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(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Martin)

There is no shortage of irony in Copenhagen this month.

While Copenhagen and climate change are crowding the headlines at the moment, Monday Reads is breaking ranks to bring you news of a lighter—but we hope just as interesting—variety. Tool-use was once thought to be the exclusive realm of humans, but one by one other species have been added to the club—and now we welcome the octopi.

Researchers from Australia’s Museum Victoria observed the veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) digging up coconut shells from the ocean floor, specifically to use as a protective cover. Not wanting to be left empty suckered when they needed to hide and there was not a shell to be found, the octopus jauntily scamper around with oversized shells in tow. See for yourself (fast forward to 0:50 for the goods; stay until 2:05 to experience the sensation of being enveloped by an octopus):

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 14, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: As we head into the conference's final week, The New York Times gives a quick review of what's happened so far, what to expect over the next few days, the real issues at stake, and who are the key players.

Climate change negotiations came to a sudden halt today as a bloc of developing nations led by China withdrew in protest of what they called the Danish government's tilt toward the interests of developing countries. <Update>: Talks have resumed, according to reports.

Mayors from around the world are holding their own climate conference in Copenhagen, based on the premise that since cities produce two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions they should be on the front line of controlling them. <Update>: California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak at the mayor's conference tomorrow to push his theme that local government action is essential for planetary success.

CO2 is the bogeyman in Copenhagen for good reason—it accounts for half of global warming. But how about that other half? wonders The Los Angeles Times. We're talking about methane, black carbon (soot) and other emissions that could be reined in more easily, more quickly, and at much less cost than carbon dioxide.

<Update>: For a mix of reports from environmental journalists, check out the "Copenhagen News Collaborative" reports. The collaborative comprises Mother Jones, Grist, The Nation, Treehugger, The Uptake, ForaTV, Pulitzer Center, Discover, and OnEarth. 

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Martin)

What makes these negotiations so important, of course, is that human activities are changing our planet's systems of self-regulation. Global warming pollution from human activities is altering those systems faster than many ecosystems and species—including humans—can keep up with.

In recognition of this, a number of countries, led by Bolivia, are advocating for the final Copenhagen agreement to "take into account not only the right of human beings, but also the right of Mother Earth and its natural beings."

When countries object to proposals in the formal negotiations, they do so by insisting that the problematic proposal be surrounded by brackets in the formal negotiating documents. The brackets indicate that the proposal is not a consensus position, and thus remains subject to further discussion. In negotiations late last night, the United States and a number of other developed countries insisted that any reference to the rights of the earth be bracketed.

Given what is at stake here, it is frightening to think that Mother Earth might remain in brackets.

 

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 12, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

It may seem contradictory, but business interests are among the strongest supporters of climate change action in Copenhagen, reports The Los Angeles Times. The growing international market in alternative energy will really boom if nations turn away from fossil fuels.

Thousands of people and hundreds of organizations across the planet participated today in "Global Day of Climate Action," but Copenhagen is where the real action happened, where some 1,000 protesters were arrested.

I was in a plenary session of the Copenhagen climate meeting this morning, when Ian Fry, the representative of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu made an impassioned statement to the assembled government representatives.

He noted that nearly everyone in Tuvalu lives less than 7 feet above sea level, which puts them at risk of rising sea levels and increased storm intensity. He called for governments to adopt a legally binding agreement to cut carbon emissions, and expressed his frustration that "[i]t appears we are waiting for some senators in the US Congress to conclude before we can determine what will happen to the rest of the world."

On the verge of tears, he concluded by saying, "I woke up this morning and I was crying, which is not easy for a grown man to admit. Madame President,…the fate of my country is in your hands."

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Erika).

The Copenhagen talks opened with nightmare images of catastrophic climate crisis. The first session included an apocalyptic video in which a Danish girl dreams a parade of climate horrors—first she's walking through endless drought-stricken land, then she's clinging for dear life as the sea rises around her.

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 11, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: What the Los Angeles Times described as a "flurry" of draft proposals flooded the conference today, bringing fresh impetus. Meanwhile, The Times of London portends that two agreements will come out of the conference because the major countries can't agree on key issues.

<Update>: The official draft climate plan has just been released in Copenhagen - and it's a doozy. The goals it sets for getting major countries to limit carbon emissions and to pay off developing countries are much more than what President Obama is pledging. This should generate a lot of developments during the day. <Update>: The chief U.S. negotiator ispooh-poohing the official draft plan because it is too lenient on China and India.

China verbally attacked the U.S. chief climate negotiator today in Copenhagen for being "irresponsible" in saying that China should not get climate financing from the U.S. It's all about his assertion that the U.S. owes nothing to the world for past greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest version of a Senate climate change bill calls for 17 percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2020 - matching what President Obama is proposing at Copenhagen. It also includes nuclear power plants and increased offshore oil and gas drilling.

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorney Martin Wagner is blogging from the Copenhagen climate change conference. Here is his report for Dec. 10).

Happy Human Rights Day.

Sixty-one years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born. The Declaration and subsequent human rights agreements represent humanity's best expression of the minimum conditions for a life of dignity, and of the need to hold governments accountable for guaranteeing them.

Climate change threatens those rights.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.