People around the world are hoping that the Copenhagen summit, which begins today, will find a solution to the threat of global warming that humanity is facing.
According to an editorial in The Guardian, humanity faces a profound emergency in the form of climate change and unless decisive action is taken, global warming will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security.
The facts speak volumes about the dangerous situation the world faces.
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, according to the editorial.
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 at Copenhagen.
The editorial says that the world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2 degree Celsius, 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.
It is important that every developed country must commit to deep cuts, which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.
Also, the developing countries, which increasingly contribute to warming, should pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own.
Social justice demands the industrialized world to dig deep into its pockets and pledge 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.
The editorial concludes by saying that 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.