Human beings have to learn how to cooperate with the natural world

While the frightening spectre of unchecked man-made climate change havoc and the very real chaos to world-wide aviation caused by an erupting volcano in Iceland are clearly unrelated, both events share one common characteristic.

The power of the natural world, so often taken for granted by human development in the past 150 years, is still a force to be reckoned with.

Indeed, the New York Times is reporting that recent economic damage caused by ash from Eyjafjallajokullas that has covered much of Europe and closed down air travel is costing airlines alone an estimated $200 million a day.

Social and business costs associated with separated families, missed appointments, postponed meetings and reduced food supplies will add to the toll. The falling ash could also create considerable health problems, especially for those with already compromised breathing abilities.

Ironically, news of nature’s fury caused by the erupting volcano came less than a week after the first 2010 sessions of the UN climate change negotiations ended in Bohn and at the same time that China reportedly promised to aggressively promote a greener economy by investing in research and development projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Bloomberg noted that the Chinese president’s special envoy Xie Zhenhua wrote in the China Economic Herald that tougher laws are needed to meet climate targets because global warming threatens the nation’s economic development.

“The scale of economic destruction would be equivalent to that of the two world wars and the Great Depression combined” if global temperatures rise by 3 degrees to 4 degrees Celsius, Bloomberg reported Xie said. “Human beings and the Earth cannot afford such disasters.”

Xie’s bold warning will provide those able to circumnavigate their way around a massive cloud of volcanic ash to attend this week’s European Wind Energy Conference event in Warsaw an opportunity to ponder the imponderable: when, will politicians agree on a new legally-binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels?

 By Chris Rose, AWEA,