limit is for global emissions to peak in 2015 – and then start falling. In other words, we have set ourselves up at a nice corner table in the last chance saloon.
Freedland reminds me of the character Dr. Smith, from the 1960s sitcom "Lost in Space.
Smith: "I am a Doctor of Intergalactic Environmental Psychology"
Robot: "You are a quack"