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Earlier this week I was envious of Papua New Guinea for a reason I'll come back to later. The UN Climate Conference in Bali ended, and the world was left to decide whether the glass was half full or half empty. In any case, we'd better check the water quality. Few believe anything will improve until the American government changes in just over a year. With George W. Bush and Dick Cheney at the helm, there is no chance of removing the poisoned chalice from the international debate.

In the absence of vision the whole world will suffer. And there is no vision without a global leadership prepared to see the monstrous future beyond its nose instead of sticking it into others' affairs.

When will they understand that the global-warming threat is no less severe than the terror threat, and that greenhouse gases are more dangerous than gases used in war?

There is no choice: The developed countries, especially the developed countries, must pay for their ongoing indulgence retroactively.

They must lower their living standard to save life. The future started long ago, so there is no more time to waste. And the future is black - with soot.

Israel has not heard the warning bells either. Here too the leaders are eating and drinking the country away, knowing that tomorrow we will die.

We are fond of reciting that we have nothing more precious than our children, however we are leaving them a poisoned legacy.

At the national journalists conference last month I categorized the media as being among those indifferent about their legacy - it too mostly sees the environment's chronic disease as a seasonal flu epidemic.

As long as the senior journalists don't accept their commitment to the earth, air and clean water, the politicians will drag their feet.

It is hard to understand why born-again Christians like Bush and Cheney, of all people, are unwilling to lend a finger to stop the dike.

After all, the arguments about the planet are over - chaos at its creation, it can become chaos again at its destruction. Everyone now knows that climate change is a man-made catastrophe.

Bali turned out to be a tragic theater of the absurd. A chorus of 200 nations cried out for emergency action, and the leading country alone defied the international community. This is a world turned upside down.

And suddenly, at the end, a moment before the conference's defeat, a loud, defiant voice was heard addressing the Americans: "If for some reason you don't want to lead, leave it to us, get out of the way, at least don't interfere."

The words fell like thunder, there was a moment's hush, then applause, then the American representative gave in and joined the consensus.

Who had suddenly become the world's mouthpiece? The delegate of Papua New Guinea, that country in the southwest Pacific at the end of the world.

The island became the head while the great continent was cut off and became the tail.

This country, with its magnificent fauna and flora, decided to save itself.

It is not prepared to sink and disappear when the icebergs melt, the oceans rise, the storms intensify, the species become extinct and the deserts spread and cover the land.

I was madly jealous. When will Israel stand up and become a mouthpiece for the many?

When will we tell America, "if you won't, or can't, then get out of the way"? And not just on the environment, but on war and peace too.

Climate change and the environment will provide fertile ground for conflicts, and the next wars will be driven by dwindling resources, food and water. Waiting first in line for this disaster is the Middle East.