A lack of interest in Doha

Perhaps you have heard that delegates from around the world have gathered in Doha to discuss what to do about the climate problem. Perhaps you hope that something worthwhile will come out of the negotiations.

While I certainly do hope that something worthwhile is achieved by the delegates at Doha, I can’t seem to garner much interest in the efforts of the United Nations to deal with climate change.

Maybe it is the optics of holding talks on climate change in the country with the highest, by far, GHG emissions per captia.

Maybe it is the fact that even at this early stage in the negotiations there are already calls to delay any serious attempts to reduce emissions until next year’s meeting.

Or maybe it is the fact that after 18 of these yearly gatherings put on by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change the prospects for an outcome that might effectively address the problem seems as far away as ever.

Or am I missing something. Is my pessimism and lack of interest unjustified? I would like that to be true. I just cannot convince my self that it is.

Comments:

  1. flying to climate conference is like a) driving a car to a bicycle rally b) talking of fiscal responsibility in the stock market c) claiming there's plenty of fish in overfished areas d) protecting species but not their environments e) fitting slicks for a trip on gravel road f) stating the regulations on pollution are obstructing free market g) ...more? Are these too strong/mild analogs?

    To me, Rio+20, and Copenhagen were the last chances to keep the +2°C limit. Did not happen. So, the next conferences should be about limiting the rise to 3°C-4°C, and about which ports can be used during the transition to +6m ASL. Of course some say that there's no proof CAGW will stop there, so delay until +25m ASL may be expected.

  2. The meeting is a total waste of time and resources. It is sustained by two things:

    - while the meetings continue, the rest of the pol system doesn't need to much bother think about any of this, and if anyone asks they can say "oh, well, Doha". So its a great excuse for doing nothing.

    - meanwhile, the attendees get to have a good time eating and drinking for free at our expense, while staying in a 5* hotel. So they have every incentive to keep up the farce. Plus, they get to network and look for their next job.

      • Maybe I'm totally naive - I don't discount that possibility - but I don't think either point is fair.

        Is there really any evidence of anyone using these conferences to avoid taking meaningful action? Has this excuse actually been used anywhere, and if it has is there any evidence that an alternative excuse wouldn't have been emnployed as readily?

        Do you really believe that the majority of delegates aren't there in good faith? I know of a couple of people who have attended these conferences, albeit from the 'outside', and I don't think they sound like much of a junket for anyone involved. Is there really enough incentive there for people to keep this process going purely for their own self-interests? I can understand that they might be keeping them going because the effort of doing something different is too great and the thought of doing nothing too dismal, but that seems a different argument.

  3. I don't think it requires this level of cynicism to be pessimistic about the COP process.

    I think if we do avert catastrophe it will involve the US and China agreeing to something and everybody else going along. It is hard to imagine anybody else objecting. That's how power works, like it or not.

    Accordingly, what happens outside those countries is relatively secondary, though the rest of us can put pressure on those two in various ways. Unfortunately, these are easily the two most inward-looking countries. I don't think that's coincidence. Both the lack of interest in the rest of the world and the power stem largely from sheer size.

  4. What happened to the wonderful animation on inaction? Just wanted to add another (this was Copenhagen), The Now Show - Dr Seuss at Copenhagen

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_RlKxz_ymQ

      • thank you, good to know. Some good stuff in there, just catching up with Sagan's "Demon-haunted world"

        Which reminds me, I remember hearing that Reagan said of his science report, something like "I have read it and I do not understand it," justifying the end of the Office of Technology Assessment. A good reason to heap scorn on something, isn't it, that one can't comprehend it (and usually don't want to). Another piece of Reagan lore which may be distorted: "you seen one tree, you seen 'em all."

      • Come to think of it, the current crop of clever denial (witness one Tom Scharf at RC and elsewhere) is intentionally larded with clever and sophisticated. Those who can understand neither the original work nor its distortion feel justified in choosing the one they prefer.

      • Exactly. That's why, in my opinion, a multi-faceted educational campaign is in order. I've mentioned it before (don't know if it was here or in mt's old "In It" blog or even elsewhere) but Susan is exactly right. All I'd add is that it's not necessarily ability to understand but just as likely to be (among my many skeptical but intelligent and well-educated associates) lack of time to devote to understanding. I guess that is still, in a sense, "can't understand" but the distinction is an important one.

        My dealings are with engineers. These individuals have taken lots of math, lots of physics, and have shown the wherewithal to, upon graduation, sit for first the EIT (engineer in training) test and then, after sufficient experience, the PE (professional engineer) exams. So their intellectual ability to understand the rudiments of climate physics is certainly there.

        BUT they also have families, demanding jobs, etc. AND they are making a living (in my company and those with which we interact) dealing with things related to the built environment and hence aligned with the growth paradigm. They may be all for LEED certification of buildings, HERS ratings for houses, etc. but, in the end, they want things to be built. I can't say that I'm immune to this predisposition.

        Thus, as Susan so perceptively points out, when they don't have the time to delve into the matter from first principles or are not led to an acceptance of the consensus view by broad concepts, they'd prefer to believe the BAU proponents. And they tend to be influential in their social groups, etc.

        I've been following this issue for, I guess, five years or so. In that time, I've seen approximately no minds changed and no progress made. The opposite, in fact, if anything. I read an article (I wish I could find it) by a liberal guy with a conservative friend who was expounding on the irony of Obama, painted as a rube with no experience applicable to the job as compared with the consummate businessman/organizational turnaround expert Romney, absolutely waxing Romney in terms of goal oriented organizing in every measurable way.

        The skills exist to educate and organize intelligent people. It's time to put them to work.

  5. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, December 2, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered


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