We are very late in coming to the climate fight, Bellona tells heavy-hitting New York debate

Annicken Vargel/Bellona

Publish date: April 29, 2010

Written by: Annicken Vargel

Translated by: Charles Digges

NEW YORK – As part of his week-long swing through Washington and New York, Bellona President Frederic Hauge spoke at a debate packed with heavy hitters hosted by the Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York on the topic of fighting climate change.

Hauge took the floor with an unalterable fact: Two thirds of the world’s population needs more energy.

“And we are absolutely going to have to explore negative value chains, for we are very, very late in the fight against global warming, Hauge said.

Big time panel

Hauge sat in the panel along with NASA scientist James Hansen, Author  Jostein Gaarder, Professor Bjorn Lomborg, Author and New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin, Cynthia Rosenzweig of New York City Panel on Climate Change and Bill McKibben, who is the author of several books on climate change.

Discussion grew particularly heated between Hauge and Lomborg, who were meeting each other in a debate format for the first time.

Hauge argued, among other things, that solutions to the climate crisis are already available and only need to be adopted, while Lomborg countered that investment must first be put toward research. In addition, Lomborg said that people need a more neutral, and according to him, more truthful climate information as opposed to what he called apocalyptic scare tactics.

When McKibben took the floor, he said, that, “People have not been skeptical about global warming because of the apocalyptic representations, but because the coal industry uses billions of dollars to do just that to people.”

Responsibility for the next generation

Jostein Gaarder took the evening’s moral philosophical approach, and said that people must not only look after their fellows with whom they share the planet, but also look after those to come in future generations.

“You should do the next generation of what you wish they would do for you,” Gaarder said.  “Our own time is the most important thing for us, but we cannot live as though it is also important for those who come after us,” he said.

The world-renowned magazine, the New York Review of Books and the organisation Freedom of Expression co-organized the debate, which was one of five major meetings at the festival.

The festival was started by former PEN President Salman Rushdie, and has since 2005 established itself as one of the leading international literature festivals, with a large number of Nobel Prize laureates and other famous writers on the roster.

A recording from the debate will be posted onPen Club’s website on Friday.