George Bush and John Howard did their best this week to try very hard to appear to be doing something about climate change at the APEC meeting in Sydney. With other pacific rim countries they declared some completely meaningless “voluntary, aspirational” goals for reducing emissions which is just polluting business as usual.

As Catherine puts it: "The Sydney Declaration is really just a Sydney distraction from real action on climate change"

The fact that Australian Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile then had the nerve to call the distraction “historic” would be almost as funny as this APEC security breach stunt (video) if it wasn’t a very determined effort by Australia and the US to derail the Kyoto process (Kyoto being the only international way to actually reduce emissions).

Back in the real world distractions like this means that the US is fiddling while species head to extinction.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre reported that this summer, the polar ice cap in the Arctic has shrunk by almost one million square kilometres below last year’s record melt.

And yesterday the US Geological Survey reported that with the current rate of melting, by 2050 two thirds of the 16,000 polar bear population will be gone. They will disappear along the north coasts of Alaska and Russia and lose 42 percent of the Arctic range they need to live in during summer in the Polar Basin when they hunt and breed. A polar bear’s life usually lasts about 30 years.

This is what the leaders DIDN’T talk about. This is the science behind the concern on global warming. This is why we need countries to commit to deep cuts in C02. We need atmospheric C02 levels to stabilise and start dropping within 10-15 years.

This is a real, worsening planetary emergency, and in the real world no one in charge should ever be allowed to get away with “aspiring” to address a life threatening emergency.