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Posted on Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Community High graduate attending climate change conference in South Africa

By Staff

Community High School graduate Katie O’Brien will be a member of the Sierra Student Coalition when she heads to Durban, South Africa, Friday through Dec. 9.

O'Brien, a 2011 graduate, will join eight classmates from College of the Atlantic as members of the COA delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Katie O'Brien

Courtesy photo

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, will bring together representatives of the world's governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December, according to its website.

“Durban comes at a critical time internationally,” O’Brien said in a statement. “The commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is running out and the lack of action of previous meetings in Copenhagen and Cancun are looming over the heads of the delegates. A more decisive action must be taken at Durban because we are running out of time. And, as youths, we are the people who will see the impacts of climate change in our lifetime. We must stand up and make our voices heard at an international level.”

She says she'll be using her time in Durban to make the issues of climate change at a global level more visible to other youth.

Along with most of COA’s delegation, O’Brien has been studying international environmental policy issues with Doreen Stabinsky, PhD, COA faculty member in international relations, according to a news release. The other students come from Northern Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Finland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

O'Brien said she hopes the meetings — made up of 193 countries — will help establish the Green Climate Fund, begun at last year’s meetings in Cancun, but still being negotiated. This would dedicate funds to help poorer nations deal with the impacts of climate change, such as the droughts that are drying up much of Africa, she said in the release.

“I am also hopeful that the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol could be fleshed out or some sort of legally-binding document effectively reducing our emissions, though this is less likely. I do see that youth involvement could help move things along and make an impact," she said.

View a blog from COA's delegation at



Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Sad to see how many are woefully misinformed about anthropogenic climate change. Yes, the global climate is warming. Yes, humans are causing most of the current warming trend by the emission of greenhouse gases. Please, if you are listening to political pundits or others who have no direct experience in climatology, I urge you to at least peruse the scientific literature.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

God ( or evolution) help us if these anti-climate -change nuts get into power via the 'teaparty" or an anarchist coup ( per "invisible empire"). Yes kiddies:climate change has always been a part of the earth's make-up.. So has extinction of species. But if one has more than 2-digit i.q. it makes sense to try to stave off the latter as long as possible by waking up to and addressing the modifiable ( if not totally reversable) effects of what we and our practices and overpopulation are doing to the climate and biosphere. I only hope these naysayers own some sea level real estate. Good luck and congrats to the young student.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

What we need is agreement on a few basic principles: 1) Climate change is a natural part of earth's history: we have always had climate change, are having it now, and will always have it in the future with or without man on the planet. 2) There is no scientific evidence (a testable hypothesis with real experimental data) for human-caused climate change. What we have is limited statistical inference that there could be a relationship between human-generated CO2 emissions and climate, but an inference is not proof. 3) The amount of money that would have to be spent to achieve even the smallest measurable impact on CO2 concentration in earth's atmosphere is unrealistic given all the needs we see among earth's people today: clean water, sanitation, education, malaria, etc. 4) We can do more for people directly and the planet indirectly by focusing resources on the other needs in (3) than by a single-minded focus on CO2. Actions that help people live healthier, better educated, and more productive lives tend to reduce waste, inefficiency, and rapid population growth. 5) To be more efficient users of resources and have less impact on the earth generally requires more engineers, scientists, and health care professionals. It also requires far fewer policy wonks, hangers on, and narrow advocacy groups. I respectfully suggest to Ms. O'Brien that she encourage her youth contingent to go to college and study something useful that can help them address the real issues of life on earth rather than the silliness of the assumed evils of anthropogenic CO2-caused "global warming/climate change".


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

Man made climate change is just part of UN Adgenda 21 and L21. The green climate fund is a global tax plan to take from some countries and give to other countries. If the agenda was anything other than a tax plan, why are India and China(worlds biggest CO2 emitter) exempt from all co2 restrain ideas while western nations are restrained? If you cut CO2 emissions in 1/2 the possible change in global temps is .4 c.

Superior Twp voter

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 5:32 a.m.

Way to push that liberal agenda, Ann Arbor. Global warming = total bunk.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

Good for her, she is changing the world and making us all better human's. She is an inspiration and a courageous person and we owe her just as much thanks as any military person. Thank you Katie for saving our race and the polar bears from the global warming.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

We should let the polar bears loose on lefties. That might change their views.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

I agreed with you right up to your comment "we owe her just as much thanks as any military person" I couldn't disagree with you more. Attending a confrence is nothing like being in the military. YOU should thank the military for allowing her the freedom to move around the world at will, To attend school, to sleep safe with out fear. Absolutley no comparison really an ubsurd comparision.


Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

Dear Katie, Way to go! Here is some helpful info for you to use and share: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Keep up the good work

Basic Bob

Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 10:56 p.m.

Think how many forests we'll need to save to offset the burning of jet fuel for conference attendees.

Basic Bob

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

@Billy Bob Schwartz, Burning jet fuel creates greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) that the forests absorb. I'm sure the whole *carbon offset* strategy will be discussed at the convention in great detail.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

Is jet fuel made from trees? I want a job on an intercontinental flight chopping wood. Sounds like fun.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 11:41 p.m.

It is rather counter-productive, isn't it? Cyber-conferencing would more responsible.