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Code snooze

18 Aug 2021 | News Roundup

UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement that was shrill even by his standards, including “Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 report is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.” Now this remark is rather obvious rubbish: The report does not say anything about billions of people being at immediate risk. On the contrary, as Roger Pielke Jr. notes, it walks back earlier IPCC statements that the ludicrous RCP8.5 scenario was “most likely” and now rates it as improbable (it is in fact impossible). As Pielke also points out, to cover its flaming fundament the IPCC now claims not to estimate the likelihood of various scenarios (so much for settled science), then does anyway. But Guterres knows people won’t read the report, which he probably hadn’t read either, so he doesn’t care what it says, only what he can get headlines by claiming it says. Including a bit about how the fossil fuel industry is going to “destroy our planet”. And sure enough, a news story promptly hailed “The end of the world according to the UN climate report” and presented all the worst-case scenarios as imminent. And yet nobody really cares.

One gets the feeling that even the journalists are, in fact, bored with the subject. There were huge screaming headlines for a day or two calling the audience greedy stupid monsters or some such, and then they went right back to other issues. For instance the ultra-woke, all-climate-all-the-time Guardian’s “The Guardian today” email for August 12 featured “Exclusive / Gavin Williamson should be sacked over exam failures, says Keir Starmer” followed by stories about Covid, child maltreatment, the sale of some icing from Charles and Diana’s wedding cake for £1,850 and the arrest of two boys for stabbing a man to death. Climate? What climate? We got Diana’s cake to discuss.

It’s as though the whole thing were more in the nature of an obligatory ritual, like church attendance for the average person 50 years ago, than something emotionally engaging let alone intellectually persuasive. Even the Canadian Green Party’s “‘IPCC findings must strengthen our resolve to do all we can as a global community to avert the worst impacts of global warming,’ says Green Party Leader Annamie Paul” just feels like going through the motions.

Likewise after a fiery blast of press releases about saving the planet, governments including Canada’s went back to the usual flurry of emails about handouts for this, that and the other, some of them to be sure justified by the climate emergency but not on a scale to indicate urgency or serious intention to act, just to get reelected.

After which they will presumably act with steely-eyed determination. Although not judging by the way they sauntered into action, announcing two days after AR6 was released that “Canadians are already witnessing and experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change” and thus as “work continues toward the development” of our National Adaptation Strategy, a report building on “a first round of consultations” with the usual checklist including aboriginals and youth paves the way for “launching adaptation advisory tables led by environmental organizations, adaptation experts, Indigenous Peoples, and other key partners, including youth, from across the country. Those partners will have the mandate to create a framework for concrete adaptation action, with aspirational goals and advice on how to face climate change.” Which at least beat the NDP’s indignant “REALITY CHECK: Climate crisis: Justin Trudeau worse than Harper” which suggests a bad case of insider baseball vision to anyone who cares, which they don’t.

If you really thought the world was ending, you wouldn’t be making a consultation layer cake or raving about some guy who was prime minister three elections ago. And then there’s President Biden getting hit from both sides for being sufficiently committed to climate action as to attack the American oil industry, only to call for more production by undemocratic regimes and, to give it a Canadian angle, blocking pipelines from their friendly democratic northern neighbour into the bargain. Whatever it is, it’s not serious on climate.

P.S. One of our readers commented about a widely reprinted story that often bore the same headline “U.N. sounds ‘deafening’ warning on climate change” that “I now have the PERFECT excuse for not responding… I’ve been deafened by the deafening warning…”

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