The "developed West" has called upon the developing rest to get down to the task of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases instead of "constantly blaming the rich countries" for global warming.
But as it happened Los Angeles, a showpiece of American capitalism, has been branded the most polluted city in the US.
AdvertisementOn the other hand studies have shown that China has successfully cut emissions of an important class of atmospheric pollutants by up to 40 percent in its capital Beijing, ahead of the 2008 summer Olympics.
And embarrassing the global warming skeptics, coral disease outbreaks have struck the healthiest sections of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and a new study has conclusively linked disease severity to ocean temperature and climate change.
It was the European Union that called on developing countries on Tuesday to take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gases, saying they must stop blaming richer nations for their own failure to act.
Policymakers from around the world are meeting with scientists in Bangkok this week to adopt a blueprint for preventing global warming from having catastrophic effects.
They are trying to come to terms with the guidelines proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations network of 2,000 scientists that has produced two landmark reports on global warming this year.
Tom van Ierland, a climate change expert with the European Union, said cooperation from developing countries is essential to the goal of keeping temperatures from climbing more than 3.6 degrees, or 2 degrees Celsius.
The EU is providing tens of millions of dollars in funding for energy efficiency projects in developing countries and supports policies "they themselves can implement to increase their energy efficiency and energy security," he said.
"We need to ensure that in coming years the growth of emissions in developing countries is reduced and eventually capped to be in line with our 2 degree objective," he told reporters.
In its first report this year, the UN scientific panel asserted that global warming is being caused largely by the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The second predicted catastrophic consequences unless man stops burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases.
Even as Ierland was taking it out on the unreasonable and obstructionist developing countries, China, generally blamed as the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, seems to have demonstrated that it has the will to drastically pull down emission levels when it so chooses.
Satellite observations have shown that emissions of NOx, or nitrogen oxides, which are formed during combustion and thought to contribute to global warming, have come down by as much as 40 per cent.
As many as 800,000 of Beijing's 2.82 million vehicles were ordered off the road during a summit meeting on China-Africa cooperation late last year as a dress rehearsal, to try and raise the quality of air athletes breathe. Results are striking.
"We expected a drop in nitrogen emissions, but not to this extent, and after only a short period of time," said study team member Yuxuan Wang of Harvard University.
But contrast this with what is happening to Los Angeles.
It has once again topped the American Lung Association's bad air list of most polluted cities in America.
The association found that the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside metropolitan area had the worst air based on 2003 through 2005 figures.
The organization based the rankings on ozone pollution levels produced when heat and sunlight come into contact with pollutants from power plants, cars, refineries and other sources. The group also studied particle pollution levels emitted from these sources, which are made up of a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air.
Such pollution can contribute to heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks, the association said. Those especially vulnerable to polluted air are children, senior citizens, people who work or exercise outdoors and people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Nearly half of the U.S. population lives in counties that still have unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution, even though there appeared to be less ozone in many counties than previous years, the study found.
Meanwhile comes the news of disease outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system, located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia, Scientists tracked an infection called white syndrome on the Great Barrier Reef.
Coral colonies live atop limestone scaffolding, which is built from the secretions of the coral creatures called polyps. The vivid colors of the coral come from the symbiotic algae that live in the polyps and supply them with much of their nutrients.
When disease or stressful environmental conditions, such as changes in ocean temperature, strike the reef, the polyps expel their algae, making them appear pale. Corals are critical to the survival of some commercial marine species and help buffer low-lying coastal areas.
"More diseases are infecting more coral species every year, leading to the global loss of reef-building corals and the decline of other important species dependent on the reefs," said study lead author John Bruno of the University of North Carolina.
"With this study, speculation about the impacts of global warming on the spread of infectious disease among susceptible marine species has been brought to an end," said Don Rice, director of the National Science Foundation's Chemical Oceanography Program, which helped fund the research.