Don’t Expect Results at a Climate Conference

December 9th, 2011 at 3:56 pm | 9 Comments |

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Another biennial international climate negotiation jamboree wraps up today.

What does the world have to show for it? Durban shouldn’t turn out to be the belly flop that Copenhagen was in 2009. Other than that, not much. See you in two years and all that.

Even a few greens are wondering if trekking to these multi-national climate hoo-hahs is worth it. A Pace University blogger mused this week that one round-trip air ticket from the East Coast to Durban would result in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 8 tons of carbon dioxide—equivalent, he noted with apologies for the pointy jab at his colleagues who made the trip—to cruising about for a year at the helm of a very large SUV.

To be sure, a high old time was had by those who are convinced that emissions of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere are not trapping heat in the atmosphere. Lord Christopher Monckton, holder of a peerage in the climate denial clown car, parachuted into Durban—literally—to tweak morose greens about how right he thinks he is.

Is there a better alternative to talk-a-thons that attempt to produce an intricate treaty addressing a very complex, long-range problem that 193 nations can agree on? Such agreements can only come about through a great deal of advance work and legwork to build domestic backing.

At this point, it looks a better bet for the time being to break the problem into more manageable chunks. The International Energy Agency has suggested acting now to reduce emissions, rather than wait for a treaty nirvana that might never arrive.

For the U.S., that means Congress finding some spare time away from political gamesmanship to work on energy legislation that reduces emissions, delivers important side benefits, and that members of both parties can support, such as the Portman-Shaheen industrial energy efficiency bill.

It also means finding middle ground on shale gas and its promise to displace a significant chunk of coal-fired power generation by tapping gas reserves with production methods that follow best practices for keeping contaminants away from drinking water. EPA’s draft study indicating that hydrocarbons might have entered groundwater near a gas production zone in Wyoming is a cautionary sign that gas and water issues must be taken seriously.

And, it means Republicans pulling back from a flirtation with anti-science populism and Democrats taking calcium supplements to fortify their spinal columns.

Over time, we could even reach a point where most in the political class could agree on a common set of facts about climate change, the necessary foundation for an informed debate on what to do about it—such as a big-bang tax reform bargain that includes a carbon tax fully offset with payroll and/or income tax reductions.

We’re not there now, and until we are, don’t expect much except talk from international climate gabfests.

Recent Posts by Jim DiPeso



9 Comments so far ↓

  • balconesfault

    For the U.S., that means Congress finding some spare time away from political gamesmanship to work on energy legislation that reduces emissions, delivers important side benefits, and that members of both parties can support, such as the Portman-Shaheen industrial energy efficiency bill.

    I’m sorry – but the chances of a bill that strengthens the DOE passing the current House of Representatives is mighty slim. Meanwhile, all it would take would be Obama to endorse the bill for everyone in the GOP – probably even including Rob Portman – to abandon it.

    Right now I’ll just be happy if Congress doesn’t force energy inefficient incandescent bulbs down everyone’s throats.

  • Secessionist

    Unsurprisingly, Jim DiPeso manages to insert the standard bromides:

    …climate denial clown car….
    …anti-science populism…

    Those meaningless labels (denier and anti-science) are invariably wedded to nothing but the most superficial talking points wherever they appear.

    Many of these climate alarmists seem to genuinely believe their own propaganda. They repeat their bromides and talking points so often the only reasonable explanation for the repetition is that they must believe them.

    In actuality, many people find the case for a potentially catastrophic threat from AGW that warrants an immediate and draconian policy response rather unconvincing. It is simply not true to suggest otherwise.

    Consider, for example, that Canada, Russia and Japan are now backing away from the Kyoto treaty.

    If the potential threat from AGW is so obvious and compelling, why would they do that?

    Since when do clown car “denialists” and people who “don’t believe in science” call the shots in Canada, Russia and Japan???

    They don’t, of course, call the shots in those countries.

    So while terms like “denier” and “anti-science” have good propaganda value as smear labels, they have no actual truth value.

    • balconesfault

      “climate alarmists …”

      Oops. Pot – kettle – black.

      Consider, for example, that Canada, Russia and Japan are now backing away from the Kyoto treaty.

      If the potential threat from AGW is so obvious and compelling, why would they do that?

      I’m going to be kind, and assume you’re just not reading responses to this question in other places in this forum.

      Canada, Russia, and Japan, have approximately the same combined population as the US. Yet we produce over 50% more CO2.

      Unfortunately, meaningful progress on Climate Change will require coordinated action between nations. When the major country with far and away the highest CO2 emissions per capita stridently rejects participation in the coordinated action, that gives developing nations an excuse to dodge the issue, and industrialized nations that want to participate a disincentive due to the competitive disadvantage it creates for their economies.

      The US is leading on the issue. Unfortunately, we are leading on a pathway that will guarantee a hotter future for our planet, potentially a catastrophically hotter future.

      • Secessionist

        I’m traveling and out of time until next week, but just to quickly respond.

        1) Jim Depeso used the “denier” pejorative in his article and also invoked the shopworn talking point “they don’t believe in science,” so I simply responded in kind by using the word alarmist.

        2) My point in bringing up Russia, Canada and Japan was to give an example of people outside the GOP who reject the AGW conventional wisdom, or at least parts of it.

        In political discourse in the United States, the AGW conventional wisdom is that the world needs to take immediate collective action against AGW and that only deniers who don’t believe in science think otherwise.

        The fact that authorities in other nations are moving away from the Kyoto protocol shows this isn’t true, or at least not entirely true.

        Now, if they are moving away from Kyoto because of competitive advantage considerations, well then that just shows what many people on my side have been saying all along — the cost of these carbon measures far outweighs the benefits for such a dubious threat as AGW.

        Returning to the other point — the falsehood of the talking point that only “deniers” who “don’t believe in science” reject the AGW orthodoxy — it is really amazing how easy it is to find authorities outside the United States and thus outside the GOP base who do exactly that.

        I found this 2010 research paper just yesterday that calls for new approaches to the world’s energy problems because the Kyoto protocol has not produced “discernible results.” The researchers do not list the non-participation of the United States as a reason results were not produced.

        The paper was also published by an English rather than an American university, and most of the authors are not Americans, much less members of the GOP base.

        ==========

        Climate policy, as it has been understood and practised by many governments of the world under the Kyoto Protocol approach, has failed to produce any discernable real world reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases in fifteen years. The underlying reason for this is that the UNFCCC/Kyoto model was structurally flawed and doomed to fail because it systematically misunderstood the nature of climate change as a policy issue between 1985 and 2009. However, the currently dominant approach has acquired immense political momentum because of the quantities of political capital sunk into it. But in any case the UNFCCC/Kyoto model of climate policy cannot continue because it crashed in late 2009. The Hartwell Paper sets and reviews this context; but doing so is not its sole or primary purpose.

        ==========

        eprints.lse.ac [dot] uk/27939/1/HartwellPaper_English_version.pdf

    • Ogemaniac


      Many of these climate alarmists seem to genuinely believe their own propaganda. ”

      No, we believe the facts. Only in baggerdenierland are propaganda and truth conflated. Here in the real world, they are not. The science is clear. I am sorry that it undermines your world-view, but you just have to grow up and deal with it.

      “In actuality, many people find the case for a potentially catastrophic threat from AGW that warrants an immediate and draconian policy response rather unconvincing. It is simply not true to suggest otherwise.”

      Who suggests otherwise? Of course a minority of people, particularly Fox Brand Kool-Aid infused dittoheads, believe things that are not true. That doesn’t mean we should listen to them, or give them anything other than our utmost contempt.

      “Consider, for example, that Canada, Russia and Japan are now backing away from the Kyoto treaty. ”

      A global climate treaty is a classic prisoners’ dilemma. If you don’t know what I mean, drop everything you plan to do for the next week and study game theory. If you do know what I mean, then you know how to solve it. Again, the solution is simply something that conflicts with your free market worldview, and hence you feel as though you must reject it.

      “So while terms like “denier” and “anti-science” have good propaganda value as smear labels, they have no actual truth value.”

      Hogwash. Anyone who says that every major scientific organization on earth is wrong is in fact anti-science and a denier. That means you. Get over it and cure your ignorance. The first step would to be to isolate yourself from right-wing disinformation and propoganda.

      • theendisfar

        “Anyone who says that every major scientific organization on earth is wrong is in fact anti-science and a denier.”

        You seem to have a misunderstanding, as many Believers do. It is not so much the organization that is wrong, it is their methods and conclusions, or rather lack there of.

        You see the most ardent skeptic is ALWAYS the best scientist. The so-called ‘major’ scientific organizations are not following the Scientific Method if they are claiming AGW a significant reality and the CAUSE of changes in climate. If they were following the Scientific Method, then they would be able to supply the most vicious and obtuse ‘denier’ with their methods and conclusions to follow. Once the skeptic/denier followed the methods and reached the same conclusion, they would not longer be a skeptic.

        Problem is that the ‘major’ scientific organizations have not produced anything save conjecture to follow, which require great leaps Faith to accomplish. Not very repeatable.

        BTW – The GreenHouse Effect acts in no way like a GreenHouse. It is terrible misnomer, it should be called the Emissitivity Effect and by understanding this you will quickly come to realize that Convection is what controls the Troposphere’s temperature, not any misnamed “GreenHouse Gases” save water vapor (Albedo/Clouds, Convection, and Latent Heat of Vaporization).

        You would be wise to get over your ignorance before suggesting that course to others. How about separation from propaganda and disinformation, no matter its origin (i.e. Left, Top, Bottom, Extreme, Mild, etc), to start?

        The End is Far

    • Velocity

      “Many of these climate alarmists seem to genuinely believe their own propaganda.”

      um, no, we believe the data. The same data you choose to ignore.

  • Ray_Harwick

    For the U.S., that means Congress finding some spare time away from political gamesmanship to work on energy legislation that reduces emissions, delivers important side benefits, and that members of both parties can support, such as the Portman-Shaheen industrial energy efficiency bill.

    Thanks for injecting a joke so we’d have at least a little amusement.

    Cue the Keystone propaganda footage.

  • VLG

    Normally I just lurk here but for those who don’t know, youtube user potholer54 contacted Monckton over his claims, the result was a part of a 5 part series called “Monckton’s Bunkum”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbW-aHvjOgM&feature=channel_video_title

    Monckton responded, indirectly:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/18/monckton-answers-a-troll/#comments

    then gets nuked from orbit by potholer54, just to be sure:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9K74fzNAUq4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xx5h1KNMAA&feature=related