Climate diplomacy is just war by other means. In fact, climate as diplomacy took birth for this purpose though the pretense at the surface is anything but. The initial momentum of the climate movement was Malthusian – directed at overconsumption of ‘resources’ and ‘overpopulation’ of the earth by the wrong types of human beings in developing countries. Paradoxically however, the movement incorporated globally negotiated treaty-making under the UN as an integral part of its design. This meant inviting the very targets of the Malthusians to voluntarily subject themselves to the intended curbs—in growing crops, using forests and land, producing and using fossil fuels—essentially in all elements of modern life. This central, unresolved paradox has remained at the heart of the UNFCCC/IPCC process.
When things kicked off (at Rio de Janeiro) in 1992, the only way to entice developing countries to participate in the UNFCCC was via (a) promises of a temporary reprieve and special permissions to continue using fossil fuels – the so-called principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities,’ and (b) dangling the twin carrots of technology transfer and financial aid to overcome the ravages of climate change. Developing countries like India and China, then utterly secure in their backwardness, were eager to accept these conditions. All one had to do was accept climate consensus formulations (‘the science’) to appear scientific, which was an attractive proposition to the global South. Once accepted the Rio template brought further benefits. They could band together in berating developed countries like the US and the UK for their ‘rampant consumerism,’ ‘capitalism,’ and ‘exploitation of resources.’ They could pretend to ‘care’ for ‘the environment.’ The ball of ’emission reduction’ was not yet in their court which made the moral posturing easier.
To be fair, as poor nations lacked leverage, there were direct participatory pressures on developing countries. If they chose to keep away from the UNFCCC/COP negotiations, they could find themselves subject to mandatory rules made in their absence. The safety valve in all this was the knowledge that the US was neither about to transfer nuclear technology nor freely part with gobs of cash. The developed countries had their safety valves, too. For a good while, countries like Germany and Russia double-counted incidental large dips in their GDP toward the Kyoto protocol. In the US, the Senate proved to be an insurmountable barrier for climate activist legislation. Ironically, in climate circles, the knowledge/belief that neither India nor China would accept accept verifiable mandatory emission reduction targets has itself served as an inhibitory force. In other words, each party depends on the other to act in their self-interest in order to protect themselves from self-harm in the name of climate!
Developed countries use ‘the science’ to pursue Malthusian dreams of their environmentalist cohorts. Developing countries pretend at believing in the science to play at being the global left. Skepticism at the whole charade drops between the cracks. This has been the climate story over the past 22 years – of pantomime fools dancing around a Gordian knot.
There is, however, great danger even in play-acting in a Malthusian drama. At regular intervals, countries have found themselves paying a real price for the indulgence. The Climate Change Act in the UK is one such example. Written entirely by a college-level activist, the passage of the CCA exposed the weakness of ‘checks and balances’ in the UK and showed how trivial it was to being gamed. The EPA coal rules – the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ of the Obama administration in the US are a second example of calculated harm inflicted by a government on its own citizens. With Copenhagen, the UNFCCC/COP system entered an unstable phase. Here a hastily assembled alliance of countries BASIC fended off a binding agreement. But the wall of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ was crumbling fast with the growth of the Indian, Brazilian and Chinese economies. Post-Copenhagen, the United States went to work breaking down the BASIC alliance and by 2015 had largely succeeded. Stung by failure, climate activists were under pressure to show the world they could succeed. India did not want to be seen as a lone villain obstructing a treaty. The Paris agreement was born.
With Paris, there were only two safety valves left standing. One, that developed countries would not actually cough up billions of dollars annually for ‘climate adaptation.’ Two, the US Senate or the political system would not ratify and implement an internationally imposed mandate of emissions reduction. It is at this juncture that Donald Trump has been elected. As Benny Peiser points in the Financial Post, if Trump carries out what he has proclaimed, there would be no free cash flowing toward developing countries in the guise of a climate fund. The Obama-era climate regulations could see themselves dismantled completely. These should provide enough excuses for developing countries—if they have the sense to recognize the opportunity—to disengage from economic self-harm and walk away from the precipice. The abysmal failure of the Indian position at Marrakech should serve as yet another example that moral posturing on the climate brings zero tangible benefits to countries.
With Trump, and open climate skepticism, a global era of countries depending on others to act in self-interest in order to protect their own can finally come to a end. The chapter of fake collective global climate guilt can be closed.
You are a scientist. You wake up one morning and go:
“Why don’t I write a letter to the US Attorney General asking her to throw fossil fuel companies in jail under the RICO act?
It would be my civic deed for the day”.
No it doesn’t. Climate scientists have a penchant for signing activist letters. But letters pushing legal advice to an Attorney General recommending prosecution of opponents?
So where do these strange ideas come from?
Step forward ‘Climate Accountability Institute’
The Climate Accountability Institute (CAI) is a small front attempting to marry ‘climate concerns’ to environmentalism and tobacco prohibitionist tactics. But ‘small’ is a relative term in the climate activist world.
In 2012 the CAI held a ‘workshop’ in La Jolla California. It was ‘conceived’ by Naomi Oreskes and others, and called ‘Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages: Lessons from Tobacco Control.’ Stanton Glantz, a prominent tobacco control activist scientist was present as were a clutch of lawyers, climate scientists, communication professionals, PR agency heads, bloggers and journalists.
They released a report (pdf):
The workshop was an ‘exploratory, open-ended dialogue’ on the use of ‘lessons from tobacco-related education, laws, and litigation to address climate change.’
The headline conclusion was essentially conspiracy theory. Here it is, verbatim (emphasis mine):
A key breakthrough in the public and legal case for tobacco control came when internal documents came to light showing the tobacco industry had knowingly misled the public. Similar documents may well exist in the vaults of the fossil fuel industry and their trade associations and front groups…
Why do these mythical documents needed to be ‘unearthed’?
While we currently lack a compelling public narrative about climate change in the United States, we may be close to coalescing around one. Furthermore, climate change may loom larger today in the public mind than tobacco did when public health advocates began winning policy victories.
The reader should take a moment to grasp the momentous logic: We know legally ‘incriminating documents’ (their choice of words) ‘may’ exist, because tobacco activists had a breakthrough with such documents. They need to be found in order to make climate change a ‘looming threat’ in the public mind.
Try thinking of a more reverse-engineered form of activism.
The first chapter in the report is ‘Lessons from Tobacco Control’. It is mainly one section called ‘The Importance of Documents in Tobacco Litigation’
We learn next to nothing about these supposed ‘documents’ from the report. After all, they haven’t been released or even found.
But ‘the documents’ were very valuable:
says ‘one of the most important lessons to emerge from the history of tobacco litigation’ was the ‘value of bringing internal industry documents to light’.
There was little doubt about their existence:
… many participants suggested that incriminating documents may exist that demonstrate collusion among the major fossil fuel companies …
Since they were so sure they exist, careful plotting was needed on companies whose vaults to raid
He [Glantz] stressed the need to think carefully about which companies and which trade groups might have documents that could be especially useful.
Stanton Glantz was a vocal workshop participant:
Glantz was so excited he proposed using the tobacco archives platform at the University of California San Francisco for climate documents (which were yet to be found)
Because the Legacy Collection’s software and infrastructure is already in place, Glantz suggested it could be a possible home for a parallel collection of documents from the fossil fuel industry pertaining to climate change.
In what mode were the documents to be used?
Most importantly, the release of these documents meant that charges of conspiracy or racketeering could become a crucial component of tobacco litigation
Having firmly established that documents convenient to their strategy existed, the delegates moved on to discussing how to obtain them
The answer was once again clear: ‘lawsuits’. It was not just lawsuits, it was ‘Congressional hearings’, ‘sympathetic state attorney generals’ and ‘false advertising claims’.
State attorneys general can also subpoena documents, raising the possibility that a single sympathetic state attorney general might have substantial success in bringing key internal documents to light
Oreskes had a bunch of advertisements with her:
Oreskes noted that she has some of the public relations memos from the group and asked whether a false advertising claim could be brought in such a case.
Even libel suits were deemed useful:
Roberta Walburn noted that libel suits can also serve to obtain documents that might shed light on industry tactics.
Once the documents were in the bag, a story needed to be spun. :
In lawsuits targeting carbon producers, lawyers at the workshop agreed, plaintiffs need
to make evidence of a conspiracy a prominent part of their case.
Now you know where the line on how ‘fossil fuel companies ‘knew’ they were doing wrong but yet did it’ comes from. The cries of ‘it’s a conspiracy!’ are planned and pre-meditated, on lawyers’ advice.
This is where RICO came in:
Richard Ayres, an experienced environmental attorney, suggested that the RICO Act, which had been used effectively against the tobacco industry, could similarly be used to bring a lawsuit against carbon producers.
Richard Ayres is no slouch. A prominent environmental lawyer, he is co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Ayres knew starting lawsuits against productive companies wouldn’t look good. They needed to be spun:
It has to be something positive
How? By dressing it up as injury ‘compensation’
“Even if your ultimate goal might be to shut down a company, you still might be wise to start out by asking for compensation for injured parties.”
Heede is working to derive the proportion of the planet’s atmospheric carbon load that is traceable to the fossil fuels produced and marketed by each of these companies
Heede’s bizarre formulas, we learn, were received ‘positively’ by ‘most of the workshop’s participants’. One UCS participant felt that ‘it could potentially be useful as part of a coordinated campaign to identify key climate “wrongdoers.” Another felt it was useful in blaming faceless corporate entities instead of countries thereby bypassing provoking patriotic impulses in international negotiations.
Heede’s work was funded by Greenpeace. Of note, Greenpeace counsel Jasper Teulings was present at the meeting.
An inspired Oreskes then appears to have proposed blaming sea level rise on corporations:
Picking up on this notion, Naomi Oreskes suggested that some portion of sea level rise could be attributed to the emissions caused by a single carbon-producing company
The oil company Exxon made its appearance in her example:
She suggested, “You might be able to say, ‘Here’s Exxon’s contribution to what’s happening to Key West or Venice.’”
This was a strategy Glantz liked:
…Stanton Glantz expressed some enthusiasm about such a strategy, based on his experience with tobacco litigation. As he put it, “I would be surprised if the industry chose to attack the calculation that one foot of flooding in Key West could be attributed to ExxonMobil.
The conspiratorial tide did not recede. Former computer scientist John Mashey claimed collusion between ‘climate change deniers’ and fossil fuel companies:
[Mashey] presented a brief overview of some of his research, which traces funding, personnel, and messaging connections between roughly 600 individuals …
The penultimate section in the report is on how delegates planned to win ‘public opinion’. Even with RICO, some felt it was ‘not easy’ (‘RICO is not easy. It is certainly not a sure win’ – Ayres) and others were wary of drawing the attention of “hostile legislators who might seek to undermine them”.
With public opinion, the delegates were clearly divided. PR mavens, lawyers and activists wanted to cry fraud, paint up villains and create outrage:
To mobilize, people often need to be outraged.
Daniel Yankelovich a ‘public opinion researcher’ involved in ‘citizen education’ appears to have balked at the ‘sue, sue, sue’ chanting. Court cases are useful only after the public had been won over, he said.
It is not clear he grasped the activists and lawyers aimed for the same with a spectacular legal victory or headlines generated by court cases and bypass the whole issue of ‘citizen education’ .
The workshop ended and there was ‘agreement’. ‘Documents’ needed to be obtained. Legal action was needed both for ‘wresting potentially useful internal documents’ and ‘maintaining pressure on the industry’.
A consensus had emerged
… an emerging consensus on a strategy that incorporates legal action with a narrative that creates public outrage.
The participants, we learn
…made commitments to try to coordinate future efforts, continue discussing strategies for gaining access to internal documents from the fossil fuel industry and its affiliated climate denial network…
Photo (c) Brenda Ekwurzel, from the report
Why is the report important? Because climate activists have done everything the delegates said they wanted done, in the report.
Everyone from climate skeptics like Roy Spencer, columnists like Holman Jenkins Jr and even a consensusist like William Connolley has been left scratching their head. However, from RICO to ‘Exxon knew’ — the twin defibrillator paddles in use to reanimate a moribund climate Frankenstein — the present actions of climate activists have been none but the pre-meditated ones presented in the report.
These include the latest letter from US Senators to Exxon, the conspiratorial ‘Exxon Knew’ campaign with the portrayal of old Exxon reports by InsideClimateNews as ‘internal documents’, the RICO letter from scientists and much more. Particularly, with the pathetic ‘journalism’ of InsideClimateNews it is almost as if climate activists have willed these ‘documents’ into existence – just as they were advised.
The CAI are free to plot the downfall of their opponents. But it is somewhat of a surprise to see the entirety of their ideas to be picked up and translated into action by the intellectually bankrupt climate activist movement.
One of the oft-repeated words in climate negotiation-speak is ‘ambition’. Ambition refers to how much cutting of carbon emissions (and consequently economic damage) a country is willing to commit to in negotiations (the COPs). ‘Ambition’ for Paris appears to have prematurely gone flaccid, an indicator being the irrepressible Christiana Figueres‘ plans for 2030 for a CO2-cutting treaty to avert ‘2C’.
The climate negotiation troupe is made of a trifecta of nationally-selected bureaucrat representatives, non-governmental groups, and media agencies. A cardinal point in its structure lies in each thinking the others to be responsible for ‘ambition’. But this is fundamentally irreconcilable with the parties’ individual aims and motives. Countries and blocs participate to safeguard their self-interests, NGOs and media organs contribute to noise and propagation of the pantomime. In other words, in reality, there is no ambition within the UNFCCC system. Climate activists bide their time hoping for a perfect storm of circumstance, leadership failure and true belief to precipitate a dissolution of countries’ defenses.
With the above, the real dealing, maneuvering and re-positioning take place behind-the-scenes, well in advance of the conference of parties (COPs). To get a sense, I would recommend Benny Peiser’s excellent summation of the state-of-play. Briefly, there are key indicators to suggest no ambitious outcome can be expected from Paris.
First, China has its agreement with the United States as demonstration of its ‘commitment’. The United States itself, under President Barack Obama, will no doubt valiantly present its environmental agency rules as proof. Recognizing the fiasco of its own position within the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has walked back from its traditional unilateral commitment to emissions reduction to a conditional one. The EU’s requirement for emission-reduction is conditional on a legally binding international treaty, to which China, India and the US Senate present a near-insurmountable barrier. As ever, India has re-iterated its right to development via fossil-fuel use and questioned the lack of concrete steps about their own emissions from the US and EU. The end result: a hodge-podge of national measures that individual countries can hold up en-route to a defensibly failed Paris.
Peiser’s article makes clear the constant presence of the UNFCCC has acted as an evolutionary force in international negotiations. Countries have learned to accommodate and incorporate ‘climate’ into so-called business-as-usual functioning rather than the opposite.
Have you heard that environmental pressure group EDF is criticizing your choice of ministers for agriculture and science? It has compared them to Holocaust deniers. Apart from EDF’s right to criticize sovereign governments (none) and potential benefits to Brazil if you followed its wishes (none), I’m sure there are good things to come from toeing EDF diktats.
Here’s the list: pressure groups would no longer call minister Katia Abreu ‘chainsaw queen’ (what a relief that would be). Science minister and communist Aldo Rebelo would no longer be called a ‘hard-core tea partier’ (a bigger ignominy lifted). Additional benefits? You can look ‘in touch with modern science’ (oooh) and not look ‘really provincial and silly on the world stage’ (how backward would that be).
Commie Rebelo in particular…does he know this is the 21st century? Why is he stuck with ideas from ’19th century Karl Marx protégé Friedrich Engels’? ‘Government’ is no more, the rage is ‘governance’. Now, countries give up rights to NGOs under ‘shared governance’. Otherwise, the ‘international community’ might ‘roll their eyes and cringe’.
You know, EDF is a model organization. They helped BP set up their ‘internal carbon-trading system’, they accepted millions of dollars from Michael Bloomberg to greenwash the dangerous and controversial technique™ called fracking and published prop papers in PNAS supporting fracking. The latter dangerous and controversial technique is called ‘frackademia‘. Take a look at this article: it appears in Desmogblog and Tenney Naumer reproduces it.
When Naumer links to an item, you should know you’re in trouble.
Does the EDF-BP link bother you? EDF is a pioneer in ‘partnership with industry model’ of environmentalism – i.e, sleeping with the enemy. Isn’t it funny they’re jumping on Abreu for the same thing? Other big gun green groups followed EDF: Sierra Club with Chesapeake Energy and National Audobon Society with Monsanto. EDF itself has gotten in bed with McDonalds and Fedex (more evil corporations).
Did you know EDF collected donations from Walmart – the evil corporation that probably has more branches than the Amazon has trees?
By the way, did you know environmental groups were themselves ‘rolling their eyes’ at EDF’s ‘modus operandi‘? You criticize EDF you chase donors away (who likely roll their eyes as they run) (emphasis mine):
Of course, everyone in the environmental movement knows that this is EDF’s modus operandi. In fact, for years, public interest advocates have rolled their eyes and complained to one another in private about how EDF undercuts their work time and time again. But, everyone is afraid to speak out because they might upset funders, who are turned off by disagreements among environmentalists.
One large circle of eye-rolling, isn’t it?
Wait till you hear from anonymous former employees – the horse’s mouth. EDF, we are told, takes lots of money from US Republicans (evil), but has a ‘partisan management’ that is protective of ‘Democratic interests’. Check this out: in a bout of self eye-rolling, EDF employess ganged up and refused a vacation spot…because Pat Robertson owned a stake.
Most sadly, EDF management caved go the fascist voices on staff who refused to attend their annual retreat because it was being held at a beautiful hotel complex with a pro-American theme where Pat Robertson had a small stake in ownership.
This post grew from reading Ruth Dixon‘s excellent posts on the relationship between CO2 emissions, national wealth and climate, one of which is on her ‘Dixon’s Diamond Law‘. Ruth is focused on a more climate-centred perspective; however, her first post carries a graph from the UNEP that is shown below (Figure 1):
From the above, the linear relationship between GDP and CO2 emissions (both per-capita and on a log scale) is immediately obvious. But can we learn anything more? That was my question.
The same graph is shown below from Gapminder (Figure 2), only simpler – each dot is a country.
I drew an imaginary straight-line in dashes as shown. What is evident here (and in the UNEP graph) is that there are no countries in the wide area below and to the right of the imaginary line.
This is the space climate alarmists, the IPCC, Greenpeace, and now the latest in line, the Vatican want the world to be in. They would like to push as far to the bottom, and right, as possible – one where is wealth is intact and CO2 emissions per capita are low. Even any rightward push (i.e., increased wealth) is no absolute, the downward push (reduced CO2 emission) is paramount. They want to save the climate.
But you can go to Gapminder and examine the live version of the graph. The animation runs from 1960 to ~2011 and the invisible barrier should become well evident. Countries bounce along this parapet, pottering up and down or sideways but almost none cross it. There are no countries in the bottom-right area, say where $10,000 GDP/capita and 0.1 tonne CO2 meet (the spot marked ‘X’). Nor are any for miles in the wide swathes around it.
Clearly, this reflects some fundamental property. High wealth-for-low energy is a desirable target even for those unburdened by weighty climate concerns but this is simply not attained. The sheer emptiness of the region in the graph should give reason to pause, particularly to fantasy-prone and fretful physics professors. This is not a space where nations exist.
But, the picture above is not complete. What about the handful of countries close to and to the right of the dashed line at the top of the cloud of points? By re-plotting the graph with the x-axis (wealth) linear (Figure 3), the nature of the ‘invisible barrier’ and its exceptions become clearer:
The ‘barrier’ now shown as a solid line has a vertical portion ‘A’. Countries are stacked one above the other, starting from very low CO2 emissions/capita of 0.04 ton up to ~2 ton. Then there is a horizontally oriented segment ‘B’ where countries are more variable in CO2 emissions (between 4 and ~12 ton/capita roughly).
Again, take a look at Gapminder’s live version. Countries climb up along A – their CO2 emissions/capita goes up but GDP doesn’t budge much. The stack moves through emissions more than two orders in magnitude without change in GDP. ‘A’ is acquisition of infrastructural capacity and sophistication and maturity of political forms. Crucially, ‘A’ is diffusion of the capacity to emit CO2 throughout the population.
After about ~2 ton, the ‘barrier’ starts yielding. There is growth in GDP without increase in CO2 emissions. Countries roughly between 4 – 10 ton break the rightward shift barrier: in ‘B’ there are substantial increases in wealth without increases in CO2 (Figure 4).
Countries along ‘B’ are the the ones to the right of the dashed line in Figure 2. These are mainly European nations, the United States and Japan (Figure 5). Per-capita increases in wealth occur along B, only at the top-end of A. i.e, after attainment of a certain capacity to emit CO2. There are no exceptions.
Secondly, most ‘B’ countries employ significant nuclear power. Deployment of substantive nuclear power only occurs along the ‘B’ curve; with the exception of India and China, there are no countries in ‘A’ with substantial nuclear deployment.
Analyzing national wealth and energy use is not straightforward. But surprisingly, there is a clear conclusion to be drawn—the low-carbon-high-wealth or even the low-carbon-moderate-wealth country does not exist. It has not existed to date. Dissociation between wealth and per-capita CO2 occurs only at the higher end of per-capita CO2. Importantly, contrary to portrayals of ‘decarbonization’ of economies as an universal good (Roger Pielke Jr), reduction, or more precisely a lack of increase in CO2 with GDP is possible only at the higher end of per-capita CO2. It appears one needs to go up in order to come down.
When the Nazca lines fiasco broke, Greenpeace’s response was to assure the world it worked with an archaeologist, taking every possible precaution:
Questions arose immediately:
Peru’s deputy Minister of Culture Luis Jaime Castillo went so far as to say the archaeologist was ‘the person you have to identify’
An archaeologist was identified in a New York Times report of the incident. It named Wolfgang Sadik, an ‘archaeologist-turned activist’ who we were told had ‘set aside his studies to work for Greenpeace’. The NYT relied on a Reuters video to relay how Sadik seemed to be directing ‘some of the other activists’. It quoted photographer Rodrigo Abd:
“The archaeologist explained where to walk and where not to walk,”… “There was a great concern not to even leave a mark of your shoes on the ground, and if a rock was moved put it back in its place.”
The article further quoted Wolfgang Neubauer of the University of Vienna who informed Sadik was his doctoral candidate and had ‘put off his studies to work with Greenpeace.’
This blog will show there’s more than what the New York Times let its readers in for.
Far from being a consultant archaeologist, Wolfgang Sadik is a committed long-time Greenpeace activist who has conducted several campaigns for the organization including some in leadership positions.
Sadik’s recorded Greenpeace activism appears to begin over a decade ago in 2003 when he appeared in Tuwaitha, Iraq near Baghdad as a ‘Greenpeace spokesman’. He was part of a 6-member Greenpeace team that measured radiation and radiation sickness at sites where looted material from the Tuwaitha nuclear facilities had made their way.
In 2007, Greenpeace planned for a symbolism-laden stunt at Mount Ararat near Turkey. Sadik was the leader. Battling skepticism within Greenpeace (‘too sentimental, too American, not serious enough’) Sadik pushed plans for building a boat-shaped ‘Noah’s ark’ structure on the slopes of the mountain to coincide with a G8 summit at Heiligendamm.
In one respect, similarities between the Nazca stunt and Greenpeace’s Ark are striking. As the team ‘action coordinator’ he reasoned:
The Ark was an available and widely-known symbol, so why not use it?
The ark project was successful in attracting month-long ‘international media attention’ (Greenpeace criterion for success); the source article reports Sadik thought the stunt ‘had had the biggest impact of any campaign Greenpeace had ever created in that part of the world’.
In the period afterward, Sadik appears to have shifted to archaeology, working with Wolfgang Neubauer on archaeological excavations in Hallstatt, Austria. A 46-page glitzy pamphlet produced in 2008 highlights his work on the site. It is not clear when he stopped in archaeology.
In February 2011 Sadik surfaced in Fukushima, Japan, once again measuring radiation levels. This time, Der Spiegel was laundering Sadik’s views as a ‘Greenpeace expert’ as it warned of a possible reactor meltdown. He was already back with Greenpeace earlier in the year: in January he was in a round-table discussion with host Reinhard Ueberhorst in his capacity as Greenpeace’s ‘Energy 2010 campaign manager’. Last year Sadik took part in another ark building project ‘Arche2020‘ as ‘project coordinator’ from Greenpeace Germany.
From the above, it is evident Greenpeace performed little to no archaeological due diligence in planning their Nazca act. Instead of employing external and independent expertise, it went with what was available inside, using wrong advice from an activist member as cover for its actions. It is not known if other archaeologists were present in the Greenpeace team.
UPDATE: DGH (@Bioreducer) points out Sadik’s involvement with Greenpeace goes further back, with a 1997 report of a Greenpeace ‘Genetic Hazard Patrol’ chaining itself to a ‘tanker truck containing 35,000 litres of genetically engineered soya oil’ in Rotterdam, which likely included Sadik.
Economic damage from man-made ‘climate change’ is illusory whereas damage from man-made ‘policies’ to fight the said change is real. Damage from man-made climate change will come in the future whereas damage from man-made policies to fight the change will be immediate. Token measures will not result in reduced human carbon dioxide emissions whereas significant reduction cannot happen without affecting large numbers of people in the present. Babbling about future global tail risk would appear dense when parts of the present-day world face ongoing and slow-moving catastrophes now.
Is this controversial? The answer is yes – if you’re trapped in the alarmists’ camp, believe in Nicholas Stern, and imagine like marooned Japanese soldiers that World War II is still raging (see picture above).
Setting aside the skepticism in the first statement, Richard Tol provides an excellent synthesis of the climate change policy debate. It is probably the best you will read for the year. The international climate diplomacy community has invested decades in trying to solve the imaginary climate problem. Whatever the outcome of ‘Paris‘ may be, they are not about to simply disappear with nothing left to do. It is likely the world will need to grapple with the impacts of climate policymakers to come in the foreseeable future. As Paris approaches – the costs will be high, the rhetoric shrill and the crescendo unbearable. Skulduggery and subversion of democracy, guaranteed.
The traffic-addicted AndTheresPhysics has picked up on the article in ham-handed fashion and squirted his wisdom in the usual manner pretending to disagree with Tol while agreeing with nearly all his points. If a recent run-in with the physicist was any indication, it is not clear he understands applying self-punitive carbon dioxide reduction constitutes a real present-day harm, at all.
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.’
The farce has tipped over into the gulch
About a year back, John Cook and his Skepticalscience team members put out a paper finding a 97% ‘consensus’ in climate literature. An unstoppable media juggernaut trailed its wake. Analysis and discussion followed. Among critical voices, Richard Tol summarized his findings in a live manuscript. But available data was not enough to examine the paper’s fundamentals. The long quest for the full raw data began.
In a series of requests to the authors, the journal and the university, Tol contacted everyone concerned. Cook refused to release the data. Matters escalated to University of Queensland Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research Max Lu and portions of data were reluctantly released.
Further problems were immediately evident — they were tweeted within the day. Some discrepancy was to be expected but the new material suggested gaps of significantly larger magnitude. It appeared the system used was not reliable:
Abstract and paper ratings agree in 37% of cases. Chance agreement is 32%. Cohen’s Kappa is 8%. h/t @shubclimate
— Richard Tol (@RichardTol) July 8, 2013
Tol continued his efforts and more data was released. However, meta-data required for validation continued to be held back. Tol eventually published his paper without such data.
Closely on its heels, blogger Brandon Shollenberger announced he had additional data. At this juncture, legal threats arrived from the University of Queensland. The university has threatened to sue Shollenberger for breach of copyright, warning him to not release or analyse the data.
Precious secret research data
The university has claimed confidentiality issues and copyright over the data. However, Cook gifted paper authorship to eight volunteers who rated high numbers of papers. Twelve others were named in the acknowledgements for ‘collecting email addresses and rating abstracts’. Their names were public. As Anthony Watts notes, the paper was published under a Creative Commons license.
In his study, Cook emailed authors of papers asking for ratings on a consensus scale. He also used several volunteers to rate climate abstracts. The reliability problems came to light with the first release. The match between scientists ratings and the volunteers was poor. Were similar issues lurking behind the paper’s headline conclusion?
It is meta-data that would answer such questions Shollenberger has now come into possession. This implies serious weaknesses that could come to light with analysis as the reason for the threat of lawsuits.
The oft-repeated claim of 97% consensus appears to be serious trouble.