Two cities and two separate paths to the planet's future

There's only one planet for us all, at this point. Until migration to Mars or another solar system begins, we got this little piece of real estate.

There's only one planet for us all, at this point. Until migration to Mars or another solar system begins, we got this little piece of real estate. But the UN climate conference in Bali is clear indication that there is precious little agreement on what to do or how to do it.

Today an exasperated European Union official threatened to boycott an American-held climate conference set for next month. The E.U. has pushed for mandatory emission limits. The U.S. says NO, and it's backed by Japan, Canada and Australia.

The current Kyoto Protocol, never signed by the U.S. or China, expires in 2012. This conference in Bali was meant to set goals for the next global agreement running until 2020. Over ten thousand people travelled to this island in Indonesia for the conference. Kudos to this German reporter who covered his own carbon footprint getting to Bali.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, the American Senate looks ready to pass an energy bill that could get signed. Today the Senate leadership agreed to drop increased taxes on oil companies. That presumably will win enough votes to get this bill through the Senate and back to the House of Representatives. The bill still contains a raise in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks over the next 12 years. Nothing drastic: 35 MPG, which is the standard already in China. The EU currently is at 40 MPG but then they can be satisfied with those dinky little cars, like the Mercedes-built Smart Car. It's been available in much of the world for years but Mercedes didn't think Americans would drive a small, economical two-seater. It, BTW, is coming soon to sell-out crowds here in the U.S.

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