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Fighting fire with words

04 Dec 2019 | News Roundup

The CBC reports on the latest UN “we’re on fire” report, from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) annual Emissions Gap Report. “The science is pretty clear, and very frightening”, said some bureaucrat with a verbose title (specifically “head of strategy, climate and planning and policy for the UNEP DTU (Technical University of Denmark) Partnership”). Apparently we’re going to see “warming of 3.2 C in less than 100 years” unless we talk the crisis to death. Or rather write it to death; according to the aforementioned bureaucrat only five G20 nations have written down their insincere promise to meet their Paris targets and “It has to be not just verbal but some kind of written commitment”. Since nobody’s keeping their word, it’s a bit hard to see the point of writing it down. Unless you mistake words for deeds and verbiage for achievement. If so, there’s a future for you in the UN bureaucracy.

For some decades now climate alarmists have had the wind at their backs in public debate. There is barely a politician anywhere who dares not bow to orthodoxy, and most scientists who dispute some or all of what shrill activists say keep their heads down, especially young ones with a career to preserve. And yet every time they win an argument, they turn around and look for another one they can win instead of doing something useful with their victory.

As this newsletter and many other people have repeatedly noted, one difficulty is that their preferred remedies don’t hold up well to scrutiny. Things like windmills and solar power don’t perform as well as they need to if they’re to replace fossil fuels. And the scale of the problem, to hear Al Gore or Greta Thunberg tell it, is so vast that small measures are worse than useless. But shouldn’t that situation lead to an even more resolute determination to find and implement practical ideas?

Instead it triggers a curious reflex determination to make yet more promises, utter yet more warnings, issue yet more rallying cries and set even more ambitious targets than the ones nobody is meeting anyway. Why, there’s a new “Conference of the Parties” this week in Madrid at which nations will be told that next year they must “submit new or updated national climate action plans, referred to as Nationally-Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’.” Surely the sane approach would be to insist that they carry out the ones they already made rather than hailing “a logistical marvel… a positive, collectivist gesture”.

If someone said they were going to fly around the world just by flapping their arms and then didn’t get as far as the sidewalk, who would say the next step was to promise to fly to the moon? Yet when we can’t reach Paris just by flapping our gums, thousands of well-paid public servants, academics and activists expend a great deal of fuel getting to some posh spot to promise to soar past Paris on great gusts of wind.

Once again it’s hard not to allege something fundamentally unserious about their world view.

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