Heeding The Cry Of Bali Ha'i

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer (R) answers a question during a press briefing during the UN Climate Change Conference 2007 in Nusa Dua, on Bali island, 06 December 2007. A US environmental group lashed the United States for greed and waste at a global forum on climate change, saying many American states emitted more carbon pollution individually than scores of poor nations combined. "The US is responsible for 27.8 percent of the cumulative global warming pollution, while all developing nations' emissions put together totals just 23 percent," the National Environmental Trust (NET) said. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Jewel Samad
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Bloody Mary sings a great song in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific:
Bali ha'i may I call you
Any night, any day.
In your heart, you'll hear it call you,
"Come away, come away."
Well, delegates from around the world are in Bali right now discussing what to do next about climate change. The Kyoto Climate Accords, which the United States did not sign, expire in 2012 and the conference in Bali is designed to come up with what should replace them.

Nobel Laureate Al Gore has already said "Whatever new they come up with should be signed on to immediately. There's no time to waste."

The United States though is loath to sign anything that would bind it to mandatory emission restrictions. "Too hard on the economy," they say. Last time around, in Kyoto, the U.S. said "Why should we take the lead? Who's going to make China comply?"

New studies show that at current rates of emission growth the world will soon reach a tipping point where it will be too late to do anything. Let's hope this time America heeds the cry of Bali Ha'i.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.