Is Lima a failure?

One more conference of the parties has ended. As many before, it dragged on beyond the deadline. Richard Tol remarks this is a tactic employed by developed countries and those with bigger budgets. They can afford large delegate contingents who work in shifts, driving the small country one-man army delegates to drop off from exhaustion, boredom and sleep deprivation.

Presumably this makes decision-making in the UN system easier.

Press coverage has been along predictable lines. There is one aspect that goes unsaid: almost everyone notes how each of the COPs result in an utter failure. Christopher Booker notes for example how every conference throws up as a ‘breakthrough’,  ‘a meaningless document that commits no one to anything’.

However we need to be reminded – this is the best thing that can happen. It is a ‘failure’ for the UN climate mechanism sure but it is the world saved for another year. Any other outcome from these COPs would mean that some countries or all countries have taken on a binding agreement to ‘cut carbon’, in other words hurt themselves and their economies. ‘Failure’ for the climate activist fantasy bubble means success for the rest of us.

The setting up transnational energy budgeting regimes with carbon inspection and verification systems would be the final neomalthusian-Orwellian nightmare. It is appalling the US and other developed countries push for such measures. The US and UK may feel compelled by domestic politics to show they are able to extract promises from China, Brazil and India. But was it their original intention to be monitoring how much gas the average Chinese citizen fills up in his car? Western regulatory systems tend to be absolutist. Issues are tackled with rules, frameworks, discipline, enforceability and penalties. Applied to carbon, it paves the way for future wars.

The far more rational approach is pointed out by Nigel Lawson. Instead of punishing oneself with carbon restriction, and then pursuing imposition of such punishment in other countries by various means, Lima should serve as a opportunity to rethink such self-imposed burdens as the Climate Change Act in the UK, or the EPA-mandated carbon rules in the US.

Contrary to developing countries foolish imaginings developed countries need their economies maintained. It is not just comfort and luxury that costs energy. Good governance, strict regulation, clean environments, digging out of snow and staying warm in the cold costs energy too. The so-called developed economies have poor people as well. They walk, travel by train or bus, buy essentials at discount grocery stores and don’t own homes. As Raghuram Rajan identified in Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy , a developed economy with open markets brings prosperity to ten others.

The COPs are the annual ritualized destruction of climate activists harmful ‘hopes’. Let us work to keep them that way. The conferences are expensive, no doubt but think of them as tithe to be paid yearly to the gods of environmentalism. Emerson said ‘experienced men of the world know very well that it is best to pay scot and lot as they go along, and that a man often pays dear for a small frugality.’

 

[minor edits]

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11 comments

  1. Mervyn

    Is Lima a failure?

    Well, this was the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP20, right? So, after all these conferences over all these years, they still seem no closer to formulateing a globally accepted agreement?

    In my books, that’s a big ‘F A I L’!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Next year this time these people will be doing it again in Paris, that’s if catastrophic man-made global warming hasn’t a.k.a. climate change hasn’t destroyed us with mythical unbearable temperatures and mythical sea level rises.

    Talk about flogging a dead horse!!!! For goodness sake, it is time governments around the world told the UN to shut down its IPCC and stop wasting precious financial resources on this non-problem.

  2. Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)

    Is Lima a failure?! Well, I suppose that depends on one’s definition of the word “failure” – and/or the readiness of the powers that be to acknowledge it as such.

    Until this year, for example, have you ever heard any of the high and mighty powers that be to acknowledge that COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009 was a “failure”?! I don’t think so. Silence descended (even to the point of it not even being mentioned in one of the UNEP sites’ drop-down lists!)

    It certainly hasn’t taken very long for the spin-machine to move into action this year, though! The NYT, for example, succeeded in finding positive spin from now-former WWF-nik Jennifer Morgan … Oh, wait a minute … I now see that the NYT has considerably changed and added to the article I was going to cite (as I had merely linked to on my own post) containing Morgan’s “expert” opinions.

    Well, that’ll teach me: Do not depend on the new, improved NYT for anything – least of all consistency in quotations and/or overall content of an article!

    All of the above aside, however, I’m far more inclined to lean towards the view that the UN should be disbanded and/or abandoned by all genuine democratic nations of the world.

  3. Shub Niggurath

    I’ve seen the link previously Joshua, some good points and some bad ones. The writer has a problem separating his antagonism for Teicholz from his research.

  4. Joshua

    Shub –

    Agreed – but I think his counterpoints to Teicholz’s grandstanding (not that I reject her thesis entirely, or maybe even substantively) speak to the reflexive tendency of “skeptics” towards paranoid “consensus” conspiracies (e.g, the Bishop Hill thread).

    In particular, the notion of a marketing conspiracy that made low fat seeking mindless robots out of the public.

    From the comments:

    https://thescienceofnutrition.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/the-big-fat-surprise-a-critical-review-part-1/#comment-1286

  5. Shub Niggurath

    Joshua, I see your point. In my view governmental guidelines are important not because people follow them, but because it influences what becomes available in the marketplace. No individual cares what the food pyramid is, or even knows, but I believe it is likely their food content inadvertently matches it rough proportion if not in actual constituents. In other words, people don’t avoid carbohydrates actively. While I don’t believe carbohydrate vilification is anywhere widespread, I think people believe fat is bad and cholesterol is bad. People also think ‘healthy foods’ are good, even if they don’t eat it. This is a message that has been promulgated for close to 2 decades now.

  6. Joshua

    Shub –

    ==> ” but I believe it is likely their food content inadvertently matches it rough proportion if not in actual constituents.

    Having a little trouble parsing that.

    ==> “I think people believe fat is bad and cholesterol is bad.”

    Well, yes. But the point is that many people claim that as the result of some kind of government/vested commercial interest conspiracy to mine profits, when in fact actual eating habits don’t support that view.

    ==> “This is a message that has been promulgated for close to 2 decades now.

    Promulgate can have fairly wide-ranging connotations. Yes, the message that dietary fat is unhealthy has been promulgated. The questions for me are more about the mechanism by which that has happened – what does it say about the society/science/research interface? People tend to make a Rorschach out of these situations – to see what they want to see – such as a totalitarian “consensus.” No doubt, there is some element of truth there – but what’s important, IMO, is to be carefully measured about assessing the larger implications.

  7. Shub Niggurath

    Joshua, sorry for delay in reply. I thought about this for a while. In any situation where governmental regulation drives process, there are bound to be winners and losers. Governmental regulation is ostensibly on the basis of science and science is bound to be incomplete. But rarely does government and the activists sell regulation under the admission that the science is incomplete. What is instead seen is the opposite. When the shonky nature of prior evidence becomes apparent, those under the prior regime will stick out as having unfairly benefited.

    The US especially has extremely efficient market systems. But in addition, there is strong disbelief that such systems can deliver public health as a good and a certain role for government is felt needed. I believe, as a result, the efficient market systems are harnessed into delivering ‘public health’. The cooking oil market is a good example of how ‘science’ drives whole classes of products in and out of markets. If saturated fat is vilified by regulatory science, manufacturers will be driven out of the market.

    In my view, government should withdraw as much as possible from ‘positive’ regulatory practices, and should only minimally engage in identification of definitive harms. What constitutes good and bad can never be definitively answered by science. Charges of ‘conspiracy’ would be much harder to come up with then.

  8. Joshua

    Shub –

    ==> “But rarely does government and the activists sell regulation under the admission that the science is incomplete. What is instead seen is the opposite. When the shonky nature of prior evidence becomes apparent, those under the prior regime will stick out as having unfairly benefited.

    Not much that I disagree with there. But my reaction is…meh. Life ain’t perfect, and it’s perfections need to be judged in the context of the alternatives.

    ==> “In my view, government should withdraw as much as possible from ‘positive’ regulatory practices, and should only minimally engage in identification of definitive harms. What constitutes good and bad can never be definitively answered by science.”

    “As much as possible” is inherently subjective. So is “minimally engage in identification of definitive harm.”

    ==> “Charges of ‘conspiracy’ would be much harder to come up with then.”

    Charges of conspiracy are incredibly easy to come up with. They will never be difficult.

  9. Shub Niggurath

    “Not much that I disagree with there. But my reaction is…meh. Life ain’t perfect, and it’s perfections need to be judged in the context of the alternatives.”

    Yes, but recall how we got here – trying to figure out why there are charges of ‘conspiracy’ when scientific findings that overturn a paradigm are first encountered in the context of a ‘regime of truth’ established by the paradigm. When regulations are sold on the promise of strong science and winners and losers are established by decree, it is akin to a ‘conspiracy’ to the extent there is lack of transparency. Overselling the strength of science is a lack of transparency.

    ““In my view, government should withdraw as much as possible from ‘positive’ regulatory practices, and should only minimally engage in identification of definitive harms.

    vs

    “As much as possible” is inherently subjective”

    Of course, it is. My point was broader. Where does government take the approach of ‘withdrawal from regulatory practices’? More importantly, where does government recognize to potential of long-term harm under hastily fashioned science-based policy? Nowhere as far as I can tell. There is no official document that recognizes the potential for harm from science-based regulatory activity. Right now the present mode, in the United States and the UK for instance, seems to be add more and more inhibitory and prohibitory policies in the name of science

  10. Shub Niggurath

    Here’s an article on saturated fat and Teicholz’s book in the British Medical Journal. The author is Richard Smith
    http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7654

    Having ploughed my way through five books on diet and some of the key studies to write this article, I’m left with the impression that the same accusation of “mass murder” could be directed at many players in the great diet game. In short, bold policies have been based on fragile science, and the long term results may be terrible

    You need to explain to me how why it’s not just blog commenters who adopt a ‘conspiratorial tone’ on seeing government-driven diet recomendations.