For another indication of the yawning gap between words and deeds, consider that a mere two days after the IPCC released its report Joe Biden publicly beseeched Saudi Arabia to boost oil production to help get US gasoline prices down. Priorities you see. Meanwhile the politicians are going to save us in three months when COP26 is to be held in Glasgow (high at time of writing 18C, with rain, but predicted to soar to 17C tomorrow). And while those of us who play insider climate baseball toss around terms like IPCC and AR6 and COP26 as though they were important, it’s worth pointing out that the 26 in the latter indicates that it will be the 26th lavish international gabfest by thousands of people who claim they know exactly what to do and always have. In which case it is not unfair to ask why they are not doing it. Can it be that you’re all about strutting and preening at taxpayer expense with the rest of the great and good because you don’t really think there’s a crisis requiring you to stay home, roll up your sleeves and do something difficult, painful and necessary?
There has been considerable palaver about whether to hold the conference online or in person. But remarkably little about why to hold it at all. To quote Marvin the Paranoid Android again, when Zaphod tries to schmooze him by promising “a whole new life stretching out in front of you”, “Oh, not another one.”
Seriously. With all the policy proposals floating around (or like Britain’s gas boiler ban, sinking like the Titanic) or already implemented, with all the ARs and COPs stretching back to 1990, with the science apparently settled since at least that date subject to constant revision that always makes things worse, what’s left to talk about? What are they going to accomplish on the 26th try that has eluded them so far?
What do they not know, or not agree on, or not have plans to do, or actually mean it now, before or after AR6 WG1, that they will know, or agree on, or have plans to do, or actually mean it, after a week and a half of high living and high aspirations in Glasgow from Nov. 1 through Nov. 12, 2021, to which a lot of people will travel in jet airplanes? And where, to underline the seriousness of the climate crisis, temperatures at time of writing are threatening to soar to 17C, but in November typically gets to about 10C with, believe it or not, rain more days than not.
Well, one goal that seems to be gaining momentum is to scrap the target of limiting increases to 1.5C and go instead with 2C to placate China, which is apparently asserting climate leadership by burning immense amounts of coal and rejecting binding targets. And one could not find a better example of Santayana’s “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim”. Or the process whereby diplomacy starts by seeking agreements to achieve goals and ends by seeking goals to achieve agreements.