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.


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