The G8 Summit: Hype or Helpful?

On May 19 and 20, the 38th-annual G8 Summit will meet in Camp David, MD, to discuss a number of issues, one of them being pollution. Will the summit really be successful?

What is the G8 Summit?

According to chicagog8.com, in the early 1970s, several leading world economic countries would meet at the White House to discuss a number of different issues including pollution and conservation.

By 1975, after France and Germany called for a more formal summit, France hosted the first summit that included a group of six nations, and was called the G6.

This tradition continues to this day, with an annual summit held in a location selected by that year's host country.

Currently, the G8 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the USA.

On some occasions, other countries are involved in the summit.

China, Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa, and the European Union have at least  sat once in on one of the summit meetings.

This year, the U.S. is the host nation.

The summit will be held on May 19-20 at Camp David, MD. Camp David is a military installation about 100 miles outside of Washington, DC.

Of note, the summit was initially scheduled to take place in Chicago, the first major U.S. city appearance of the summit in four years. However, the National Security Office speaking to Chicago.cbslocal.com, the White house, in a surprise move, relocated the summit to Camp David to, “provide an informal and intimate setting to have a free-flowing discussion.”

Speculations of fears concering a large convergance of protesters were denied as the reason for the suprise move.

The proceeding NATO summit is still scheduled for this weekend in Chicago.


What is the purpose of the G8?

The purpose of the G8 is not something that is written in stone.

The summit is a venue of resolving differences among its members and for members to give each other mutual encouragement in tackling a wide variety of issues.

Traditionally, the host country of the G8 summit sets the agenda for the negotiations that are to take place.

However, world events cause the list of topics to expand into other areas.

As of yet, the U.S. government has not disclosed its G8 summit priorities, according to one.org.

Issues in the past have included conservation, reducing carbon emissions, global climate change, nuclear security, Africa outreach, drug trafficking, counter-terrorism, among other global concerns.

According to chicagog8.com, the relevance of the G8 and the usefulness of the summit is highly debated.

The summits have drawn widespread protest, violence, and property damage.

Many feel that the summit does not resolve anything.

On the other hand, there are people that have faith the G8 summit's mission and feel that by continually discussing these issues, some kind of resolution can be achieved.


What should the G8 discuss this year?

Although all of the above issues are extremely important and deserve much attention, I believe that the G8 needs to focus on a number of environmental issues including global climate change, conservation, deforestation, reducing carbon emissions and alternative fuel sources.

China and the United States continue to be the greatest emitters of carbon dioxide, according to CDIAC (Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center).

The more carbon dioxide that is emitted, the greater the greenhouse effect on the planet.

To make matters worse, many nations are continuing to cut down vast tracts of forest. Trees help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The best way to combat this issue is to move away from fossil fuels.

I know what you are going to ask me: How in the heck are we going to do that?

Good question! The answer isn't an easy one.

Alternative fuel sources are easy to come by, harnessing them is the hard part.

Solar energy is great, but it is still very expensive and hydrogen is very abundant but volatile and hard to maintain and control.

Scientists and engineers are working on these issues but require time, assistance, and most importantly: funding.

By making these issues a top priority, theses projects will receive the attention they deserve.

I think that many people believe that environmental issues will just get better with time, but this couldn't be farther from the truth.

This wound will not heal on its own if we keep re-opening it by continuing to pollute and emit more and more greenhouse gases.

As a side note, I also believe that the leaders of the G8 need to look into the benefits of conservation. Forests and the many forms of life on this planet are all very important to the ecosphere.

Many species are in danger of extinction because of deforestation, illegal trading, and pollution.

These species are integral to the environment and the food web. Destabilizing the ecosphere will only make things more difficult in the long run.

If we (the U.S.) can try to lead by example, then perhaps, other heavy polluting nations like China and India will understand the importance of taking care of our world.

We can not do it alone!

Lisa Dalantinow May 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Phil: I really enjoyed this article for one your information is great as well as your opinion on what's important issues to discuss. It is so important for these countries to get together because we all need to realize CHANGES have to be made especially to the enviroment. Thank you so much for selecting this issue to discuss. The more it is talked about the more we can try to educate people. Lisa
Philip Freda May 20, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Thank you for your comment Ms. Dalantinow. I couldn't agree more with your comment. It all starts with us though. We need to be the change we want to see in the world, but I think the G8's intentions are good and a great start.


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