Friday, 30 October 2009

mixed-up confusion ... XXVIII

Up, Down.

I got mixed up confusion, man, it's a-killin' me.
     Bob Dylan, Mixed-Up Confusion, 1962.
I ain't afraid of confusion no matter how thick.
     Bob Dylan, Most of the Time, 1989.

not quite true in my case ... it's just no good being afraid when everything has become confused? ... dunno

Kagiso Lesego MolopeKagiso Lesego MolopeI am reading Kagiso Lesego Molope's book Dancing in the Dust, written so spontaneously (it seems) that a coherent vision emerges almost in spite of herself, this is more complicated than it seems - the book is full of small contradictions and unexplained shifts in attitude and emotion and a superficial sort of feminist ideology, but when I force myself to accept those inconsistencies then ... a complete human being seems to emerge from the murk ... I force myself because I think this vision of hers is somehow authentic, who can say? this is very back-handed complimenting I know ... her other book The Mending Season is not so easy to come by, hopefully I will get a copy eventually

I found the story of Serah Njoya a while ago, now she is back in the news again as this fellow, Thomas Cholmondeley, the murderer of her husband Robert Njoya Mbugua, is let out of jail after just a few months ...
Serah NjoyaSerah NjoyaSerah NjoyaSerah NjoyaRobert Njoya's widow Serah Waithera Njoya (centre), brother Joel Mwangi Mbugua (left) and sister Teresia Wangeci KiariaSerah NjoyaSerah Njoya
"I can't believe that he is free. There is nothing I can do. This is beyond me."
     Serah Njoya.

two facets of the climate debate: in the States the coal 'lobbyists' are caught red-handed playing dirty tricks and effectively get away with it, and in k-k-Canada there is what you would have to call an 'inspired' confusion around what we will do, or more likely not do, at Copenhagen in December ... both issues take a lot of words to get across ... boring ... enervating ... I can hardly rouse myself

and then a third facet on my mind which is the maggotty pundits & politicians who collect their cheques and raise their children and treat their wives and husbands well for the most part I suppose - and do shit beyond appearances about climate change ... even Ed Markey it seems to me ... oh well ...

looks to be the usual sort of cabal: Jack Bonner, is an 'adjunct professor' at American University in Washington DC, and runs a cozy course every year (by the look of it) where he cherry-picks 'associates', whom he then browbeats into doing what is necessary to generate 'good letters' in so called 'grasstops' campaigns, you can see some of the students in the C-Span videos 1994: Grassroots Lobbying Strategies, 1996: Grassroots Lobbying, & 2006: Mobilization of Third Party Groups, not a terribly preposessing crowd, more like desperate & vulnerable high-school graduates looking for something a few steps up from flipping burgers at MacDonald's ... and Jack makes a nice markup eh?

anyway ... the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity - ACCCE hires The Hawthorn Group, a 'kingmaker' PR firm, to sell their side of the coal mining story, and Hawthorn sub-contracts our Jack Bonner and his white-collar sweatshop, Jack Bonner & Associates, for some of it, they step wayyyy over the line, Ed Markey gets wind of it, calls them on the mat, nothing happens except that presumably Jack Bonner has to lay low for a while I guess - some clients may be embarassed to be 'associated'
Jack BonnerJack Bonner 1994Jack Bonner 1994Jack Bonner 1994Jack Bonner 1996Jack Bonner 1996Jack Bonner 1996Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner
John Ashford, The Hawthorn GroupSteve Miller ACCCESteve Miller ACCCESteve Miller ACCCESteve Miller ACCCEit's only the wee little fish that get snagged, after Jack Bonner there are a few more still on the scene: John Ashford of The Hawthorn Group, another ex-disc-jockey, Rush Limbaugh Mark II I guess but better educated, and Steve Miller, CEO of the ACCCE, here he is on YouTube: 1, 2, & 3, I say 'wee' but that must be an anatomical reference since all of 'em are at least millionaires eh?

Stephen Harper Heeeere's Harpo!this is incomplete, oh my ... I have not even touched upon the k-k-Canadian Confusion fiasco ... too bad conflagitation means 'an earnest desire', otherwise it would be perfect :-)

I have all the links in a file but I can't be bothered ... maybe later ... ok, here it is:

we have Bill C-311: An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, which calls for (a) as a long-term target, a level that is 80% below the 1990 level by the year 2050; and (b) as a medium-term target, a level that is 25% below the 1990 level by the year 2020,

and we have Climate Leadership, Economic Prosperity: Final report on an economic study of greenhouse gas targets and policies for Canada from the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation, analyzing the economic impacts of 20 per cent below the 2006 level by 2020,

and then the pundit jizz: from Jeffrey Simpson, two articles reporting on the same tables (one wonders if the Globe's news manager accidentaly assigned the story twice?) from Shawn McCarthy: Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques, and John Ibbitson: With eyes open to cost of climate change, it's time to decide, a sober-sided Editorial: Targets set without a plan, and costs that are perilous, a series of can't-be-dones from Jim Prentice, Rob Renner, & Bill Boyd: Climate change report 'irresponsible,' Prentice says, and finally, Rex Murphy: Don't turn up the heat on the West, interesting that when our Rex is talking sense he tones down the verbiage?

Pembina/Suzuki: 20% below 2006 by 2020,
Bill C-311: 25% below 1990 by 2020 & 80% below 1990 by 2050,
Mark Lynas: 60% by 2030 & 90% by 2050,
Gwynne Dyer: 40% by 2020 or 2030 & 80 by 2050,
Lester Brown's Plan B: 80% by 2020,
George Monbiot: 90% by 2030,
The Stern Report: 70% by 2050,
Marina Silva/Brasil: 20-40% below 1995.

Lord dyin' dancin' diddlin' crucified! - confused yet?

"You know, you girls have everything. You're tall and short and slim and stout and blonde and brunette. And that's just the kind of a girl I crave. Why, you've got beauty, charm, money! You have got money, haven't you? Because if you haven't, we can quit right now."

here's the Marx brothers starting with Harpo (above right) then Chico Groucho & Gummo (below), Zeppo to follow later maybe, Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner, & Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd:
Federal Environment Minister Jim PrenticeFederal Environment Minister Jim PrenticeFederal Environment Minister Jim PrenticeAlberta Environment Minister Rob RennerAlberta Environment Minister Rob RennerAlberta Environment Minister Rob RennerSaskatchewan Energy Minister Bill BoydSaskatchewan Energy Minister Bill BoydSaskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd
"So now I tell-a you how we fly to America. The first time-a we start-a, we get-a half way across when we run out of gasoline and we gotta go back. Then I take-a twice as much-a gasoline. This time we were just about to land, maybe three feet, when what do you think?
here we go, Rex can be ZeppoWe run out of gasoline again. And back we go again and get-a more gas. This time I take-a plenty gas. Well-a we get-a half way over ... when what do you think-a happen? We forgot-a the airplane. So we gotta sit down and we talk it over. Then I get-a the great idea. We no take-a gasoline. We no take-a the airplane. We take-a steamship. And that, friends ... is how we fly across the ocean."

"I've been around so long I can remember Doris Day before she was a virgin."

as for me it is something like this, but cigarettes not booze:
André Dahmer Malvados - Ressaca Dos Infernos
I've got a hangover from hell, don't charge me for the drawing.
The room is a mess and a little bearded man is sleeping on the floor (I don't remember his name, but yesterday he told me he that he was adopted).
On the door of the fridge, the certainty that I had a bad day.
Sorry about the bathroom.

one amusing bit from Real Climate cheers me up: An open letter to Steve Levitt, being an authoritative excoriation of the author of Superfreakonomics.

a-and some good news from Marina Silva: "Não há como fugir do aproveitamento energético do rio Xingu", diz Marina/"There is no way to run away from exploiting the energy of the Xingu river," which is a realistic attitude towards Belo Monte (at last!) it seems to me, and she also remains optimistic about Copenhagen (God bless her!) even if her target of 20-40% reduction fron 1995 emission levels introduces yet another (confusing?) base line

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.

     Bob Dylan, Every Grain of Sand, 1981, YouTube Live 1984.

Well, I'm lookin' for some answers but I don't know who to ask.

1-1. Convicted Kenya aristocrat freed, BBC, 23 October 2009.
1-2. The killer spared – Would a black killer be spared in the UK?, Jillo Kadida & Noah Cheploen, May 15 2009.
     1a. YouTube news 1, 2, 3.

2. "Não há como fugir do aproveitamento energético do rio Xingu", diz Marina, Fabíola Munhoz, 29/10/2009.

3-1 Once again, climate-change promises Ottawa can't keep, Jeffrey Simpson, Oct. 28 2009.
3-2 Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques, Shawn McCarthy, Oct. 29 2009.
3-3 With eyes open to cost of climate change, it's time to decide, John Ibbitson, Oct. 29 2009.
3-4 Targets set without a plan, and costs that are perilous, Editorial, Oct. 29 2009.
3-5 Climate change report 'irresponsible,' Prentice says, Bill Curry & Dawn Walton, Oct. 30 2009.
3-6 Don't turn up the heat on the West, Rex Murphy, Oct. 31 2009.

Convicted Kenya aristocrat freed, BBC, 23 October 2009.

Thomas Cholmondeley (L), son of the fifth Baron Delamere and descendant of Kenya's most prominent early settler, in Nairobi High Court on Thursday 14 May 2009

A white Kenyan aristocrat convicted of the manslaughter of a black poacher on his estate has been freed five months into an eight-month prison sentence. Thomas Cholmondeley was convicted in May for shooting Robert Njoya in 2006, having spent the previous three years in jail awaiting trial.

He was released for good behaviour and because he had less than six months to serve, prison officials said. Mr Njoya's widow was reported as saying said she could not believe he was free.

At the trial, the judge cut the murder charge to manslaughter, saying Cholmondeley did not show "malice aforethought". The Eton-educated 40-year-old shot Mr Njoya who had been hunting on Cholmondeley's 55,000-acre Soysambu ranch near Lake Naivasha in Kenya's Great Rift Valley.

Widow Serah Njoya said: "I can't believe that he is free. There is nothing I can do. This is beyond me," AFP news agency reported her as saying.

The case, involving the great-grandson of the third Baron Delamere, one of Kenya's first major white settlers more than a century ago, attracted huge media attention.

The killing was the second time in just over a year that Cholmondeley had fatally shot a black man.

In 2005 Cholmondeley admitted shooting a Maasai ranger, but the case was dropped owing to insufficient evidence. That decision provoked outrage and mass protests among the Maasai community.

The killer spared – Would a black killer be spared in the UK?, Jillo Kadida & Noah Cheploen, May 15 2009.

The shame that becometh, a result of Kenya laws as old as the protectorate under the white settlers and the shame that turns to luck for the white aristocrat, while the black widow languishes in pain of loosing her beloved husband, and here the mother of the killer has a good laugh.

LADY ANNE DELAMERE, Tom Cholmondeley’s mother

Kind, intelligent, articulate and, of course, very tall. This is how she described her son. They portray a mother’s love. In an interview with the Nation, Lady Ann recalled the day she received the news of her son’s arrest. She was in hospital in England, where she had gone for a cataract operation.

The message from her sister-in-law, that Tom had been arrested for a killing, again, was the worst news she could have got from home. She says that she loves Tom very much and believes he is not a murderer. Even in the midst of the tension-filled murder trial, Lady Ann has a sense of humour.

“Tom is my only live child out of five tries — I am not a good cow — and I love him very much,” she said. But she says of her son; “Tom “is incident-prone.” Lady Ann said that she talks to the family of Mr Robert Njoya, the man killed by her son.

“We’ve chatted in the prison courtyard with Serah Njoya. After a shy start, I asked after her children, who have now settled down and are doing well at school.” The young widow was kind to her, she says.

MRS SERAH NJOYA, Robert Njoya’s widow

“I will only be happy if justice is done and the killers punished,” Mrs Serah Njoya told the Nation a month ago. On Thursday, the man found guilty of killing her husband got off with a mere slap on the wrist – eight months in jail. Mrs Njoya looked on without betraying emotion when the judgement was delivered.

It is instructive, however, that just last week when the charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter, she displayed unusual empathy. Mrs Njoya said nothing could be gained by sentencing her husband’s killer to death and creating pain in his loved ones.

Mrs Njoya’s husband, Robert, a mason in Gilgil, was shot dead on May 10, 2006, by Tom Cholmondeley, heir to the Lord Delamere title. Aged only 31, she was robbed of a breadwinner, a husband and a companion of 10 years.

Her day starts at 5am and ends at 6pm. She does odd jobs to put food on the table for her children, Gidraph Mbugua, Michael Kamau, John Karegi and Joakim Githuku. On a good day she might make about Sh300 from her yam crop, but this once a week and after hard toil on the farm.

"Não há como fugir do aproveitamento energético do rio Xingu", diz Marina, Fabíola Munhoz, 29/10/2009.

A senadora e pré-candidata à Presidência da República pelo Partido Verde (PV), Marina Silva, disse hoje (29) que não há como o Brasil fugir da exploração sustentável de seus recursos hídricos, dentre os quais o do rio Xingu, no Pará, onde se pretende construir a usina hidrelétrica de Belo Monte.

A afirmação foi feita durante participação da senadora no lançamento de um produto da Serasa Experian, que pretende reunir informações sobre empresas e produtores rurais, quanto ao cumprimento da legislação ambiental.

Considerando as usinas hidrelétricas como fonte de energia limpa, Marina afirmou que o País tem que aproveitar seus rios, já que precisa apresentar ao mundo metas de redução de emissões de gases causadores do efeito estufa. Para ela, é preciso, porém, que a construção de hidrelétricas preveja um Programa de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (PDS) que dê governança sustentável a esses empreendimentos.

"Belo Monte é um projeto complexo. Se já tivesse sido feito um estudo sobre a necessidade de energia e de conservação do meio ambiente na região, seria possível a implantação da usina de forma sustentável", afirmou.

De acordo com a senadora, a elaboração de um PDS para a obra, prevendo a mitigação e a prevenção de possíveis impactos socioambientais da usina de Belo Monte, deve ser vista, não como entrave à realização do empreendimento, mas como exigência e necessidade.

"Não temos como preterir os recursos hídricos. Temos que resolver o problema no mérito, com planos de desenvolvimento sustentável, criação de unidades de conservação e criação de ferramentas que permitam implantar tudo isso", disse.

Nessa mesma linha de raciocínio, a senadora também defendeu as obras na BR-163- entre Santarém (PA) e Cuiabá (MT), dizendo que, embora o PDS do projeto ainda não tenha sido efetivado, está prevista a criação de áreas de conservação da floresta amazônica na região de abrangência da estrada.

"Não se pode pegar o que ainda não foi feito dentre o previsto no plano e generalizar, dizendo que ele não será cumprido", argumentou.

COP 15

Com relação a suas expectativas para a Conferência das Partes (COP 15), encontro internacional que discutirá, em dezembro, um acordo global para o enfrentamento das mudanças climáticas, Marina se mostrou otimista.

"Entendo que a preparação do Brasil para o evento não avançou, mas a entrada dos Estados Unidos nessa discussão multilateral já é um ponto favorável", afirmou.

Ela ponderou, porém que os países em desenvolvimento deverão assumir metas de redução de emissões de carbono de acordo com suas responsabilidades e em respeito à equidade entre as nações. De acordo com a senadora, as metas de redução das emissões brasileiras deverão ser estabelecidas entre 20% e 40%, com relação ao ano base de 1995.

O governo brasileiro já sinalizou que irá se comprometer com a redução de 80% do seu desmatamento, considerado a principal causa das emissões brasileiras. "É preciso que o Brasil tenha metas não só para as florestas, mas também para energia, agricultura e indústria, sendo que essas são perfeitamente factíveis", destacou Marina.

Once again, climate-change promises Ottawa can't keep, Jeffrey Simpson, Oct. 28 2009.

The government must know its policies will fail. But if the Conservatives expect people can be fooled or will tune out because they don't care or the issue's too complicated, why not?

We will all be hearing much, should we choose to listen, about the Canadian government's target heading into the international climate-change negotiations in Copenhagen.

The target is a 20-per-cent reduction in Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020. Forget it. That won't and can't happen – at least not the way the Conservatives are suggesting.

It's hard to know whom the Conservatives are fooling with this target. Other countries' experts know it won't be achieved with the policies on offer. Canadian experts know the number is for headline consumption only. The government must know its own policies will fail.

But if you can fool most people some of the time, or some people all of the time, or if you expect most people will not be paying attention because they do not care or the issue is too complicated, why not?

If you doubt these strong assertions, turn elsewhere in today's Globe and Mail, or go online, to read about the most comprehensive study yet of Canada's climate-change policy leading up to Copenhagen.

The study was financed by the Toronto-Dominion Bank, framed by the Suzuki Foundation and Pembina Institute, and done by the country's leading climate-change-simulation company, MJKA of Vancouver.

The study shows convincingly that the government's policies will not work and, as such, confirms previous studies done by other organizations. The bank, now housing the country's leading economic “think tank” (TD Economics), doesn't endorse the study, but finds its analysis and conclusions “robust,” which means highly credible.

What would it take to meet the 20-per-cent target? A whole lot more than the government is suggesting. What would be the cost to the economy of doing more? It depends how aggressive Canada wants to be. But if 20 per cent remains the target, then necessary measures would take a mere 0.16 per cent off economic growth yearly from 2010 to 2020.

Put another way, there would be a small overall national economic cost, and significant interregional economic flows from fossil-fuel-producing Alberta and Saskatchewan to other parts of Canada. But, even after those interregional flows, Alberta would still experience the country's strongest economic growth, and Canada's overall economic growth would remain strong. (The cost of doing nothing is considerable, of course, in the long term for Alberta, Canada and the world.)

Scaremongers would have to eat their words if they gave this study a fair-minded report, but so, too, would those who paint cost-free scenarios of reducing emissions.

How to hit the target? Find a price for carbon of $40 a tonne by 2011, rising to $100 a tonne by 2020, above what the government contemplates. Back that price with a series of regulations on vehicles, home efficiency, switching to lower-carbon fuels, and carbon from flaring and venting in upstream oil and gas production. Even with these and other measures, Canada will meet the 2020 target only by buying emissions credits offshore – something the government has steadfastly insisted it will not do.

Environmental groups such as Suzuki and Pembina, of course, want Canada to go beyond the 20-per-cent commitment. They won't get their way, not with this government. But then this government won't get its way with current policies.

Technological breakthroughs might help to reduce emissions in the long term, but, as the TD Bank observes, “it's not reasonable to expect that technical advances will provide a solution.” At least not by 2020 – and that includes Alberta's much-touted carbon sequestration (CCS) projects, two of which were recently announced.

If CCS projects work, they might bury carbon for a reasonable price (certainly far below the more than $700 a tonne that I wrongly reported last week). But the amount of reduction from CCS would still represent only a very small share of the province's total emissions. The rest of the measures will have to be much bolder than the ones contemplated by the government to reach its own targets, the ones Canada is taking to Copenhagen.

Once before, Canada went to a climate-change conference, at Kyoto, and made promises it could not and did not keep. It would appear a repeat performance is in the making. Or, to put things differently: new government, same script.

Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques, Shawn McCarthy, Oct. 29 2009.

Report reveals costs of taking action, now Canadians have to decide

Ottawa — Ottawa will have to lead a massive restructuring of the Canadian economy, with wealth flowing from the West to the rest of the country, if it is to meet its climate-change targets, a landmark report has concluded.

The Conservative government's goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 can be achieved, but only by limiting growth in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

This is the finding of a report, financed by the Toronto Dominion Bank and conducted by two environmental organizations, that for the first time offers a detailed regional breakdown of the economic impacts of pursuing a strategy of fighting global warming.

The report, which arrives as nations prepare to meet in Copenhagen to debate future plans to address climate change, is bound to increase tensions between provinces that rely on oil and coal production, which would have to sacrifice economic growth to meet any realistic targets, and Central Canada, which would be less affected and might even benefit.

Either through direct taxation or by capping emissions and forcing companies to buy allowances, the federal government would receive approximately $46-billion or more in revenues, which it would redistribute through spending and personal tax cuts.

In that event, Alberta's economy would be 8.5 per cent smaller in 2020 than projected under an unconstrained scenario, though it would continue to lead the country in growth through the decade, and the province would provide as much as $5-billion more in revenue than it would receive back.

The uneven regional impacts vividly illustrate Ottawa's political challenge in implementing the government's own relatively modest climate-change aspirations. In addition to the effects on Alberta, Saskatchewan would lose 2.8 per cent from its potential output. Ontario and Quebec would come out virtually unscathed, and employment growth would actually be higher in Central Canada.

The Harper government would have to move aggressively and quickly, with a range of highly interventionist policies not now planned, just to meet targets that opposition parties and environmentalists decry as too timid, the study concludes.

Meeting the more stringent standards recommended by environmentalists and many scientists would impose even more onerous burdens. Nonetheless, the report stresses, both sets of goals could be met while still preserving economic growth throughout the decade.

“While addressing climate change in Canada is certainly not going to be as easy as changing our light bulbs, it won't be as bad or economically difficult as some fear-mongers have been saying,” said Pierre Sadik, director of government relations for the David Suzuki Foundation. And it pales, he said, in comparison to the environmental and economic impact of unchecked emissions growth.

The TD Bank financed Calgary-based Pembina Institute and Vancouver's David Suzuki Foundation to produce the comprehensive report. The group contracted with respected economic consultants, M.K. Jaccard and Associates Inc., to model the impacts of climate policies; Jaccard has done similar work for the Canadian government.

TD's chief economist, Don Drummond, said the bank has not endorsed any targets, though it has supported a policy of a national emissions cap. He said the bank's interest was to shed light on an area where there has been little informed debate: the likely cost of imposing regulations.

Despite the steep costs involved in meeting targets, the analysis concludes the Canadian economy would continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace, and that investment in renewable energy and efficiency measures would result in an overall increase in employment compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario.

And even with the significant reduction in Alberta's potential growth and employment prospects, the province would still lead the country economically over the next 10 years.

The Pembina/Suzuki study advocates pursuing deeper emission-reduction targets than the Harper government proposes, ones that environmentalists say would be consistent with Canada's international obligations.

To meet the more ambitious target of reducing emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels, Ottawa would impose $72-billion worth of emission levies. By way of comparison, the federal corporate income tax brought in $40-billion in revenue last year.

And while Alberta would be a net loser, analysts from Pembina and Suzuki argue that gap could be closed by rebalancing equalization and other federal programs.

The government's commitment would require an effective carbon price of $100 a tonne by 2020, while the steeper reductions urged by the environmental groups would need a carbon price of $200 a tonne by that date, the study says. Ottawa has estimated carbon prices would be $50 a tonne by 2020.

Pembina climate researcher Matthew Bramley said Ottawa has to move far more urgently than it has to date if it intends to meet its own targets.

“We would be not even close” to meeting the 2020 goal with the current policy direction that the government has announced, Mr. Bramley said.

The Conservative government says it wants to wait for the results of the Copenhagen meeting and for the United States to finalize its climate-change policies before unveiling its own approach.

In addition to the large, regional transfer of wealth, Canada would have to spend up to $5-billion to purchase international emission credits, or face even higher costs at home. The Harper government insists that virtually all of Canada's effort will involve domestic action.

With eyes open to cost of climate change, it's time to decide, John Ibbitson, Oct. 29 2009.

Canadians must determine whether they're willing to bear the burden of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions

All we had were questions. Now we have answers. The answers aren't pretty.

A major bank has paid two environmental organizations to produce a groundbreaking report that, for the first time, calculates the costs of both the Harper government's modest plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and the much more ambitious targets set by the environmental community, nationally and regionally.

The conclusion: Canada can still meet a 2020 target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions below 1990 levels while preserving some economic growth through the next decade.

But to meet that target, the federal government must act immediately. The impact of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions will be deeply disruptive to the economy. It will be very expensive. And Alberta, especially, will suffer.

“It will be the biggest fiscal shock in Canadian history,” observes TD chief economist Don Drummond. “But the study shows it can be done.”

The question is whether Canadians are willing to bear these burdens, in the cause of preventing a potential environmental catastrophe, whether our leaders are willing to pay the political price of acting in the planet's best interests.

But no one now can hide behind bafflegab and rhetoric. The stark truth confronts us. Fighting global warming will cost us. A lot.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank provided funding to the David Suzuki Foundation and environmental research group the Pembina Institute, which in turn brought in the respected economic modelling firm of M.K. Jaccard and Associates, to create a rigorous and unbiased assessment of what Canada will look like in 2020 if (a) it adopts the Harper government's plan to reduce emissions 3 per cent below 1990 levels or (b) adopts the much more ambitious goal of 25 per cent below 1990 levels, which environmentalists and many scientists say is essential to prevent the worst impacts of rising temperatures.

To get there, Canada will have to turn itself into an environmental Elysium, and do it practically overnight. To meet any 2020 target, the report concludes, the federal and provincial governments must immediately impose sweeping and powerful legislation.

A new system that caps and then lowers industrial emissions, forcing industries to purchase credits to offset anything they emit above that cap, would have to be up and running by 2011, which is probably politically impossible.

All new residential construction would have to be 50 per cent more energy efficient than the average new home today. All motor vehicles would have to meet the strict new fuel-efficiency standards that will come into effect in California in 2012. All home appliances would have to be as energy efficient as the most efficient ones today. All homes and offices constructed in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec would have to be heated electrically. There would be much else besides.

Even in this extremely energy-frugal world, and in pursuit of the most modest Harper-government targets, there would be an enormous gap between target and actual performance. To close that gap, by 2020 Canada would annually be purchasing somewhere between $2-billion and $6-billion of offshore carbon credits a year, depending on whether the rest of the developed world enacts similar measures.

To meet the environmentalists' goal, the cost would be $8-billion. And in the environmentalists' case that assumes that new methods – which haven't been invented yet – would be capturing and storing much of the carbon generated by energy-producing industries, including new production from the oil sands.

Beyond the cost to government is the impact of these actions on the economy. By 2020, Ottawa would be raking in between $46-billion and $72-billion annually, a staggering sum, from the carbon credits that industry would be paying. (Which is why cap-and-trade is really just a carbon tax by another name.) All that money would be flowing back, however: in income-tax cuts to compensate for rising heating costs; in subsidies to industries most severely affected by higher energy costs; in promoting alternative energy sources, mass transit and high-speed rail; and in purchasing offshore credits.

The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation point out that the overall impact on economic growth will be minimal, and employment will actually increase, as the country restructures to become more energy efficient.

“With strong federal and provincial policies, Canada can meet” even the most ambitious targets “and still have a strong, growing economy, a quality of life higher than Canadians enjoy today, and continued steady job creation across the country,” they maintain in their analysis of M.K. Jaccard's numbers.

But while there would continue to be overall growth – assuming there isn't another recession – Alberta's gross domestic product would shrink between 7 and 12 per cent below what it would be without these reforms. Saskatchewan and British Columbia would suffer more modest losses.

Industrial production would, in many cases, languish at 2008 levels, and some sectors would require massive subsidies to maintain even that output. And then there is the incalculable: the economic impact as Canada shifts from capital-intensive industries to labour-intensive industries, as it weans itself from fossil-fuel production and manufacturing based on cheap energy.

“The sheer magnitude of the shock means there are lots of moving pieces and some of them move in extreme fashion,” observes Mr. Drummond. Over all, things are predicted to work out, but some regions, some industries, some people, could suffer greatly.

And then there are the intangibles, the things no model, no matter how carefully conceived and applied, can predict, especially when “not only has there never been anything of that magnitude, but nothing of that nature,” he adds.

The bank, which substantially financed the report in the interests of informed debate, has no position on whether Canada should pursue a strategy to fight global warming.

Canada will be severely affected by a melting polar ice cap, rising oceans and higher temperatures. If the rest of the developed world, and eventually the developing world as well, join in, we might reach the targets the scientific community has warned must be reached to prevent the worst from happening. Better a decade of discomfort, perhaps, than a century of misery.

At least now we can have this debate with open eyes. We now know the costs, if we act today. We know the cost will only increase with every month of delay. The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation have had the courage to uncover and to tell us the truth. Now Canadians must decide what to do.

Targets set without a plan, and costs that are perilous, Editorial, Oct. 29 2009.

A comprehensive climate-change analysis for Canada released today sharpens the focus on a question the federal government has been loath to answer. What is its plan?

A comprehensive climate-change analysis for Canada released today attempts to fill a vacuum of inaction. It is the wrong approach; its all-out attack on the oil and gas sector is politically and economically unacceptable, and would euthanize a vital Canadian industry. But it sharpens the focus on a question the federal government has been loath to answer. What is its plan? Does it have alternatives that are achievable, and that can demonstrably meet its greenhouse gas emission targets? If not, it is time for the government to come out and say so.

The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation study, sponsored by TD Bank, outlines policies that would reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels as of 2020 (this is the federal government's target), and reduce emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels in 2020 (the United Nations-sanctioned target requested of all developed countries to keep the growth in world temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius). Remarkably, the economic consequences of a deeper emissions cut (2.1-per-cent annual GDP growth) are just a shade under the consequences of a smaller cut (2.2 per cent), and not far from GDP growth if there is no new policy (2.4 per cent). This is good news, to the extent that economic growth years hence can be predicted at all. But the gulf is elsewhere, in the transformative changes the study says are needed to meet the government's target.

The recommendations are radical: capturing methane emissions from almost all landfills; effectively banning new nuclear power construction; California-level fuel efficiency standards for vehicles; and, to meet the UN emissions reduction target, the study says carbon capture and storage, an unproven technology, ought to be made mandatory for new oil and gas developments.

Not that there would be many. The study assumes a price on carbon emissions, through either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, something the government acknowledges will be necessary. But it sets that price at $40 per tonne in 2011, rising to $100 per tonne in 2020. This is far above the estimated $15-$26 (U.S.) target price until 2020 emerging from a major U.S. congressional proposal, the Waxman-Markey bill.

And what is the estimated impact on the oil patch, from this and other changes? A 16- to 26-per-cent reduction in gas extraction, and an 18- to 19-per-cent reduction in petroleum refining in 2020, compared with 2005. Albertans and Alberta companies would pay $15- to $24-billion annually in 2020. The industry would be devastated, and so too would Alberta's economy (and, to a lesser extent, Saskatchewan's). This is unacceptable.

There are echoes of Stéphane Dion's Green Shift, as the analysis proposes to return almost half of the carbon revenues through income tax reductions, and direct energy rebates to households, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan. These measures would lessen the regional pain, but the study acknowledges that what is proposed is no less than an economic upheaval: “There is a migration of capital and labour out of carbon and trade exposed sectors (e.g., fossil fuels) to sectors that are less carbon and trade exposed (e.g., manufacturing, services and renewable electricity).”

Canada cannot take its national unity for granted and must not, in the service of international obligations, allow itself to be immolated by a government policy of such wrenching dislocation.

There's one other idea of limited palatability. The purchase of emissions credits overseas accounts for around one-fifth of the reductions under the analysis, on the premise that a reduction in greenhouse gas anywhere in the world is desirable. (Climate-change legislation currently before the U.S. Congress involves a similar scheme.) But there has been little political ground laid for this transfer of wealth from Canada to poorer countries.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. No politician who wants a chance to govern Canada would dare pick it up. So where does that leave us? The federal government clings to its “20 per cent by 2020” target, but has been reluctant to release any updated plan on how to get there. Certainly, it has failed to release the kind of extensive costing and number-crunching that was done by the Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation and ought to stand as the minimum level of policy engagement on such a complicated question. In this respect, its behaviour is alarmingly similar to that of the federal Liberals, whose inaction on Kyoto it understandably derides to this day.

The federal government pledges co-ordinated action with the United States, but it has yet to respond to the many American moves in recent months. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued rules requiring 14,000 large emitters to get operating permits and prove that they have the best available anti-emission technologies. Two major climate-change bills that would establish a cap-and-trade system are now before the U.S. House and Senate. A national low-carbon fuel standard for automobiles that could disqualify products from the Canadian oil sands may be in the offing.

There may still be some low-hanging fruit, in energy efficiency and clean technology, to help Canada reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Canadians may be ready, if reluctantly, to feel some pain in the move to a lower carbon future. But there is no silver bullet; voters rejected the Green Shift in the last federal election, and the Pembina Institute/David Suzuki Foundation analysis is unsaleable and dangerous.

With the Copenhagen climate-change conference less than six weeks away, we stand at a critical juncture. There are two paths.

The federal government must present a policy package that will show, and not just tell, how Canada will meet its stated and international obligations to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Or the target may be unreachable without unacceptable damage to Canada's economy and national unity. In which case, it is time for new targets, and new policies.

Climate change report 'irresponsible,' Prentice says, Bill Curry & Dawn Walton, Oct. 30 2009.

Western provinces believe landmark study on economics of climate-change targets reaches unworkable conclusions

Ottawa and Calgary — A landmark report on the economic impact of meeting climate-change targets has run into a storm of opposition, with Western provinces calling it divisive and the federal government saying it would spell economic disaster.

“We would be extremely opposed to any kind of a carbon tax or some other kind of tax that would result in a significant wealth transfer from our province to any other province or area of the country,” said Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd.

Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice said there is no way Western Canadians could absorb the deep economic hit projected by the report's environmentalist authors – the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute.

He said their assumptions are way off: The long-term economic conditions they forecast will be avoided by working with the Americans on a continental climate-change plan.

“The conclusions [the report] draws are irresponsible,” said Mr. Prentice in an interview with The Globe and Mail from Kingston, where he was meeting with provincial and territorial environment ministers. Specifically, he said Canadians will not accept the report's advocacy of emission targets for 2020 that would reduce Canada's gross domestic product by 3 per cent nationally and 12 per cent in Alberta from business-as-usual estimates.

The report, which was financed but not endorsed by the Toronto Dominion Bank, provides the estimated costs for Canada to meet the Conservative government's own target to reduce emissions to 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020, as well as a more stringent target advocated by environmentalists.

The projections rely on an economic modelling scheme designed by Mark Jaccard & Associates, which produced similar models for the federal government.

The report said meeting the government's target would require a cap on emissions and a penalty – or “carbon price” – on industry that rises from $40 to $100 per tonne of CO{-2} emissions. The environmentalists' target would start at $50 per tonne in 2010 and rise to $200 per tonne by 2020.

Mr. Prentice insisted Thursday that Canada's target can be achieved by harmonizing with U.S. proposals that are currently estimated to be about $28 per tonne.

“The kind of economic consequences you see in this report are not necessary if this is done in an orderly way,” he said, noting the costs must be acceptable in all regions. Mr. Prentice also said Canada will not cap emissions alone and that he expects the U.S. Senate will not approve new climate rules until next year.

The slower-than-expected timeline for the U.S. plan has led the United Nations to play down expectations that the world will reach a detailed new climate-change pact this December in Copenhagen. Instead, that gathering is now aimed at producing a more general agreement.

Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner, who was also at the Kingston meeting Thursday, said the report is “divisive” and unworkable.

“Alberta is not asking for special privileges nor are we asking to get some kind of a free pass,” he said in an interview. “We're in this, we're taking it seriously and we're going to do everything that we can to mitigate the issue of CO{-2} as it relates to Alberta.”

Mr. Renner said the report does point out that meaningful emissions reductions are technically possible with significant technology spending. Alberta has been investing heavily in carbon capture and storage projects as a way to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mr. Boyd said the way to solve climate-change concerns is through technology – and perhaps a technology fund – not transfers of wealth from energy-producing provinces.

The report provided fodder for both the left and the right Thursday in Ottawa, where MPs are studying an NDP bill, C-311, that proposes emission targets in line with those forecast by the David Suzuki Foundation and Pembina.

Conservative MPs at the table said the report shows the NDP's proposals would hurt Alberta and put national unity at risk.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan defended the report, saying many Albertans would welcome slower growth in the oil sands, and it would reduce the need for Canadians from other regions to fill Western job shortages.

“The Conservatives are trying to say, ‘Clearly if we go in that direction it's going to hammer Alberta and Saskatchewan.' I read it completely different,” she said, predicting her province would be in line for new technology investments. “I think what it shows is Alberta will do very well under the green scenario.”

Don't turn up the heat on the West, Rex Murphy, Oct. 31 2009.

By making Western provinces pay for adventures in global warming policy we will be playing with Confederation

An article on The Globe's front page carrying the headline “Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques” raises, among many others, two very interesting points. The article is about a study, conducted by two ardent environmental advocacy groups – the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation – and was sponsored by the Toronto Dominion Bank.

The headline has the virtue of capturing the first point I want to underline. In our new green-genuflecting age any substantial, purely Canadian effort to curb greenhouse gases – any policy, economic or otherwise – will have a massive and negative impact on Alberta and Saskatchewan.

If there are taxes on oil development, if we introduce carbon penalties on industry, if there is a deliberate brake put on the oil sands, or an effort to shut them down altogether – this latter not an unthinkable proposition in certain quarters – whatever is done will, sooner or later, take revenues and jobs, take enterprise, out of Alberta in particular. For purely projected and speculative benefits to the world's climate a century hence – and, despite the unctuous insistence of many to the contrary, speculative they remain – people are seriously considering policies that will penalize the West for its success as an energy producer now.

This is reckless. The oil industry of some Western provinces has been Canada's dynamo these past few years. It has been our major shield during this recession. It has given the dignity of jobs to tens of thousands of Canadians. It is all that. But if “Central” Canada, as the political and economic axis of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal is still known in some quarters out West, now – under the impetus of the green craze – is seen to be setting limits, placing penalties, or bleeding disproportionate taxes, particularly in Alberta's case, it will churn a backlash that will make regional hostilities set loose by the national energy program a few decades ago seem like warm-ups for a yoga class.

It will shape a whirlwind of political discontent, set the West against East, and far from incidentally have deep repercussions in the many other provinces that have their citizens working in one capacity or another in the oil patch. The fury over the national energy program may be spent, but its memory – pardon the word – is green. That fury, I reiterate, will be as nothing compared with the political fury of a second attempt to “stall the West.” Should some global warming action plan attempt to put the oil sands and Western energy development at significant disadvantage, or draw taxes out of the economies of the Western provinces to pay for adventures in global warming policy, we will be playing with Confederation.

That is a prediction it takes no computer modelling to make. If Alberta in particular, and the Western provinces more generally, come to be portrayed as villains in the global warming morality play, more than the climate a century hence is at stake.

Secondly, I would urge a caution to all people working in the oil sands in particular. The TD study – farmed out to the economic specialists of the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute – should be seen as a loud, low shot across the bow. The oil sands project, already castigated by every green-blooded organization on the planet, featured in a full-blown National Geographic hit-job some months back, is going to be the great emblem of a world “toxifying” itself, and paving the way for global warming Armageddon. It is now boilerplate in news stories as the “dirtiest project on the planet.” It photographs vividly – as National Geographic's glossy toss-off demonstrates – because of its scale and makes for wonderful anti-energy posters. The oil sands are a target.

Environmentalists are very good at what they do. They play the news media better than Glenn Gould doing a Bach prelude. They know how to sell their point of view, how to build a villain, how to shortcut an argument. Big Green – and there is a Big Green as much as there is a Big Oil – knows the game. Find a symbol. Find one project that, superficially, can stand for all others. The oil sands, despite the hundreds or thousands of less scrupulous and governed energy projects all over the world, despite China's spectacular use of coal, or the accelerated developments all over the Third World, will be the emblem of choice for the eco-warriors. The media-smart apostles of Al Gore, the Sierra Club and hundreds of other NGOs and eco-lobbies will turn the oil sands into the blight of our time.

It's only a number of weeks ago, remember, that the great crisis in the auto industry called forth billions to rescue the great manufacturing base of Central Canada. The West will note the contradiction. Spend billions to save an industry that runs on petroleum – it's here in Ontario – hit the source industry to “save the planet” – that's in the West.

Pursue this course and things will get warm. And I'm not talking about the climate.

Monday, 26 October 2009

why nobody came ... a bust then? XXVII

Up, Down.

Ambiente-seas usual, the most relevant and balanced news comes to me from Brasil, tinged with a refreshing whiff of naïveté, maybe that's the appeal, but here - the headline is Dia para o Clima mobiliza milhares de manifestantes em todo o mundo/Climate Day mobilizes thousands of demonstrators all over the world - yet they fail to see, or at least fail to report, that milhares/thousands should be fucking MILLIONS! if it's to have any effect that is, "aos milhares/by the thousands" has to be, has to somehow become "aos milhões/by the millions" because the politicians are MAGGOTS, they are lazy and stupid and eat up the money they extort from you (with the implicit threat of their police forces - see below), take your flesh if you let them, until they are positively forced to act

a proof, weak and inconclusive proof maybe but proof nonetheless, is presented right on the very Ambiente Brasil page giving the news ... "ambiente-se/environment yourself", catchy little bit of turning the language on its head, making a noun into a verb, putting a few cute little leaves sprouting out of the dot on the 'i' of ambiente, it took a clever person to do that, which clever energy was co-opted by the politicians and buried down five levels deep in their website so they can pretend to be having it both ways, or from both ends as the case may be - that can be fun too as André Dahmer, another very clever Brasilian, shows us:

André Dahmer Malvados Orgia de Intelectuais
Orgy of Intellectuals
It's that a drop spilled on his book ...

and there at Ambiente Brasil I found another straw piling on the camel's back from Raúl Estrada-Oyuela:

"Acordo sobre o quê"?
     Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, 2009.
Raúl Estrada-Oyuela at Kyoto 1997Raúl Estrada-OyuelaRaúl Estrada-OyuelaRaúl Estrada-OyuelaRaúl Estrada-OyuelaRaúl Estrada-Oyuela
more acronyms in his resumé than you can shake a stick at, he seems to think that our Connie Hedegaard is not the woman for the job, and that nothing will get done until the USA gets its act together ... he was the main man at Kyoto and probably makes good guesses ... a few notes: The Elder Statesman - Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, Copenhagen needs a strong lead negotiator, Climate of compromise.

Mardi TindalMardi TindalMardi TindalI stood and listened on Saturday as the current Moderator of the United Church of k-k-Canada, Mardi Tindal, spoke a few words, a walking allegory entirely delivered in new-age Christian code: “In order to love each other, we have to love the garden; In order to love the garden, we have to love each other,” (ugh!), and which garden would that be then exactly? the one from Solomon's Song? "A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed"? I found myself wondering if her parents had wanted to name her after Tuesday Weld but were embarassed by the alliteration? God knows - maybe she is named after the start of Carnaval (?) her 60 character Twitter "bio" tells us that she is a "Circle of Trust Facilitator, Adult Educator & Lover of Poetry," ... from what I (myself personally) heard she is no preacher, nor much of a speaker, and not much of a thinker either, maybe she was having a bad hair day, sweet though, sweet enough to choke whatever it is that chokes on saccharine

and I had another vision, not titties this time but a mini-epiphany: having watched all of the TCC nitwits & invitees flailing about so ineffectually on Saturday at Queen's Park, I realized that the naïve and silly deniers, Margaret Wente and Rex Murphy and Lawrence Solomon, are serving us better than the naïve and silly demonstrators ... these deniers force anyone with a brain into a kind of return-to-first-principles, which is a truly useful and salutary exercise, witness the indefatigable (and mostly dignified) Alan Burke as he takes on the howling herd (Globe Comments on Margaret Wente's article & on Rex Murphy's)

do you suppose that our Bud Mercer of the RCMP and head of the ISU for the Vancouver Olympics is an arrogant, obstinate, person?
RCMP Bud MercerRCMP Bud MercerRCMP Bud MercerRCMP Bud MercerRCMP Bud MercerRCMP Bud MercerRCMP Bud Mercer
have the RCMP ever learned anything except the most blatantly self-interested & obvious? they are no more than the police equivalent of the Wall Street greed-heads.

William Shakespeare - Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

"haply I think on thee" ... in my case it is Northrop Frye and his last little book The Double Vision, I never knew him, never met him, and if I had he might not have cosidered me very much ... but when I get low I re-read this book and catch a glimpse at least of something you could call heaven's gate ... from the chapter on nature comes this:

"The Bible is emphatic that nothing numinous exists in nature, that there may be devils there but no gods, and that nature is to be thought of as a fellow-creature of man. However, the paranoid attitude to nature that Pynchon describes survives in the manic-depressive psychosis of the twentieth century. In the manic phase, we are told that the age of Aquarius is coming, and that soon the world will be turned back to the state of innocence. In the depressive phase, news analysts explain that pollution has come to a point at which any sensible nature would simply wipe us out and start experimenting with a new species. In interviews I am almost invariably asked at some point whether I feel optimistic or pessimistic about some contemporary situation. The answer is that these imbecile words are euphemisms for manic-depressive highs and lows, and that anyone who struggles for sanity avoids both."
     Northrop Frye, 1991.

some nonsense reflections on "Happyness" from the left coast, and some more reasonable ones from Olivia Judson, aptly titled "A Language of Smiles," a-and speaking of heaven's gate & smiles, here are a few more smiles from our Tatiane de Moraes:
Tatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes RamosTatiane de Moraes Ramos
turpitude/turpytude (shameful character, baseness, vileness; depravity, wickedness)? concupiscence/concupyscens (eager or vehement or libidinous desire, sexual appetite, lust)? obsession (hostile action of the devil or an evil spirit besetting any one, actuation by the devil or an evil spirit from without, idea or image that repeatedly intrudes upon the mind, subconscious effect of a repressed emotion or experience)? incontinece/incontynence (want of continence or self-restraint, inability to contain or retain bodily appetites especially the sexual passion)? melancholy/malyncoly (the condition of having too much ‘black bile’)? liminal/borderline (of or pertaining to a ‘limen’ or ‘threshold’)?

none of the above? "seriously though," I'll give the last word to John Cleese: "the rather sad paranoid schizoid that you really are" ... (?)

the bare bones of a story are emerging (and I am a sucker for a story), life in a São Paulo favela, off at 15 around South America with a dutch boyfriend, Europe (Holland?), Spain, marriage (?), child, distinction between nude modelling & pornography ... we need wazizname ... Fernando Meirelles and his buddies Paulo Lins & Bráulio Mantovanito to do a partner to Cidade de Deus, music by Fernanda Porto & her bateria, but starting in Rio's Vila Mimosa just after WWII ... eh? now there's an idea.

1. Dia para o Clima mobiliza milhares de manifestantes em todo o mundo, Ambiente Brasil, 26/10/2009.
     1a. Blog Comissão Meio Ambiente e Desinvolvimento Sustentável, Câmera dos Deputados.

2-1. Raúl A. Estrada-Oyuela, 2004 UN mini-bio.
2-2. EUA barram tratado em Copenhague, diz diplomata, Claudio Angelo, 26/10/2009.
2-3. The Elder Statesman - Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, Rolling Stone, Nov. 03 2005.
2-4. Copenhagen needs a strong lead negotiator, Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, 21 October 2009.
2-5. Climate of compromise, Nature Editorial, October 21 2009.

3-1. The Double Vision Chapter Two - The Double Vision of Nature, Northrop Frye, 1991.
3-2. Don't worry, be happy, whatever that meansVancouver Sun Editorial, Oct. 24 2009.
3-3. A Language of Smiles, Olivia Judson, October 27 2009.

Raúl A. Estrada-Oyuela, 2004 UN mini-bio.

Ambassador Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, born in 1938 in Buenos Aires, Argentina is a career diplomat Married to Leticia Vigil Zavala, he has eight children and twelf grandchildren. He is a journalist and a graduate in Law from the National University of Buenos Aires. He was admitted to the Argentine Foreign Service in 1966. He has been posted in Washington D.C., Vienna, Brasilia, and Santiago, and was the Argentine Ambassador to the People's Republic of China. Mr. Estrada-Oyuela was a member of the National Commission on Global Change of the Argentine Republic, and has served in Buenos Aires, inter alia, as Deputy-Director for South American Affairs, Deputy Director-General for International Organizations and Director General of the Special Unit on Environment in the Foreign Ministry, Director General for Cultural Affairs and currently is Ambassador at large for Environment Negotiations.

Among other international meetings, he has attended several sessions of the United Nations General Assembly since 1968. Has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Atomic Energy Agency, a member of the Industrial Development Board (UNIDO) and has participated in numerous regional and sub-regional meetings, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly and the Inter-American Conferences of Foreign Ministers. He was also Deputy Head of the Argentine Delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995)

From 1990 until 1994, most of his time has been devoted to the international negotiations on environmental matters, attending the Second World Climate Conference, several sessions of the UNEP Governing Council, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Plenary and Bureau Meetings, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Participants Assembly, and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and all substantive sessions of its Preparatory Committee. In November 2000 he was elected Vice President of the VI Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change and during 2001 he has moderated the debate in the Ministerial Group on International Environmental Governance.

In February 1991, Mr. Estrada-Oyuela was elected Vice-Chairman of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change (DSfC/FCCC) created by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 45/212. In March 1993, he was elected Chairman of the INC/FCCC and two years later, Chairman of the Committee of the Whole of First the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Chairman of the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM) created to negotiate a legally binding instrument on climate change today known as the Kyoto Protocol. To finalize that negotiation at Kyoto in December 1997, he was again elected Chairman of the Committee of the Whole of the Thiid Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

Mr. Estrada Oyuela was the Argentine Ambassador to China from October 1994 until December 1997, when he returned to his country. In 1998 was appointed Distinguished Lecturer on the Global Community and its Challenges, at the Institute for International Studies, Stanford University and, in the fall semester of 1999, invited to lecture a seminar on 'International Environmental Law and Polic/at the Columbia University Law School.

Back in Argentina in 2000 for a short period he was Director General for Cultural Affairs in the Foreign Ministry and in August of that year was appointed Ambassador at large for Environment Negotiations, attending since then meetings on environmental matters, including UNFCCC and CBD COPs an the WSSD.

December 2004

EUA barram tratado em Copenhague, diz diplomata, Claudio Angelo, 26/10/2009.

Raúl Estrada-Oyuela devolve ao jornalista a pergunta sobre se haverá acordo na conferência do clima de Copenhague: "Acordo sobre o quê"?

O embaixador argentino, 71, diz que "não se pode ter" um acordo ambicioso de combate ao aquecimento global em dezembro na capital dinamarquesa. O motivo é o de sempre: os EUA não estão prontos, e não há acordo possível sem o maior poluidor do planeta.

Além disso, afirma, a ministra de Energia da Dinamarca, Connie Hedegaard, responsável por liderar as negociações, provavelmente não é o melhor nome. Hedegaard tem defendido agressivamente a postura europeia de cortes ambiciosos de emissões, e conta com a desconfiança de vários países. "Os dinamarqueses têm tido uma posição agressiva demais para poderem exercer a liderança."

Estrada sabe uma coisa ou outra sobre esse tipo de negociação. Foi ele quem presidiu, em 1997, a conferência do clima de Kyoto, Japão, que deu origem ao tratado climático vigente - e que o acordo de Copenhague deveria ampliar.

Em um artigo publicado na última quinta-feira no periódico "Nature", o diplomata afirma que o ideal seria que a conferência fosse interrompida e reconvocada no meio do ano que vem, para que os EUA tenham tempo de aprovar, no Congresso, a lei de mudanças climáticas que estabelece metas nacionais de redução de gases de efeito estufa.

A lei, aprovada neste ano na Câmara dos Representantes (deputados), aguarda votação no Senado. Sem o aval do Congresso, o maior emissor histórico global não pode se comprometer com metas em Copenhague. No entanto, o presidente Barack Obama está investindo seu cacife parlamentar na reforma do sistema de saúde dos EUA, e a maioria dos analistas considera remota a possibilidade de o Senado votar a lei do clima antes de dezembro.

"Que haverá acordo, haverá, mas não será minucioso como se desejava", disse Estrada por telefone à Folha, de seu escritório em Buenos Aires. "Esses acordos se constroem tijolo por tijolo. Copenhague deve construir não a cúpula, mas os alicerces, e criar espaço para um acordo posterior. Criou-se uma falsa expectativa no público de que haveria um acordo detalhado", continuou.

Segundo Estrada, é preciso ter em vista em Copenhague um "leque de possibilidades" de acordo. O leque menor consistiria em avançar nos compromissos de redução de emissões dos países emergentes, como Brasil, China e Índia.

"O outro extremo não é possível, porque os EUA ainda não têm sua posição. E a decisão dos EUA é chave, porque condiciona o quanto (os países ricos devem cortar emissões)."

Ecoando as declarações de Estrada, dadas na última quarta-feira, o Japão afirmou ontem que pode recuar de sua meta, proposta em setembro, de 25% de corte de emissões em relação a 1990 até 2020. O ministro do Ambiente japonês, Sakihito Ozawa, disse que a meta, aplaudida como uma das mais ambiciosas entre as dos países ricos, era condicional à adoção de metas também ambiciosas por outras nações.

Egoístas - O embaixador argentino, aposentado do serviço diplomático em 2006 após uma briga com o então presidente Néstor Kirchner, criticou o que ele chama de "egoísmo" dos congressistas americanos.

"Se eles têm mostrado tanta resistência em aprovarem a reforma da saúde, que diz respeito às vidas dos próprios americanos no presente, como se espera que ajam em relação ao futuro do planeta?"

Foi esse mesmo Congresso, lembrou, que rejeitou o Protocolo de Kyoto em 1997 "por conta do lobby do carvão". A decisão abriu caminho para a rejeição de Kyoto por George W. Bush, em 2001.

Segundo Estrada, nem mesmo uma eventual presença de Barack Obama em Copenhague salvaria a conferência. "Obama em Copenhague não resolverá o problema dos EUA. Mas, se Lula for, certamente ganhará aplausos da plateia."

The Elder Statesman - Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, Rolling Stone, Nov. 03 2005.

In 1997, Argentinian diplomat Raul Estrada Oyuela presided during a two-week conference in Japan, where thousands of international delegates were meeting to hammer out the first global treaty on climate change. On the final night, after three days of nonstop negotiations, the delegates were close to an agreement. But at the last minute, U.S. representatives refused to sign, insisting that the treaty include a provision allowing countries to buy and sell "emissions credits" from one another, essentially trading the right to pollute. Tempers among the exhausted delegates grew short -- until Estrada, a portly and distinguished statesman known for his love of good food, stepped in and eased the tension with rapturous descriptions of his wife's home cooking. At the eleventh hour, he accepted the American provision, sealing the deal on a unanimous agreement he named the Kyoto Protocol.

"Estrada is a grandmaster of diplomacy and the godfather of Kyoto," says David Sandalow, an assistant secretary of state under Bill Clinton, who helped negotiate the agreement. "It wouldn't have happened without his leadership, excellent judgment and good humor."

Eight years later, the landmark agreement has become the centerpiece of international law. In February, 131 countries -- including Canada, Japan and every member of the European Union -- began implementing the treaty, which requires nations to limit heat-trapping gases by 2012. But Kyoto failed to receive a single vote when it was brought before the U.S. Senate in 1997, and the Bush administration has refused to implement it, insisting that it would have "wrecked our economy."

In fact, as Estrada points out, Kyoto is proving to be an advantage: Germany, for example, has created 450,000 new jobs while cutting carbon emissions by nearly twenty percent. "We expected the United States leaders to comply," says Estrada, "because the protocol is economically forward-thinking." What's more, he adds, American companies can't escape the treaty: Any U.S. business that operates in a Kyoto-endorsing country must comply with the agreement's emissions restrictions at its overseas plants.

A father of eight and grandfather of twelve, Estrada started out as a journalist before getting his law degree and serving in embassies from the U.S. to China. His global experience makes him confident that America will eventually join Kyoto. "I believe that international collaboration is the only way to solve this global problem," says Estrada, 68. "And I have faith that U.S. leaders will eventually agree to participate in this greater good."

Copenhagen needs a strong lead negotiator, Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, 21 October 2009.

Reaching an international climate agreement requires someone with exceptional skill, knowledge and diplomacy, says Kyoto chair Raúl Estrada-Oyuela.

As the professional diplomat who presided over the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, it is clear to me how vital it is to have a good leader to steer negotiations at the Copenhagen conference on climate this December. Time is short, and matters are very complex. Although it may prove impossible to agree on quantified commitments at the meeting itself, a strong effort should be made for a deal that at least settles the main political objectives, with the aim of finalizing the agreements at subsidiary meetings in June 2010.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently involves 192 governments, making negotiation a major exercise in diplomacy. To come to an agreement, the process needs a well established leader who is fair, forceful, committed and well informed on the subject under debate and on the aspirations and bottom lines of all parties.

Often, the host country can take on this role. But Denmark, the host of December's 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, has pushed the objectives of the European Union so aggressively that a leadership role from that country is likely to generate a negative reaction from some parties, such as India. The difficulty of Denmark's position in leading the talks was emphasized on 12 October when the country's chief climate negotiator Thomas Becker left his post in the wake of an expenses scandal. Plus, the nation's intended leader of the conference — Anders Fogh Rasmussen — resigned as prime minister earlier this year to become NATO's secretary-general. The current Danish minister of energy and climate — Connie Hedegaard — will therefore officially preside over the talks, but it is not clear to me that she has the necessary experience to truly lead the negotiations.

A whole solution

The best option, I think, would be to create a Committee of the Whole that would combines negotiations from the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, which are currently run by separate committees with separate chairs. It is still possible to do this, and it will remain possible until the conference starts. The last preparatory meeting, in Barcelona on 2–6 November, will be an opportunity to consider this point. If such a committee is formed, its elected chair would naturally lead the negotiations at the Copenhagen summit. If this doesn't happen, the chance of making a good deal will be lessened.

My own role in climate negotiations began with the Second World Climate Conference, held in Geneva in 1990, where I was Argentina's representative and the de facto speaker for the Group of Latin America and Caribbean countries. A graduate in law, I had joined the foreign service in 1966 and participated in a number of multilateral negotiations, including on environmental issues. Diplomats at the 1990 conference were, surprisingly, not allowed to attend the science segment devoted to the first assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Before the conference, from my desk in Buenos Aires I had to send junior colleagues to attend meetings they barely understood in Geneva to get a handle on the IPCC's activities. Eventually I was lucky enough to recruit a good scientific team, led by Osvaldo Canziani, to educate myself and my colleagues.
Copenhagen needs a strong lead negotiator

I learnt many good lessons from other diplomats about the skills required to negotiate a good agreement. Jean-Maurice Ripert, for example, was a distinguished French economist who was ambassador to the UN and chaired the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in 1991. This was the body tasked with creating a legal multilateral instrument on climate change (what came to be called the UNFCCC). I was vice-chairman of that committee at the time, and witnessed Ripert's skill first-hand. He was an optimist in the most adverse of circumstances. He was well aware of the need to have the United States and Japan on board, yet also had authority among developing countries, because he was in charge of promoting their participation on the IPCC. He consulted privately with most delegations on every issue to understand their thinking.

Also a master of this trade is ambassador Tommy Koh — former dean of the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore, a UN representative and eventual chair of the preparatory committee for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (and chair of the Committee of the Whole in that conference). During the Earth Summit negotiations, he commanded daily results from the leaders of sub-groups he had created. When he felt that an area was failing to progress, he took the matter on himself, making emotional appeals in the plenary if necessary and even jokingly comparing his appearance to Mickey Mouse to soften the debate. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development is, in large part, a product of his personal drafting.

Clever tactics

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee met for the first time in February 1991 just outside Washington DC. From the start, as today, the United States and India made progress difficult: at one point, the US representative, Bob Reinstein, refused to participate in a crucial meeting. After insisting in many ways without success, I obtained a suite for an impromptu luncheon and invited all the relevant delegates, including Reinstein. Using a trick learned from Koh, I appealed to their good manners and the rules of polite diplomacy to point out that they could not decline the chairman's invitation. We had lunch, we forged an agreement and, fortunately, I had a credit card to cover the bill.

Final success in drafting the UNFCCC was reached only because Ripert worked full time to host a multitude of consultations during and between the official sessions. Once each paragraph of the convention was completed, we still needed to obtain consensus on the package. In delegates' jargon, 'consensus' means that everybody can live with the text even if not fully satisfied by it; it is reached not by a vote, but by the lead negotiator taking the responsibility to declare that a consensus has been reached. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) members vehemently held back their consent, but Ripert managed to moderate their resistance to a point at which he felt justified in declaring a consensus. That took guts.

The UNFCCC then went to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where it was signed into being. Further work was needed to create a set of rules by which it would be enacted. This again required a series of meetings by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, for which I was elected chair.

The main product of the first meeting, held in 1995, was the Berlin Mandate, which established the basis for the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol. This complicated document was created under the leadership of ambassador Bo Kjellén and Angela Merkel, then Germany's environment minister. Merkel is a superb politician. Having grown up in eastern Germany, she was versed in the uselessness of inflexibility and devoted to constructive compromise. Merkel worked a whole night as president of the conference, shuttling from one room to another, to work out the final text at around 6 a.m. of the last day. Like Ripert before her, she had obtained a strong enough position to declare the mandate adopted by consensus despite protest from the OPEC members.

We worked on the text for the protocol from August 1995 until December 1997, with the final stage in Kyoto. Although Japan held the presidency for this conference, it was unable to field a player similar to Merkel because of internal squabbles between the ministries of foreign affairs, international trade and industry, and environment (this continues to be the case in Japan). Instead, I took the lead.

Having studied Koh, Ripert and Merkel, I used diverse instruments to steer the discussions, always consulting with all sectors. At the request of the United States, we slowed the process until President Bill Clinton was re-elected. To placate the constant claims of the OPEC countries, I asked my Iranian friend Mohammad Reza Salamat, now a programme officer in the UN Secretariat, to find a way to placate the oil producers (which he did by drafting two paragraphs of the protocol). The United States favoured a 'cap and trade' approach from the beginning, allowing the market to drive emissions cuts, whereas the European Union was initially more inclined to adopt 'policies and measures', relying on rules and regulations to reduce emissions. We created an elaborate mix, with 'cap and trade' dominating, to satisfy all.

No regrets

The political decisions made for the Kyoto Protocol had their shortcomings. We opted to put targets on a range of gases, knowing that we had very different degrees of certainty on the estimation of emissions for each of them. Selecting 1990 as the base year for emissions comparisons was arbitrary, if politically convenient, as was selecting a 100-year horizon. The target of a 5% emissions reduction was too modest, but it was the only one politically possible. Despite this, the Kyoto Protocol has had an undeniably positive impact in international policy: climate change is now at the centre of the international scene, and I have no regrets about the negotiation.

Some have suggested that large deals always result in unsatisfactory compromise, and that smaller agreements are better alternatives. The administration of former US President George W. Bush, for one, prompted meetings among some 15–20 governments to discuss their own climate initiatives. These talks continue, but with no results. Differences between large world economies remain the same even in small meetings. Plus, only large meetings can properly capture the needs of the developing world.

Who will be Copenhagen's Merkel or Ripert? I hope this will be established before December.

The main task for Copenhagen is shared by two groups. The working group on long-term cooperative action must propose a "comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention", with the intention of including commitments from the United States and the 'mega' developing countries — China, India, Brazil, Mexico and North Korea — that do not have quantified commitments in the Kyoto Protocol. In addition, the working group on further commitments for 'Annex I' countries under the Kyoto Protocol must propose targets for beyond 2012 for developed nations who had caps for their emissions in the 2008–12 commitment period.

This March, ambassador Michael Zammit Cutajar of Malta, former executive-secretary of the UNFCCC, took the chair of the long-term co-operative action group. Cutajar has the necessary capabilities and the knowledge to lead this group. His nation is a member of the European Union but it is in many aspects a developing country, giving him respect from many quarters. In June, he produced an excellent draft negotiating text of fewer than 60 pages based on proposals submitted by various governments. The document has not met with much success, however: government representatives have added paragraphs that push the text up to 200 pages.

At the same time, ambassador John Ashe, of Antigua and Barbuda, took the chair of the further commitments working group. He, too, has produced a draft negotiation document and has considerable experience as a chairman, but he too has been confronted with a lack of cooperation by the parties.

Hedegaard has a difficult task at Copenhagen. It might be advisable not to end the conference in December at all, but rather, as we did with the 6th conference at The Hague, reconvene it six months later. Such a delay is not the best option, but may be the only way to reach a meaningful agreement.

Climate of compromise, Nature Editorial, October 21 2009.

The chances of a strong treaty emerging from the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen seem small, but recent progress offers hope.

With about six weeks left before nations gather in Copenhagen to finish negotiating a climate treaty, hopes are rapidly dwindlinug that countries will be ready to sign a strong, ratifiable agreement. The pessimism has spread so widely that it could be considered a global pandemic. News stories are already talking about the 'failure' of Copenhagen and squandered opportunities.

But viewed from the perspective of just a few years ago, the Copenhagen summit could already be considered a partial success. In a short span, many nations have pledged to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by considerable amounts, well beyond any commitments they had made before, such as through the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Norway, for example, offered this month to reduce its own emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. Indonesia said it would curb its emissions over that same time by 26% below the levels expected under a business-as-usual scenario, with even stronger cuts possible under an international agreement. The European Union has committed to a 20% reduction below 1990 levels and would increase that to 30% with a global pact. And, for the first time, the US Congress is moving towards establishing laws that mandate emissions cuts.

These words are not to be confused with achievements, but they at least show that countries have started to analyse their own emissions seriously and to develop domestic agendas that would set them on course to meet their commitments. Such unilateral decisions are an essential starting point for an international agreement, and they suggest that countries are now ready to back up their rhetoric in a way that was not true 12 years ago, when they signed the Kyoto Protocol. This is real progress, and it would not have happened without the pressure to produce a treaty.

Nevertheless, such vows fall short of what is needed to protect against the dangers of global warming. Nations need to reduce global emissions far more in the longer term, and the endgame gets much tougher if leaders delay making those reductions.

In a package of articles this week (see below), Nature looks at some of the issues that will play crucial parts in the negotiations in Copenhagen. Several articles focus on factors concerning the developing world, which will endure some of the severest effects of climate change and which will also be responsible for much of the future growth in greenhouse-gas emissions. At the moment, major gaps remain between the world's wealthiest nations and those still in the process of providing their citizens with basics such as clean water and electricity.

The negotiating impasse can be breached only by concessions on both sides. Developed nations, particularly the United States, must agree to substantial reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, both in the next decade and in the long term. And developing nations must commit to controlling their greenhouse-gas pollution in some fashion. China has recently taken over as the leader in carbon dioxide emissions and there can be no hope of containing global temperatures without Chinese action.

At the same time, developing nations will need monetary and technical assistance in steering their economies towards a low-carbon future. The wealthy nations have so far committed too little on this front, and the effects of the global recession have tightened budgets around the world. But as economies improve, the wealthiest nations should fashion innovative ways to assist the developing world, whether through the proceeds of carbon trading or through new technical collaborations.

Another major financial obstacle is the issue of support for adaptation. Some estimates suggest that the developing world will require in excess of US$100 billion in aid every year to cope with the effects of global warming. But the international funds created to help adaptation efforts in the world's poorest nations contain orders of magnitude less money, and even the available funds have not flowed smoothly to countries in need. The process of distributing funds should be streamlined. But there must be safeguards to ensure that adaptation money is used effectively.

With such major issues still unresolved, pessimistic observers see no chance of success in Copenhagen. But there is still time left for leaders to reach significant agreements if they make it a personal priority and recognize the urgency of the problem. Some leaders, such as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have indicated that they would be willing to attend the conference to seal a deal, but more should step forward and they should commit to going. This would lend stature to the negotiations and would raise the chances of achieving a substantial agreement.

It will not be possible to resolve many of the important issues in the remaining time this year. But leaders could make strong progress by building on the momentum at the national level. Many of the commitments made by nations this year are conditional — they depend on other parties taking specific actions as well. These could provide a model for approaching strong targets through a stepwise process.

In the end, successful international negotiations share some important characteristics with scientific research. Both are iterative processes, in which results from one step help to determine the path forward. They require time and perseverance. And they rarely travel in a straight line. Countries should endeavour to build on the positive actions of the past year, both before and after the Copenhagen summit.

The Double Vision Chapter Two - The Double Vision of Nature, Northrop Frye, 1991.

The Bible is emphatic that nothing numinous exists in nature, that there may be devils there but no gods, and that nature is to be thought of as a fellow-creature of man. However, the paranoid attitude to nature that Pynchon describes survives in the manic-depressive psychosis of the twentieth century. In the manic phase, we are told that the age of Aquarius is coming, and that soon the world will be turned back to the state of innocence. In the depressive phase, news analysts explain that pollution has come to a point at which any sensible nature would simply wipe us out and start experimenting with a new species. In interviews I am almost invariably asked at some point whether I feel optimistic or pessimistic about some contemporary situation. The answer is that these imbecile words are euphemisms for manic-depressive highs and lows, and that anyone who struggles for sanity avoids both.

We do emerge, however, to some degree, from the illusions of staring at nature into building a human world of culture and civilization, and from that perspective we can see the natural environment as the 'material' world in the sense of providing the materials for our unique form of existence. Practically all of our made world represents a huge waste of effort: it includes the world of war, of cutthroat competition, of stagnating bureaucracies, of the lying and hypocrisy of what is called public relations. Above all, it has not achieved any genuine rapprochement with nature itself, but simply regards nature as an area of exploitation. Where God may belong in this duality we have yet to try to see, but as he is not hidden in nature, he can only be connected with that tiny percentage of human activity that has not been hopelessly botched.

Dia para o Clima mobiliza milhares de manifestantes em todo o mundo, Ambiente Brasil, 26/10/2009.

Milhares de pessoas foram às ruas em várias cidades do mundo como Sydney, Nova York, Paris, Londres e Berlim para mobilizar a opinião pública mundial sobre o problema do aquecimento global, cinco semanas antes da conferência de Copenhague.

"Mais de 180 países participaram do evento. Este Dia Mundial para o Clima foi acompanhado em todo o planeta", declarou neste sábado em Times Square, no centro de Manhattan, um orador do movimento, organizador da manifestação.

Em Sydney, milhares de pessoas se reuniram no porto e na praia de Bondi com faixas com a inscrição "350", em referência à concentração de gás carbônico na atmosfera: 350 partes por milhão (ppm), um número que não pode ser ultrapassado para evitar um aquecimento global de consequências irreversíveis, segundo alguns cientistas.

Manifestantes formaram o número 350 com seus corpos nas escadas da Ópera de Sydney, e os sinos da catedral tocaram 350 vezes.

Em Londres, mais de 600 pessoas se reuniram à beira do Tâmisa para formar o número 5. Uma foto aérea desta reunião será agregada a outras que formaram, em outras partes do mundo, os números 3 e 0, para escrever o número 350, informou à AFP uma porta-voz da ONG "Campaign against Climate change".

Em Nova York, uma centena de militantes se reuniu sob uma chuva fina com cartazes nos quais aparecia o número 350.

Em Paris, duzentas pessoas colocaram seus celulares e relógios para tocar às 12h18, em alusão ao dia do encerramento da conferência sobre o clima, prevista de 7 a 18 de dezembro em Copenhague.

Apelo aos políticos - O objetivo dos manifestantes era "despertar" os políticos para que se preparem da melhor forma possível para esta conferência, que será precedida por uma cúpula europeia nos dias 29 e 30 de outubro. "Nicolas, acorda", podia-se ler em uma faixa dirigida ao presidente da França, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Considerada crucial, a conferência de Copenhague tem como objetivo estabelecer um novo tratado internacional sobre o clima para substituir o Protocolo de Kyoto, que expira em 2012.

O primeiro-ministro dinamarquês, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, avisou que as discussões sobre o clima não estavam progredindo o suficiente para permitir a conclusão de um acordo internacional em Copenhague.

Em Estocolmo, 30 manifestantes se reuniram no centro da cidade exigindo discussões "imediatas" sobre o clima.

Em Berlim, 350 militantes, muitos dos quais usavam máscaras da chanceler alemã Angela Merkel, se reuniram diante do Portão de Brandenburgo, no centro da cidade.

Na cidade sérvia de Novi Sad, 350 pessoas formaram o número 350 com seus corpos. Em Praga, 30 militantes ecologistas distribuíram 350 balões pretos com a inscrição "CO2".

Don't worry, be happy, whatever that meansVancouver Sun Editorial, Oct. 24 2009.

The notion that happier people are healthier people is widely accepted as an incontrovertible truth based on studies that claim to have tested the hypothesis time and again.

"People who are happier heal more quickly, have stronger immune systems and, on average, live longer," says Ed Diener, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, who has studied happiness for more than two decades and authored 240 publications, including the popular Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, sanctioned by Oprah Winfrey.

Work by Prof. Sarah Pressman at the University of Kansas psychology department has been described as linking happiness to faster recovery from surface wounds.

Happiness is said to lower the risk of heart disease and the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which weakens the immune system, and plasma fibrinogen, which may be associated with heart disease and stroke. Reports on Pressman's research assert that being happy may even offer protection against the common cold virus.

Some governments are jumping on the happiness bandwagon. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that his country's economic progress be measured by a happiness index, Gross Domestic Contentment, if you will. The World Health Organization has cited the importance of happiness for good health. Major companies are conducting happiness audits in the belief that a happy employee is a productive employee.

"Study after study has shown that happier people lead healthier lives," said Prof. Felicia Huppert, director of the University of Cambridge's Well-being Institute. "They eat better, exercise more, meet their friends more often and are less prone to obesity."

Huppert's observation leads naturally to this question: Is it possible that researchers have put the cart before the horse? Perhaps healthier people are happier people. Those who eat well, exercise and meet with friends are more likely to be happier than those who don't, aren't they? For instance, strenuous exercise releases endorphins which, pharmacologically speaking, generate a feeling of well-being. It's the activity that produces the result, not the other way 'round.

Another problem with this sphere of research is that happiness is an elusive thing. Sure, the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right in the United States (and a moderately successful 1980s indie-rock band in Canada), but it is difficult to define. Some are happiest when they dream of The Rapture, when God will carry them to Heaven while he destroys a world of unbelievers. This is not a happy outcome for unbelievers.

Simon Critchley, chairman of philosophy at the New School in New York City, wrote in the New York Times recently that to be happy is to be like God, "with no concern for time, free of the passions and troubles of the soul, experiencing something like calm in the face of things and of oneself."

He spoke of Rousseau's ideal state, floating in a row boat on Lake Bienne near Neuchatel in Switzerland, "with no sign of the passing time, and no other feeling of deprivation or enjoyment, pleasure or pain, desire or fear than the simple feeling of existence, a feeling that fills our soul entirely ... as long as this state lasts, we can call ourselves happy."

Happiness for philosophers is clearly a contemplative life. But how will that fly with the masses?

For 72 years, researchers at Harvard University have followed 268 men from college through old age, subjecting them to all manner of physiological and psychological tests, in an effort to find out what makes people happy. We still don't have an answer.

A major problem for happiness researchers is that health can be empirically measured while happiness is self-reported. People report that time with family makes them happy, then say having children has diminished their happiness. They say money doesn't make them happy, but research finds a strong correlation between income and happiness. In fact, digging a little deeper into some of this research we find the quality under study is often not happiness but rather a "positive attitude" or "optimistic outlook."

One paper that surveyed the happiness literature came up with a key finding: While life expectancy grew in developed countries after the Second World War almost continuously, self-reported happiness did not increase and sometimes even decreased.

The decoupling of health and happiness indices should serve as a warning that happiness is not a permanent state of being but an unpredictable, ephemeral emotion, making it a flimsy foundation for public policy on health, economics or anything else.

A Language of Smiles, Olivia Judson, October 27 2009.

Say “eeee.” Say it again. Go on: “eeee.”

Maybe I’m easy to please, but doing this a few times makes me giggle. “Eeee.”

Actually, I suspect it’s not just me. Saying “eeee” pulls up the corners of the mouth and makes you start to smile. That’s why we say “cheese” to the camera, not “choose” or “chose.” And, I think, it’s why I don’t get the giggles from “aaaa” or “oooo.”

The mere act of smiling is often enough to lift your mood; conversely, the act of frowning can lower it; scowling can make you feel fed up. In other words, the gestures you make with your face can — at least to some extent — influence your emotional state.

(The notion that facial expressions affect mood isn’t new. Edgar Allan Poe used it in his story “The Purloined Letter”: one character reports that when he wishes to know someone’s mind, he attempts to compose his face to mimic the expression of that someone — then waits to see which emotions arise. And the idea was developed, in different ways, by both Charles Darwin and William James. But telling stories and developing arguments is one thing. Showing, experimentally, that making a face can make a mood is harder; it’s only in the past 30 years or so that data have started to accumulate.)

Exactly how frowns and smiles influence mood is a matter of debate. One possibility is classical conditioning. Just as Ivan Pavlov conditioned a dog to associate the sound of a bell with the expectation of food, the argument goes, so humans quickly come to associate smiling with feeling happy. Once the association has been established, smiling is, by itself, enough to generate happy feelings. Another possibility is that different facial gestures have intrinsic properties that make them more or less pleasant, perhaps by altering the way that blood flows to the brain.

But here’s what interests me. As anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language will know, different languages make you move your face in different ways. For instance, some languages contain many sounds that are forward in the mouth; others take place more in the throat. What’s more, the effects that different languages have on the movements of the face are substantial. Babies can tell the difference among languages based on the speaker’s mouth movements alone. So can computers.

Which made me wonder: do some languages contain an intrinsic bias towards pulling happy faces? In other words, do some languages predispose — in a subtle way — their speakers to be merrier than the speakers of other languages?

As far as I can tell, no one has looked at this. (It doesn’t mean no one has; it just means I haven’t been able to find it.) But I did find a smidgen of evidence to suggest the idea’s not crazy. A set of experiments investigating the effects of facial movements on mood used different vowel sounds as a stealthy way to get people to pull different faces. (The idea was to avoid people realizing they were being made to scowl or smile.) The results showed that if you read aloud a passage full of vowels that make you scowl — the German vowel sound ü, for example — you’re likely to find yourself in a worse mood than if you read a story similar in content but without any instances of ü. Similarly, saying ü over and over again generates more feelings of ill will than repeating a or o.

Of course, facial gestures aren’t the whole story of emotions; moreover, languages can potentially influence emotions in many other ways. Different languages have different music — sounds and rhythms — that could also have an emotional impact. The meanings of words may influence moods more than the gestures used to make them. And just as the words a language uses to describe colors affects how speakers of that language perceive those colors, different languages might allow speakers to process particular emotions differently; this, in turn, could feed into a culture, perhaps contributing to a general tendency towards gloom or laughter.

Separating these various factors will be difficult, and the overall impact on mood through the facial gestures of a language may well be small, if indeed it exists at all. Nevertheless, I’d love to know whether some languages, by the contortions they give the mouth, really do have an impact on their speakers’ happiness. If it turns out that there is a language of smiles, I’d like to learn it. In the meantime: have a giggle with “meeeeeee.”


For a fascinating overview of experiments on frowning, smiling and mood, see McIntosh, D. N. 1996. “Facial feedback hypotheses: evidence, implications, and directions.” Motivation and Emotion 20: 121-147. This paper also discusses possible ways that facial expressions can influence emotions including both the conditioning idea and the blood flow idea. Further experimental results can be found in, for example, Kleinke, C. L., Peterson, T. R., and Rutledge, T. R. 1998, “Effects of self-generated facial expressions on mood,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74: 272-279; see also Schnall, S. and Laird, J. D., “Keep smiling: Enduring effects of facial expressions and postures on emotional experience and memory,” Cognition and Emotion 17: 787-797; Flack, W. F. 2006, “Peripheral feedback effects of facial expressions, bodily postures, and vocal expressions on emotional feelings,” Cognition and Emotion 20: 177-195; and Duclos, S. E. and Laird, J. D. 2001, “The deliberate control of emotional experience through control of expressions,” Cognition and Emotion 15: 27-56.

Poe’s purloined letter can be read here. Darwin’s arguments about emotions can be found in his book, first published in 1872, “The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals”; James’s arguments are described in his book, first published in 1890, “The Principles of Psychology.”

For evidence that facial movements can affect the way blood flows to the brain, see McIntosh, D. N. et al. 1997, “Facial movement, breathing, temperature, and affect: Implications of the vascular theory of emotional efference,” Cognition and Emotion 11: 171-195.

For babies telling the difference among languages based on lip movements, see Weikum, W. M. et al. 2007, “Visual language discrimination in infancy,” Science 316: 1159. For computers being able to do this, see Newman, J. L. and Cox. S. J. 2009. “Automatic visual-only language identification: a preliminary study,” IEEE Proceedings of the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing vols 1-8: 4345-4348. A less technical account of the results are given here.

For my smidgen of evidence that the faces you pull when speaking a language can affect your mood, see Zajonc, R. B., Murphy, S. T. and Inglehart, M. 1989, “Feeling and facial efference: implications of the vascular theory of emotion,” Psychological Review 96: 395-416. This paper describes what happens if you read stories full of the “ü” sound, or are made to repeat it over and over again.

The idea that the words in a language can affect the thought processes of the speakers is often attributed to Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf; it has been controversial. However, some recent experimental evidence supports it, at least when it comes to processing colors. See, for example, Winawer, J. et al. 2007. “Russian blues reveal effects of language on color discrimination.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 7780-7785 and Regier, T. and Kay, P. 2009, “Language, thought, and color: Whorf was half right,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13: 439-446. The idea that emotions might be similarly affected has been discussed by Perlovsky, L. 2009, “Language and emotions: Emotional Sapir-Whorf hypothesis,” Neural Networks 22: 518-526.

This piece grew out of a conversation with Ismael Ludman about the different muscles used for speaking Spanish and German: many thanks. Many thanks also to Dan Haydon and Gideon Lichfield for insights, comments and suggestions.