Friday, December 18, 2009

US Dairy "Sustainability Plan"

This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced a joint agreement to support a U.S. dairy industry goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% over 20 years. Unfortunately, the dairy industry's idea of sustainability through mitigation inhibits the real process changes needed to combat climate change and the creation of a truly sustainable food system.

The real way to combat climate change in dairy is by reducing dairy consumption (and therefore, production) and by producing dairy from cows raised on pasture, two things the industry is far from considering.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy (ICUSD) was created in 2008 to foster industry-wide pre-competitive collaboration and innovation in strategies designed to increase sales of milk and milk products. One of the founding organizations of the ICUSD is Dairy Management Inc™, which manages the national dairy check-off program.

From an industry perspective, the "sustainability" focus is on CO2 emissions, largely in response to anticipated government regulation. Further, the approach is how to extract value and utilize opportunities to leverage demand. Much of the results from lifecycle analysis (LCA) conducted by land grant universities, show the largest reduction potential in the production phase of the dairy value-chain. Consequently, their strategy for sustainability is targeting nutrition management of cows (changing ratio of corn and protein feed) and the utilization of methane digesters to mitigate methane from manure lagoons.

Research presented on the Measurement of GHG Emissions from Dairy Farms at the Climate Change Research Conference by Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Air Quality CE Specialist Animal Science at UC Davis, had some interesting findings:
  • The main dairy GHG source is cows, rather than waste.
  • The CO2 emissions from cow respiration cannot be mitigated without reducing herd size.
  • The leading methane contributor is enteric fermentation from cows eating corn instead of their natural fodder, grass.
  • The leading nitrous oxide contributor is land application of manure and fertilizer for growing feed (corn).
  • Nitrous oxide has almost 15 times more the global warming potential as methane.
That scientific perspective, emphasizing smaller herd sizes and the value of grass, is overlooked in much industry communication. Industry communication instead boasts of past efficiency gains and promotes increased milk consumption for good nutrition.

The most cited piece of literature by industry dairy sustainability initiatives is from Dr. Jude Capper currently at Washington State University. “The Environmental Impact of Dairy Production: 1944 compared with 2007” published in The Journal of Animal Science found that the carbon footprint per billion kg of milk produced in 2007 was 37% of the equivalent milk production in 1944. It concludes:

"Contrary to the negative image often associated with “factory farms”, fulfilling the U.S. population’s requirement for dairy products while improving environmental stewardship can only be achieved by using modern agricultural techniques. The immediate challenge for the dairy industry is to actively communicate…the considerable potential for environmental mitigation yet to be gained through use of modern dairy production systems."

Jill Richardson at La Vida Locavore recently criticized Capper's research in her post "Junk Science Study Says Factory Farming is Better" for including Roger Cady, former Sustainability Lead Monsanto and now works for Elanco (the former and current owners of rBGH), on the team of researchers. Cady was criticized by Tom Phillpot at Grist for conflict of interest in research extolling the environmental benefits of rBGH.

Capper’s twitter name is “Lactolobbyist” and she describes herself as a “dairy scientist passionately spreading the word about reducing environmental impact through improved productive efficiency and use of biotechnology.”

The other most cited resource in the milk industry's sustainability literature is the USDA's 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends consumption of 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. According to Open Secrets, the dairy industry spent $3.3 million on federal lobbying in 2006, with Dean Foods, the National Milk Producers Federation and the Dairy Foods Association topping the list of spenders. The Dietary Guideline Advisory committee in 2005 was heavily criticized for its ties to dairy.

Ironically, the ICUSD primer reveals two important pillars of sustainable agriculture: the importance of place and scale:
“Today, in many states where climate is conducive, roughly 50% of producers use pastures to meet some fraction of their herds’ dietary needs. Of these producers roughly half practice continuous grazing which, compared to intensive grazing, is a less efficient method of providing forage and of sequestering carbon.”
They note: “generally this includes dairies in the Midwest, Southeast, and New England regions. although the amount of a herd’s dietary needs that can be met by pasturage varies by climate, management practices, and site-specific constraints.”

But, this discussion of pasturing and Midwestern production overlooks the dairy industry's real home base -- industrial production in California and other places with water shortages. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, California ranks #1 in the U.S. in total dairy cows (1.7 million cows on 2,030 dairies) and #1 in total milk production (21% of U.S. milk supply). The average herd size is 850 milking cows, with 46 percent of all dairies over 500 head.

These cows are not raised on pasture. They are raised on dairy freestall and drylot housing (concrete) in Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley with 1,685,257 of their closest friends. Tulare County and five counties in the central valley account for 49% of the total milk production in California. Tulare County alone accounts for 25% of California’s total milk production and has an average herd size of 1,300 head.

And they drink a lot of water (in the desert) - 20-50 gallons a day and create a lot of waste - approximately 120 pounds, or 14.475 gallons of manure a day per cow.

Even with mitigation with methane digesters, the industry is off the mark towards sustainability. A real commitment comes from decreasing consumption of dairy and producing milk in the way it was intended, through cows on pasture. Seems like nature's own supply and demand curve. Until we have the dairy industry's commitment to these tenets, I am not convinced that sustainability in dairy is possible.

From the ICUSD site:
"Ideally the dairy industry will chart our own course in sustainability." -Jed Davis, Cabot Creamery

Mitigation, Transparency, Financing

President Obama calls for action at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.


Good morning

It is an honor for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from the nations around the world. We come here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. All of you would not be here unless you, like me, were convinced that this danger is real.

This is not fiction, it is science.

Unchecked , climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies and our planet. This much we know. The question then before us is no longer the nature of the challenge. The question is our capacity to meet it.

For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, I have to be honest as the world watches us today, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now and it hangs in the balance. I believe we can act boldly and decisively in the face of a common threat.

That's why I come here today. Not to talk, but to act.


Now as the world's largest economy and as the world's second largest emitter, America bears our responsibility to address climate change. And we intend to meet that responsibility.

That's why we renewed our leadership within international climate change negotiations. That's why we've worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuels subsidies. That's why we've taken bold action at home by making historic investments in renewable energy by putting our people to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings, by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy economy.

These mitigation actions are ambitious and we are taking them not simply to meet global responsibilities. We are convinced, as some of you may be convinced, that changing the way that we produce and consume energy is essential to America's economic future. That it will create millions of new jobs, power new industries, keep us competitive and spark new innovation.

We're convinced, for our own self interests, that the way we use energy changing it to a more efficient fashion is essential to our national security because it helps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and helps us deal with some of the dangers posed by climate change. So I want this plenary session to understand, America is going to continue on this course of action to mitigate our emissions and to move to a clean energy economy no matter what happens here in Copenhagen.

We think it is good for us as well as good for the world. But we also believe we will all be stronger, all be safer, all be more secure if we act together. That's why it is in our mutual interests to achieve a global accord in which we agree to certain steps and hold each other accountable to certain commitments.

After months of talks, after two weeks of negotiations, after innumerable side meetings, bilateral meetings, endless hours of discussion among the negotiators, I believe the pieces of that accord should now be clear.

First, all major economies much put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions and begin to turn the corner on climate change. I'm pleased that many of us have already done so. Almost all of the major economies have put forward legitimate targets, significant targets, ambitious targets. And I'm confident that America will fulfill the commitment that we have made. Cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020 and by more 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation.

Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments and exchange this information in a transparent manner. These measures need not be intrusive or infringe upon sovereignty. They must insure that an accord is credible and that we're living up to our mutual obligations. Without such accountability any agreement would be empty words on a page.

I don't know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and ensuring that we are meeting our commitments. That doesn't make sense. It would be a hollow victory.

Number three. We must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least developed and most vulnerable countries to climate change.

America will be part of a fast start funding that will ramp up to ten billion dollars by 2012. And yesterday, Secretary Hillary Clinton, my Secretary of State made it clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize 100 billion dollars in financing by 2020. If, and only if, it is part of a broader accord that I've just described. Mitigation, transparency, financing. It's a clear formula once that embraces the principle of common, but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord. One that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an international community.

I just want to say to this plenary session that we are running short on time.

And at this point the question is "will we move forward together or split apart"? Whether we prefer posturing to actio . I'm sure that many consider this an imperfect framework that I just described.

No country will get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached and no obligations with respect to transparency. They think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price. I understand that. There are those advanced nations who think that developing countries either cannot absorb this assistance or that will not be held accountable effectively. And that the world's fastest growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.

We know the fault lines because we've been imprisoned by them for years. These international discussions have essentially taken place now for almost two decades. And we have very little to show for it other than an increase, acceleration, of the climate change phenomena.

The time for talk is over. This is the bottom line. We can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that and everyone who is in this room will be part an historic endeavor. One that makes life better for our children and our grandchildren or we can choose delay. Falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments, month after month, year after year, perhaps decade after decade, all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no time to waste. America's made our choice. We have chartered our course. We have made our commitments. We will do what we say. Now I believe it's the time for the nations and the people of the world to come together behind a common purpose.

We are ready to get this done today. But there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that it is better for us to act than to talk. It's better for us to choose action over inaction, the future over the past and with courage and faith I believe we can meet our responsibilities to our people and the future of our planet. Thank you very much. (applause)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What You Can Do to End Corporate Concentration in the Food System! | US Working Group on the Food Crisis

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), will hold a series of public hearings around the country on anti-trust violations, i.e. corporate dominance, in food and agriculture, beginning in March. Numerous topics are being addressed, and they are encouraging members of the public to submit comments based on either personal experience, technical expertise, or even general concern about the dangers and problems of corporate dominance in the food system.

Before December 31st, send a letter to the US Department of Justice telling them about your experience of corporate concentration in the food system! Visit our pages on sample letters and letter ideas to get started.

Here are some themes to inspire your own thoughts. Take a look and then head here for some sample letters and an easy template to write your own! To learn more about the issue, check out our resources here.

• It's harder and harder to find healthy, locally produced foods in your community -- especially if you live in a low-income area, there might not be a supermarket for miles.

• Prices are rising at the supermarket, but you've heard that farmers are struggling -- and big food companies have made record profits this year.

• You feel like you don't have much choice about the food you eat -- maybe the produce selection is bad, or you don't like that everything seems to be made with corn products.

• It's hard for small food producers and processors to find markets for their products -- and it's hard for consumers to find products made by small producers.

Food seems less safe. You've read that the outbreak and spread of bacteria like E. coli happens much faster when meat and vegetables are processed in big centralized locations.

Local farms are going out of business, because small farmers can't compete with prices set by industrial farms and consolidated buyers.

There aren't many decent jobs in food and farming anymore -- there's a real lack of opportunities for both urban and rural youth who are interested in growing and preparing food.

What's in your food, anyway? And why aren't there decent labels telling you where it grew, what chemicals are on it, and if it's genetically modified?

• There is a "revolving door" of personnel between corporate lobbyists and government regulators. No wonder corporations aren't held to strict standards.

• Many rural communities have become ghost towns. The farmers that have survived often find themselves entirely at the mercy of corporations who own all parts of the supply chain (called "vertical integration") and can set prices in such a way to drive competitors out of business.

Just one company controls the majority of seeds in the US, and regularly threatens farmers who don't buy its seeds.

• Cows, chickens, and pigs are being raised in squalid conditions on huge industrial feedlots and pumped full of unnecessary antibiotics, which is unhealthy for them and potentially unsafe for the people eating them.

The food you can afford is bad for you; healthy food is expensive.

• Food is grown and raised in ways that are terrible for the environment, with methods that pollute the water, poison the soil, and threaten our long-term food security.

• A lot of food from the store just doesn't taste very good, which raises questions about where it’s come from and how it’s been treated.

Mad yet? Head here for an easy template for you to tell the Justice Department about your own experience. The Justice Department is specifically seeking comments and stories about how corporate control of the food system affects average citizens. Your comments will help to inform a series of hearings on the issue next year.

Your voice really matters.

To learn more about corporate consolidation in the food system, check out the resources here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pouring on the Pounds

I just saw this video from NYC Health Department called "Pouring on the Pounds."

What do we think about this?

Pouring on the pounds

From the press release:

Last summer, the Health Department asked New Yorkers a bold question: Are you pouring on the pounds? The question – accompanied by an eye-catching image of a soft drink turning to blubber as it gushes into a tumbler – has appeared on subway posters, educational brochures and websites since the campaign started in August. Now comes the sequel – a cheeky Internet video that uses similar imagery to show how the empty calories in sugary beverages can add up. Over the course of a year, drinking one soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter, fostering obesity and contributing to health problems such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease.

Drinking fat

“Sugary drinks shouldn’t be a part of our everyday diets,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “This video is playful, but its message is serious. Sugar-sweetened beverages are fueling the obesity epidemic, and obesity is disabling millions of New Yorkers. If this campaign shifts habits even slightly, it could have real health benefits.”

The new video can be seen at The Health Department is also posting it on YouTube – – in the hope that people will share it with friends and relatives.

Americans now consume an average of 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 30 years ago. Nearly half of that increase comes from sugar-sweetened drinks which can pack as many as 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single 20-ounce bottle. The Health Department’s 2007 Community Health Survey found that more than 2 million New Yorkers drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage each day – adding as much as 250 empty calories to their diets.

I would say, since governments are charged with footing the bill for health (ultimately), that they should have a role. If they aren't going to regulate the food industry's advertising, they are going to come out with campaigns that are equally compelling.

This is disgusting, but may very well be effective.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Why we left our farms to come to Copenhagen"

RP of Jill Richardson from La Vida Locavore-

Copenhagen starts today and it seems like everyone except for me is there. A number of small farmers from around the world have come to Copenhagen to represent their interests. Below is a speech by Henry Saragih of Via Campesina, on why they left their farms to come to Copenhagen.
Speech of Henry Saragih, general coordinator of Via Campesina
Opening of Klimaforum - Copenhagen Dec 7

Tonight is a very special night for us to get together here for the opening of the assembly of the social movements and civil society at the Klimaforum. We, the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, are coming to Copenhagen from all five corners of the world, leaving our farmland, our animals, our forest, and also our families in the hamlets and villages to join you all.

Why is it so important for us to come this far? There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, we would like to tell you that climate change is already seriously impacting us. It brings floods, droughts and the outbreak of pests that are all causing harvest failures. I must point out that these harvest failures are something that the farmers did not create. Instead, it is the polluters who caused the emissions who destroy the natural cycles. So, we small scale farmers came here to say that we will not pay for their mistakes. And we are asking the emitters to face up to their responsibilities.

Secondly, I would like to share with you some facts about who the emitters of green house gases in agriculture really are: new data that has come out clearly shows that industrial agriculture and the globalized food system are responsible of between 44 and 57% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure can be broken down as follows (i) Agricultural activities are responsible for 11 to 15%, (ii) Land clearing and deforestation cause an additional 15 to 18%, (iii) Food processing, packing and transportation cause 15 to 20%, and (iv) Decomposition of organic waste causes another 3 to 4%. It means that our current food system is a major polluter.

The question we have to answer now is: how do we solve the climate chaos, hunger and assure a better livelihood for farmers, when the agricultural sector itself is contributing more than half of the total emissions? We believe that it is the industrial and agribusiness model of agriculture that is at the root of the problem, because those percentages that I mentioned earlier come from the deforestation and the conversion of natural forests into monoculture plantations, all of which is being carried out by Agribusiness Corporations. Not by familly farmers. Such large emissions of methane by agriculture are also due to the use of urea as a petrochemical fertilizer through the green revolution, very much supported by the World Bank. At the same time, agricultural trade liberalization promoted by free trade agreements (FTA) and by the World Trade Organization (WTO) is contributing to the greenhouse gases emissions due to food processing and food transportation around the world.

If we genuinely want to tackle the climate change crisis, the only way we have to go forward is to stop industrial agriculture. Agribusiness has not only highly contributed to the climate crisis, it has also massacred the small farmers of the world. Millions of farmers , men and women from around the world, have been kicked off their land. Millions of others suffer violence every year because of land conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Small farmers and landless farmers make up the majority of the more than 1 billion hungry people in the world. And because of free trade, many small farmers commit suicide in South Asia. So putting an end to industrial agriculture is the only way we can go.

Will the current climate negotiations, that are relying on carbon trade mechanisms, bring solutions to climate change? To this we say that carbon trade mechanisms will only serve polluting countries and companies, and bring disaster to small farmers and indigenous peoples in developing countries. The REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) has already kicked off their land many indigenous peoples and small farmers in developing countries. And more and more agricultural land is being converted into tree plantations in order to attract carbon credits.

At COP 13 in Bali 2007, La Via Campesina proposed the landless farmers' and small farmers' solution to climate change, which is: "small scale sustainable farmers are cooling down the earth". And here, at COP 15, again we bring that proposal, backing it with the figures that prove that it could reduce more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure comes from: (I) Recuperating organic matter in the soil would reduce emissions by 20 to 35%. (ii) Reversing the concentration of meat production in factory farms and reintegrating joint animal and crop production would reduce them by 5 to 9% (iii) Putting local markets and fresh food back at the center of the food system would reduce a further 10 to 12%. (iv) Halting land clearing and deforestation would stop 15 to 18% of emissions. In short, by taking agriculture away from the big agribusiness corporations and putting it back into the hands of small farmers, we can reduce half of the global emissions of greenhouse gases. This is what we propose, and we call it Food Sovereignty.

And to achieve that we need social movements to work together and struggle together to put an end to the current false solutions that are today on the table at the climate negotiations. This is a must, otherwise we will face an even bigger tragedy worldwide. We, as social movements, have to bring our own agenda onto the table, because we are the first climate victims and climate refugees and therefore climate justice is in our hands.

At the FAO Food Summit in 1996, governments committed themselves to reduce hunger by half by 2015. The reality is that the number of hungry people has recently increased dramatically. We do not want the same thing to happen with the climate talks and see the emissions increase even further regardless of what the governments negotiate within the UNFCCC.

We invite all the movements present in Copenhagen to join together to bring climate justice to the table. Climate justice will only be achieved through solidarity and social justice.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Story of Cap and Trade

The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you’ve heard about cap and trade, but aren’t sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you.

See it here:

The Story of Cap and Trade

'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation'

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay."

At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.

Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world's biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.

Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of "exported emissions" so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than "old Europe", must not suffer more than their richer partners.

The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.

Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.

Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature".

It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.

This editorial will be published tomorrow by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. The text was drafted by a Guardian team during more than a month of consultations with editors from more than 20 of the papers involved. Like the Guardian most of the newspapers have taken the unusual step of featuring the editorial on their front page.