Sunday 11 December 2011

Mauer im Kopf.

The Wall in the Head.
Up, Down, Appendices, Additional Nonsense.

"It's not rocket science: when you find yourself at the bottom of a deep hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging. That simple logic, however, is utterly lacking here at the international climate negotiations in Durban."

                    (Kelly Rigg of TckTckTck in the Guardian)

"2020 is too late to wait. ... The United States government does not speak on my behalf."
                    (Abigail Borah speaking for herself)

"I was astonished and disturbed by the comments of my colleague from Canada who was pointing at us as to why we are against the roadmap. I am disturbed to find that a legally binding protocol to the Convention, negotiated just 14 years ago is now being junked in a cavalier manner. Countries which had signed and ratified it are walking away without even a polite goodbye. And yet, pointing at others."
                    (Jayanthi Natarajan, followed by a standing ovation as reported in the Times of India)

"It was minister Kent who convinced me yesterday that he understands the science and spoke about a disaster in the making."
                    (Mardi Tindal here and here, and read this vegepap: Longing for Leadership)

"... delegations have now adopted four very very critical outcomes and decisions that we believe are taking us forward in giant steps ..."
                    (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, final press conference, December 11, 2011)

"Right now the global climate regime amounts to nothing more than a voluntary deal that's put off for a decade."
                    (Kumi Naidoo)

Dilbert RetirementHere, some useful links: to the Cluster FCCC site and directly to their webcasts; to CAN International, to Elizabeth May and John Streiker of the Canadian Green Party, and to the Canadian Youth Delegation - CYD.

The only way I have found to actually see anything is searching Flickr for 'COP17' (and separately for 'COP-17' and 'COP 17') sorted by 'Recent', and CYD's pics (which you can't sort?). You can even find that dishonourable and elusive pimpernell, Peter Kent in there.

If you bring up one of the 'On Demand' cluster FCCC webcasts, right-click on the video area and select 'Properties/Location,' you can copy [CTRL-C] and paste [CTRL V] it into the 'Media/Advanced Open File/Network/Please enter a network URL:' box in VLC. If you then click 'Play' the webcast will (eventually, there is about a 30 second delay on my system) play inside VLC - and in the event you want to save some of it, you can use the 'Record' button (red dot on the left). A .asf file (Advanced Systems Format for Windows) will be saved to the location specified in the VLC Tools/Preferences/Video/Video snapshots/Directory; which can then be played with VLC or Windows Media Player. You can just change the suffix to .wmv if you like that better.

COP17 logo.COP(out)17, a(nother) bust!
A Cluster FCCC.

(Thanks to CYD and here for these last two excellent and accurate turns of phrase. "Brief, apt, and cogent expressions," indeed.)

aka Demise in Durban & Conference of the Polluters.   (? ¡ ¿ !)

For me, Severn Suzuki said it all in 1992 and now it's the fat lady singin' and we're done for. Oh my.

Poupette sleveen Peter Kent & Grand Poohbah sleveen Stephen Harper.Sub-deb sleveen Guy St. Jacques.K-k-Canada.You can watch Peter Kent, lame in both official languages, delivering k-k-Canada's mealy-mouthed cop-out here (also available, surprisingly, from Environment Canada - I would have expected them to hide their disgrace). It is easy to see that he doesn't believe a word of it. I suppose he deserves our pity and compassion for being obliged to parrot such nonsense; but none of our understanding should save him from being personally brought before the International Court of Justice as the vicious climate criminal he has proven himself to be.

There is applause in the middle of the speech which may seem strange to you, as it did to me. Some 'technical difficulty' perhaps? But no ...

Peter the Poppet: 'Oh, what a good boy am I!'Matthew Chisholm, Karen Rooney, James Hutt, Sonia Grant, Brigette DePape, Meghan McCarthy.Matthew Chisholm, Karen Rooney, James Hutt, Sonia Grant, Brigette DePape, Meghan McCarthy.Turns out people (representatives from governments around the world) are clapping for Matthew Chisholm, Karen Rooney, James Hutt, Sonia Grant, Brigette DePape, and Meghan McCarthy of CYD who stand up and turn their backs on Kent, for which they are applauded and then expelled. There are a few perfunctory claps following his speech - we can be grateful for that - and I think the guy in the front row doing it is Guy St. Jacques; planted there, nothing but a shill.

Shame! On the cabal of k-k-Canadian sleveens: sub-deb Guy St. Jacques, poupette Peter Kent, and the grand poohbah mucky-muck Stephen Harper; and upon all, and each, and, every(!) single(!) last(!) one(!) of their minions and transnational greed-head masters.

If I thought it made any sense to say it, it would be:
(But it doesn't really, does it.)

Abigail Borah.Another heroine at COP17 is Abigail Borah.

Here is a video of her action, and here is the 'official video' - I have not been able to identify the sneering nit-wit who says, "Nobody is listening to you," and who thinks the applause for Abigail is a welcome for Todd Stern, but if & when I do I will post his name here.

A minimal reporting by the NYT - and even so, the NYT has been only slightly better than and The Tyee in reporting on COP17. The Burlington Free Press gives a few details.

It is we who have been damned (if there is any such a thing on the go) and had our fate sealed by the mediocre and the venal.

Chris Hedges repeatedly uses this quotation: "Most people who seek power over others are either mediocre or venal," which is attributed to Karl Popper; in Open Society and Its Enemies some say, but I can't find it there (this is Scribd - beware), nor anything like it. If I can clear this up, I will. Regardless of provenance, these qualities apply to the entire UNFCCC and their abject failure to accomplish what was needed after twenty years of futile endeavour - and when I say 'entire' I am including, obviously, the sticks in the spokes: Stephen Harper and his poppet Peter Kent and Jim Prentice before him and Rona Ambrose before that, & Todd Stern ... all such like sleveens; and all of the diplomats and all of the politicians and all of the bureaucrats who permitted themselves to be duped, fooled into spending their lives at it.

Full stop.

Children! Beware of the Baobabs!I carried this sign down Yonge Street Saturday last in the afternoon, with a few hundred folks from Occupy Toronto. I had forgot that people in Toronto (The Good) do not speak French. Oh well; silly of me - honouring the author I thought; but he is long dead and knows no more of honour.

I meant it to say that all of the politicians, diplomats, bureaucrats, corporations - transnational and otherwise; and definitely including those associated with the Cluster FCCC - are Baobabs, and that because we have not been carefully tending our planet and digging them out before they can take root as recommended by the Little Prince, we have now to face dire catastrophes (in the words of Fatih Birol of the IEA).

George Osodi, gas flare.
George Osodi, gas flare.

Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhoon Coming On.
Leadership for tough times, that's what we offer.
No one got it. A pretty young thing, very pneumatic, said to me, "Oh, do you speak French?" and was promptly distracted from hearing my answer - I don't, but I can read it - by the attentions of a handsome young fellow. Oh well.

Fin de Chapitre V:
Et, sur les indications du petit prince, j'ai dessiné cette planète-là. Je n'aime guère prendre le ton d'un moraliste. Mais le danger des baobabs est si peu connu, et les risques courus par celui qui s'égarerait dans un astéroïde sont si considérables, que, pour une fois, je fais exception à ma réserve. Je dis: "Enfants! Faites attention aux baobabs!" C'est pour avertir mes amis du danger qu'ils frôlaient depuis longtemps, comme moi-même, sans le connaître, que j'ai tant travaillé ce dessin-là. La leçon que je donnais en valait la peine. Vous vous demanderez peut-être: Pourquoi n'y a-t-il pas dans ce livre, d'autres dessins aussi grandioses que le dessin des baobabs? La réponse est bien simple: J'ai essayé mais je n'ai pas pu réussir. Quand j'ai dessiné les baobabs j'ai été animé par le sentiment de l'urgence.

End of Chapter 5:
So, as the little prince described it to me, I have made a drawing of that planet. I do not much like to take the tone of a moralist. But the danger of the baobabs is so little understood, and such considerable risks would be run by anyone who might get lost on an asteroid, that for once I am breaking through my reserve. "Children," I say plainly, "watch out for the baobabs!" My friends, like myself, have been skirting this danger for a long time, without ever knowing it; and so it is for them that I have worked so hard over this drawing. The lesson which I pass on by this means is worth all the trouble it has cost me. Perhaps you will ask me, "Why are there no other drawing in this book as magnificent and impressive as this drawing of the baobabs?" The reply is simple. I have tried. But with the others I have not been successful. When I made the drawing of the baobabs I was carried beyond myself by the inspiring force of urgent necessity.

The photographs: A vision from George Osodi, of gas flares in Nigeria.
(He seems quite concerned about copyright so I will advertise his site and his book, Delta Nigeria: The Rape of Paradise, which uses the second image on its cover, but which I cannot afford to buy.)

Then a vision from the mid 1800's: J.W. Turner's 'Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying — Typhoon coming on', aka The Slave Ship; and as recently appropriated by Steve Bell, a cartoonist for the Guardian. The original was a bit less than a metre by a bit more than a metre, so you could likely see the hands in the waves in the foreground more easily.

FAO Food Price Index December.Oops! The FAO Food Price Index (or here) has levelled off in November.

A-and Jim Hansen (with a review at Real Climate and this in Scientific American ) turns it up a notch: "If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. ... If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects."

I guess it's like she said to me once - Easy come, easy go.
     (Sorry to see you go, rather see you come. :-)

Notes: (just a few terms I was not clear on)

The Umbrella Group: A loose coalition of non‐EU developed countries formed following the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. Although there is no formal list, the group is usually made up of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US.

ENSO: El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation. The statistical ENSO variability or 'noise' must be removed from temperature stats for the upward trend to be clearly seen; see Real Climate: Global Temperature News and Open Mind: The Real Global Warming Signal.

LULUCF: Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry.

(As soon as you start nibbling on these acronyms - you see clearly - or taste - one of the dimensions where the Cluster FCCC went so astray. The whining over lack of political will ... well, what is it about? Bureaucrats setting out to bewilder & baffle with bullshit; and lots of stupid acronyms is one of their preferred tools - to ensure a fat salary and job-security and a solid pension. If I were the king of it there would be ONE track called 'Global Environment Treaty' and anyone on the payroll who used an acronym outside of a scientific committee would get his or her pee-pee whacked.)

Mauer im Kopf / The Wall in the Head.The Psychology of Walls and Fences: Scaling the ‘Wall in the Head’, Costica Bradatan, November 27 2011. The essay is mundane, innocuous, trite - so I have not included it as an appendix - but two things were appealing, well, three: 1) he doesn't drag Robert Frost into it; 2) the memorable German phrase resonates so nicely for me with scheisskopf, schwarzkopf &etc.; and, 3) the wee discontinuity in the image.

This second one comes from the Canadian Youth Delegation in Durban - but you don't get the same ad every time, I was just lucky.
   (Oops, pissed 'em off again I guess - the ads seem to have disappeared and they answered my query in a way that says fcof in perfect k-k-Canadian, all good.)

A-and the last one - who could resist Elizabeth May coupled with Fruit of the Loom cotton panties with no visible panty line? (thanks to

A phenomenon so common on the Internet that it doesn't really bear mentioning.

A fnord, is that what it's called?
...         No, a fnord is dis-information - this is the opposite then; a tiny crack that lets in a tiny bit of light.

Christiana Figueres & Peter Kent.Oh, here it is then, the pièce de résistance, 'Two women of a certain age in Durban, wearing a single shit-eating grin that goes all the way around both of their heads, twice.'

Christiana Figueres & Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.Two more, well, one of them is the same.

Rodrigo Chaves - Aleja's Lifestyle.It looks like animated gif's don't run under Blogger, not for me anyway; the original is here and here. No idea what 'Aleja's Lifestyle' might mean.

(That's twice Leonard Cohen has come to mind within just a few minutes: once for "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in," and once for "I'm just staying home tonight, getting lost in that hopeless little screen.")

We have met the enemy and he is us.Chris Hedges exaggerates, sermonizes, exalts Bill McKibben - a multitude of sins - but I think he has got it about right, in the broad strokes at least.

Consider this paragraph from the last chapter of Death of the Liberal Class:
If we build small, self-contained structures, ones that do as little harm as possible to the environment, we can perhaps weather the collapse. This task will be accomplished through the creation of communities with access to sustainable agriculture, able to sever themselves as much as possible from commercial culture and largely self-sufficient. These communities will have to build walls against the electronic propaganda and fear that will be pumped out over the airwaves. Canada will probably be a more hospitable place to do this than the United States, especially given America's undercurrent of violence. But in any country, those who survive will need isolated areas of farmland distant from urban areas, which will see food deserts in the inner cities, as well as savage violence, spread outward across the urban landscape as produce and goods become prohibitively expensive and state repression becomes harsher and harsher.
Not a great paragraph; but put here because it contains an approximate recipe for at least short-term survival.

The whole of the last chapter is more worth reading than this paragraph; you can find it here.

If there is some single lost soul out there who is actually following this blog (which I doubt), you may remember me wondering what 'falling into a state of worthless existence' might look like back in July and August - Hedges elucidates this somewhat.

And I also said 'about right' advisedly; because there are numerous confusions, large and small: 1) about what the economy of a small, independent community might look like vis-à-vis copyright law; and, 2) between withdrawing into yourself and despair; and, 3) brought on by exaggeration, particularly with numbers, un-footnoted numbers, especially in the early chapters, which takes away somewhat from the power of this final chapter.

A-and, 4) the environmental/economic apocalypse will not strike everywhere simultaneously will it? Meaning that there could be a learning curve, albeit a steep one, for the leftards in say, North America, Brasil maybe ... (?)

Another paragraph from the last chapter:
The belief that we can make things happen through positive thoughts, by visualizing, by wanting them, by tapping into our inner strength, or by understanding that we are truly exceptional, is peddled to us by all aspects of the culture, from Oprah to the Christian Right. It is magical thinking. We can always make more money, meet new quotas, consume more products, and advance our careers. This magical thinking, this idea that human and personal progress is somehow inevitable, leads to political passivity. It permits societies to transfer their emotional allegiance to the absurd — whether embodied in professional sports or in celebrity culture — and ignore real problems. It exacerbates despair. It keeps us in a state of mass self-delusion. Once we are drawn into this form of magical thinking, the purpose, structure and goals of the corporate state are not questioned. To question, to engage in criticism of the corporate collective, is to be seen as obstructive and negative. And these cultural illusions have grossly perverted the way we view ourselves, our nation, and the natural world. This magical thinking, coupled with its bizarre ideology of limitless progress, holds out the promise of an impossible, unachievable happiness. It has turned whole nations, such as the United States, into self-consuming machines of death.
For a moment I thought he might take on the mavens of correctitude and the pervasive ideology-of-positivity of the leftards - he almost does - but who knows what he was thinking about? Perhaps it was his years as a journalist that ruined him in this way; I can't say. I guess that was 5).

Or is it a generational thing I wonder? Hedges is just about 10 years younger than me - I often trip over what seems to be a great divide hidden in those intervening years somewhere; and even the scientists, the demographers, identify 'late' and 'early' boomers - could that be it?

Hedges publishes about one book every year - comparable to Derrick Jensen. Stimulating cash-flow I guess - sorry to say that - but, what with young children to raise and all. Mies van der Rohe's dictum, "less is more" comes to mind and I wish for just one carefully written and thoroughly thought-out book from each of these guys.

That the reporting of COP17 by and The Tyee (whose URLs I will not include here anymore) has been soooo lame and useless proves at least one of Chris Hedges' theses ... unequivocally.

(Wrong! I found one good thing on Rabble.)

But I am left trying to fit things together: A) this 'Sermon' (on a very annoying website, and no way to link directly to the audio - scroll down a bit and you will see 'WEB EXCLUSIVES' and be able to listen) in Berkeley on May 2 - a sermon with a capital 'S'; compared and contrasted with B) a talk a month earlier in Dallas; and C) his eloquence at Occupy Wall Street; and finally, D) his latest book meandering (it seems to me) and ending up ... well, sort of, nowhere.

And I can't fit them together. (?)

Resources: Wikipedia,, truthdig.

So ... is Obama getting it then? Is that it?   Check out his speech in Osawatomie Kansas on December 6: Video Part 1 and Part 2 (about 1 hour total) and a transcript; and in the NYT, an article and an editorial.

Or is he just cynically co-opting Occupy?   They didn't make him Marketer of the Year in 2008 for nothing. (Did they?)

Is he changing his heart? Or his stripes?

Peanuts: Charlie Brown, Lucy & the football.Trouble is, he obviously 'got' climate change and knows how urgently we must act - I heard him say so (and wept to hear it too); but then, he did as little as he possibly could; witness Keystone XL. (?)

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Or something like that. Abraham Lincoln said that ... or, or ... W said that, or W tried to say it ... whatever.

Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle:
The End

He was sitting on a rock. He was barefoot. His feet were frosty with ice-nine. His only garment was a white bedspread with blue tufts. The tufts said Casa Mona. He took no note of our arrival. In one hand was a pencil. In the other was paper.
       "May I ask what you're thinking?"
       "I am thinking, young man, about the final sentence for The Books of Bokonon. The time for the final sentence has come."
       "Any luck?"
       He shrugged and handed me a piece of paper.
       This is what I read:

       If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.
Now, something about that 'grinning horribly' doesn't quite sit right. Maybe better a one-finger salute (which is the way I remembered it)? Or the muse from a few weeks ago with her hand against the glass?

"I'm stubborn as those garbage bags that Time cannot decay; I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet."

Be well.

("No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir."   Romeo & Juliet I, i)

Additional Nonsense:

A short excerpt from Moonfleet by J. Meade Falkner:
"The lump of tallow was worn down now; it was hard to say why the pin did not fall. Maskew gulped out 180, and Elzevir said 190, and then the pin gave a lurch, and I thought the Why Not? was saved, though at the price of ruin. No; the pin had not fallen, there was a film that held it by the point, one second, only one second. Elzevir's breath, which was ready to outbid whatever Maskew said, caught in his throat with the catching pin, and Maskew sighed out 200, before the pin pattered on the bottom of the brass candlestick."
And another from chapter 14 of The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy:
They lapsed again into silence. "You are anxious to get back to Scotland, I suppose, Mr. Farfrae?" she inquired.

"O no, Miss Newson. Why would I be?"

"I only supposed you might be from the song you sang at the Three Mariners — about Scotland and home, I mean — which you seemed to feel so deep down in your heart; so that we all felt for you."

"Ay — and I did sing there — I did — But, Miss Newson" — and Donald's voice musically undulated between two semi-tones as it always did when he became earnest — "it's well you feel a song for a few minutes, and your eyes they get quite tearful; but you finish it, and for all you felt you don't mind it or think of it again for a long while.
And from The Swallow:
He has two hearts instead of one
She cried, "Young man, what have ye done?"
(There, fit that together if you can and if you care to.)

Jean Billard was a French teacher at Beaconsfield High in the early 60's. French was compulsory. We were dunderheads. He raged at us - shouted, "Crétins!" - and we loved him for it. Well, some of us loved him for it, some others made his life difficult enough that he eventually left and took up teaching cinema at Sir George.

In those repressive years and precincts, crétin was as close as many of us had come to the foreign and exotic obscenities we yearned for.

He drove a decrepit rusted-out Volkswagen beetle with holes in the floor. His wife, beautiful and wild, was once seen screaming it around the turning circle on two wheels when she came to pick him up. It was an 'incident' and he was disciplined for it. There was more to it than just crétin you see - he sometimes told us the simple truth about things.

The badge of honour was to know him well enough to ask for a ride home. Those of us in Lakeside Heights and Valois took busses back and forth. Living south of the tracks y'unnerstan - in those days of level-crossings, school busses were not permitted to cross the tracks; which is why we went to Beaconsfield and not John Rennie. Of course we would sometimes miss the last bus and the first fallback was to check if Jean's car was still there, and if it was, wait for him to come out. He lived in Centre Ville - he was going our way.

He would say, "No, no, the exhaust is dangerous, no, no, no, I can't take you," and then a pause when we didn't move off, and then, "OK, get in ... open the windows."

He would drop us off somewhere on the 2-20 close to home. Thanks Jean.

You said what!?Back in September
(here & here) I was saying things like:

"I would bet big money, even single-malt scotch, that the bonds we created during this action will remain until they are strengthened."

Ha ha ha ha ha. You're CRAZY!and:

"That is what is most useful and important coming out of the day for me - that living connections are being established and renewed and strengthened - that we are not alone in this struggle."

I was so, so ... wrong.

I watched too many movies, read too many books, and somehow lost the ability to distinguish experience from illusion.

(Feckin' useless nutbar! Crack-pot.   Good fer not'ing!                I'm sorry ...     )


1. Rear-guard action at the Durban climate conference, Gwynne Dyer, December 1 2011.

2. Fact Check on Kyoto Distortions, Elizabeth May, 28 November 2011.

3. Ex-UN climate chief faults world leaders for failing to guide climate talks, Arthur Max, December 4 2011.

4. Kumi Naidoo: 'I hope sanity will prevail with climate change, just as it did with apartheid', John Vidal, Tuesday 6 December 2011.

5. Climate change is a matter of justice, Desmond Tutu & Mary Robinson, Monday 5 December 2011.

6. Ad Age Special Report: Marketer of the Year - Barack Obama, Ken Wheaton, October 17 2008.

See also: (external pdf's)

a. Who’s holding us back? How carbon-intensive industry is preventing effective climate legislation, Greenpeace, November 2011.

b. The Dirty Dozen in Durban, Greenpeace, November 2011.

c. World Energy Outlook 2011: Executive Summary, IEA, November 2011 (this is all I can find of it on-line).

Rear-guard action at the Durban climate conference, Gwynne Dyer, December 1 2011.

The plans for a new global deal on climate change lie broken and abandoned. The usual suspects are meeting again, this time in Durban, but there is even less hope of progress than there was in Cancun last year. The shadow of the disastrous failure in Copenhagen in 2009 still looms over the proceedings like a shroud.

Indeed, even to talk of “progress” is to miss the point. All the effort in Durban is going into preventing further backsliding on the commitments that were made 14 years ago in the Kyoto Protocol to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of the developed countries. The idea of a better, bolder treaty is dead, and even the extension of the modest Kyoto targets for emission reductions beyond 2012 is gravely in doubt.

So the real world of physics and chemistry and global heat balances will just have to wait 10 or 20 years while we human beings sort out our politics and diplomacy. If it won’t wait, then we will pay a very high price indeed. How did we get into this mess?

Every government in Durban, even those of “rogue states” on climate issues like China, Canada, Russia, and the United States, knows perfectly well that the danger of runaway global warming is real and large. Their own scientists tell them so, and their own military forces are drawing up plans to deal the consequences. But they do not act on their knowledge, because the politics around energy issues is poisonous.

Take Barack Obama, for instance. Look at the people he hired to advise him on climate and energy, and it’s clear that he knows exactly how bad the situation is. But he wants to be re-elected next year, and the climate change denial lobby has been so effective in the United States that he can’t afford to say out loud that he takes it very seriously.

Above all, he cannot deviate from the line first taken by George W. Bush, who withdrew from the Kyoto treaty. Bush vowed that he would never sign a treaty mandating emissions cuts by the United States so long as big developing countries like China and India did not have to make similar cuts. Obama says the same, because to do anything else would be political suicide.

His position is fully in tune with public opinion in the West, and especially in the United States, which sees the rapidly developing countries like China, India and Brazil as the heart of the problem. Their emissions are growing very fast because their economies are also growing fast, whereas the “old rich” countries have relatively stable emissions because their economies grow more slowly and they have already built their infrastructure.

It’s true, as far as it goes. The bulk of the astounding six percent increase in global greenhouse gas emissions last year came from China and the other emerging economies. China now emits as much carbon dioxide as the United States (though only a quarter as much per citizen). But that’s only what Western countries see, because it serves their purposes to be blind to the other side of the argument.

The view from China or India is quite different. They stress the fact that 80 percent of the greenhouse gases of human origin that are now in the atmosphere came from the small group of developed countries, which have been burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale for 200 years. They are the real source of the global warming threat, even though they have now more or less stabilised their emissions.

Indeed, if the developed countries had not filled the atmosphere with their emissions for the past 200 years, there would be plenty of room for China and the other developing countries to grow their economies for decades to come, even using fossil fuels on a very large scale, without causing any significant warming. To the developing countries, this is the most important fact of all.

They are right, and the fact that the rich countries ignore their huge historical responsibility for the warming is the reason why a global deal on avoiding large-scale climate change is still close to impossible. You can’t insist that everybody must make equal cuts in their emissions when one group bears much more responsibility for the problem than the other.

Everybody at Durban knows what a climate deal would look like if it ever got signed. It would require deep cuts in emissions from the developed countries (40 percent in 10 years, perhaps), while only asking the emerging economies to cap their emissions where they are now.

Even if they cap their emissions, they would be unwilling to halt their economic growth, so they would need more energy supplies. The new energy would have to come from “clean” power sources like wind, solar, and nuclear, and those are more expensive than just burning fossil fuels. Who would cover the difference in cost? The richer countries, of course, because they bear the burden of historical responsibility.

People care a lot about fairness, and only a fair deal that recognises the importance of this history will ever get signed. Since most people in the West don’t even know the history, and their governments show no sign of wanting to enlighten them, the deal is not going to get signed any time soon.

Fact Check on Kyoto Distortions, Elizabeth May, 28 November 2011.

It has been a good week for the Harper Communications Machine. Peter Kent is a very effective spokesperson. The lines and spin work well. I like Peter Kent as a person. He is extremely kind in many ways. But his job in Cabinet is not unlike his job as a TV reporter. Read the news. Now he reads the spin.

Whether on CBC’s The Current and The House, or on CTV Question Period he gets away with enormous distortions.

Here are some of the most often repeated. At least when you see them you can hit the comment pages of the media websites and try to correct the garbage.

Distortion Number one: Kyoto doesn’t include most countries.

Fact Check: Actually, 191 countries have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, the only countr/y outside of Kyoto is the United States.

The element of truth in the distortion is that the first Kyoto Period, 2008-2012, by design required industrialized countries to hit specific targets and deadlines. This approach was modelled on the successful 1987 Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer. In that protocol, industrialized countries took on emission targets in the first phase, while developing countries could actually increase emissions. Subsequent agreements within the Montreal Protocol brought all countries to phase out ozone depleting substances.

Under Kyoto, the developing countries took on the commitment to reduce emissions in a more general way. Brazil has done far more than Canada without specific targets. So too have India and China.

Distortion Number two: Kyoto has failed.

Fact Check: Most of the countries in the industrialized world have met or exceeded their Kyoto targets. The EU as a unit has exceeded its target. Japan has reduced emissions below 1990 levels but falls short of its target. Canada is the only country within the Kyoto Protocol to have repudiated our legally binding obligations.

Moreover, Kyoto is not merely a set of targets to 2012. It is a very detailed set of agreements that cover monitoring, reporting, credits, adaptation, and other mechanisms that took years to negotiate.

Distortion Number three: The Copenhagen Accord is a substitute for Kyoto. Kent calls it a “breakthrough.”

Fact Check: The Copenhagen Accord was not a result of negotiation in the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. In Copenhagen at COP15, Obama brought a handful of countries to meet him privately, came up with two pages, described as “politically binding.” The document called for cuts to keep emissions below the level that would lead to a 2 degree C global average temperature increase. (Since then the IPCC has evaluated the various non-binding pledges of the Copenhagen Accord countries and found them dangerously high and guaranteed to send emissions to levels that will far exceed 2 degrees C global average temperature increase).

It pledged billions to developing countries for adaptation. When brought back to the conference late Friday night on the closing day, the low lying island states denounced it as sacrificing their futures. The head of the Tuvalu delegation said, “In Biblical terms, you are offering us thirty pieces of silver for our children’s future. Our children’s future is not for sale.”

All through the Friday night through to Saturday mid-morning, pressure was brought on nations to accept the Copenhagen document. The compromise in the final COP15 decision was that the COP “takes note” of the Copenhagen Accord. The Copenhagen Accord is not real. It is political spin and PR.

Distortion Number four: Canada’s position is “reasonable.”

Fact Check: Canada is the only country within the legally binding targets of Kyoto to ignore them. Canada was the first country to invent new targets using the non-Kyoto base year of 2006, when all other countries were using 1990. Canada created the opening for the US to also move to a base-year of 2005, which Canada then followed because it further reduced how far we would have to reduce GHG to hit the target.

Canada was the first industrialized country to refuse to enter into negotiations for a second commitment period under Kyoto. In Cancun at COP16, the possibility of a second commitment period under Kyoto was kept alive. Since then, Canada’s efforts have been to block success. Canada created space for Japan and Russia to move away from a second commitment period.

Distortion number five: We can control greenhouse gases through another, non-Kyoto approach and get large emitters in the developing world on board, such as China, India and Brazil.

Fact Check: Developing nations as a block have threatened that if the industrialized world does not continue to work within the Kyoto framework, they will walk. The negotiations to control GHG run the risk of collapse - just as time is running out to get a binding reductions.

The situation is dire. And last night CTV reported that the Harper government has plans to withdraw as a Kyoto party, but to save the announcement until December 23. This reveals the final level of cynicism and duplicity.

Canadians want real action to protect our children’s future. The Prime Minister knows the vast majority of Canadians will not approve of formally withdrawing from Kyoto, after whatever damage we can inflict at the Durban talks which open tomorrow. So save the nasty news until after the House has risen and most of us are thinking about our children’s Christmas stockings and getting the turkey ready.

It is for our children that we must mobilize. Somehow, we must force even the majority government to back down and accept that we have a moral obligation to negotiate in good faith. We must support a second phase of Kyoto and we must bring down emissions.

Ex-UN climate chief faults world leaders for failing to guide climate talks, Arthur Max, December 4 2011.

DURBAN, South Africa - Yvo de Boer said he left his job as the U.N.'s top climate official in frustration 18 months ago, believing the process of negotiating a meaningful climate agreement was failing. His opinion hasn't changed.

"I still have the same view of the process that led me to leave the process," he told The Associated Press Sunday. "I'm still deeply concerned about where it's going, or rather where it's not going, about the lack of progress."

For three years until 2010, the Dutch civil servant was the leading voice on global warming on the world stage. He appeared constantly in public to advocate green policies, travelled endlessly for private meetings with top leaders and laboured with negotiators seeking ways to finesse snags in drafting agreements.

In the end he felt he "wasn't really able to contribute as I should be to the process," he said.

Today he can take a long view on his years as a Dutch negotiator in the 1990s and later as a senior U.N. official with access to the highest levels of government, business and civil society. He is able to voice criticisms he was reluctant to air when he was actively shepherding climate diplomacy.

Negotiators live "in a separate universe," and the ongoing talks are "like a log that's drifted away," he said. Then, drawing another metaphor from his rich reservoir, he called the annual 194-nation conferences "a bit of a mouse wheel."

De Boer spoke to the AP on the sidelines of the latest round of talks in this South African port city, which he is attending as a consultant for the international accounting firm KPMG.

Elsewhere in Durban Sunday, the South African host of the talks called for divine help at a climate change church service organized by the South African Council of Churches.

"We needed to pray for (an) acceptable, balanced outcome, that has a sense of urgency," said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who as South Africa's foreign minister is president of the Durban round of negotiations. Priests laid their hands on her head in blessing during the service.

De Boer said world leaders have failed to become deeply engaged in efforts to reach an international accord to control greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming. In recent years, their inattention has been compounded by their preoccupation with the economic and Eurozone crises.

Negotiators have been at the job so long — since the 1992 climate convention — that they have lost touch with the real world, he said. But it wasn't their fault.

"I completely understand that it is very difficult for a negotiator to move if you haven't been given a political sense of direction and the political space to move," he said, chatting on a hilltop terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Rather than act in their own national interests, many leaders look to see what others are willing — or unwilling — to concede.

"You've got a bunch of international leaders sitting 85 stories up on the edge of a building saying to each other, you jump first and I'll follow. And there is understandably a reluctance to be the first one to jump," he said.

The 2009 Copenhagen summit was a breaking point. Expectations soared that the conference would produce an accord setting firm rules for bringing down global carbon emissions. When delegates fell short, hopes remained high that President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, most of Europe's heads of government and more than 100 other top leaders would save the day at the last minute.

De Boer said he spent the last 24 hours of the summit in "a very small and very smelly room" with about 20 prime ministers and presidents, but the time was not ripe for the hoped-for international treaty.

Obama still hoped to push domestic legislation through the Senate, and any prior commitment to a U.N. treaty would have killed his chances. The bill died anyway. China and India, too, were not ready in Copenhagen to accept internationally binding limits on their emissions.

Many Americans, he said, have still not bought into the "green story," he said. In the meantime, the U.S. is losing a competitive edge against China, which is investing heavily to shift the course of its economy — from which it will benefit regardless of the global warming issue, he said.

Despite their failures, De Boer said he thought most leaders sincerely want a deal on climate change.

"I do not see the negotiating process being able to rise to that challenge, being capable of delivering on that," he said. "I believe the sincerity on the part of world leaders is there, but it's almost as though they do not have control of the process that's supposed to take them there."

Kumi Naidoo: 'I hope sanity will prevail with climate change, just as it did with apartheid', John Vidal, Tuesday 6 December 2011.

Greenpeace International's director says the struggle for climate justice is similar to the fight against apartheid

A few hours after Greenpeace activists invaded a business meeting in Durban on Monday, the organisation's international director, Kumi Naidoo, went to the Durban central prison where some of them had been taken. It was a painful case of deja vu, he says. They were being held in the very same cells that he and other anti-apartheid activists had so often been chucked in the 1980s.

Naidoo is a Durban man. The city and the long South African struggle against apartheid in the 1970s and 80s shaped him, and his return last week for the UN climate talks as one of the world's most influential environmental activists brings back the memories.

The route that 20,000 people on a civil society march took at the weekend included several places where he had been arrested and beaten up for opposing apartheid. He had been at school with two of the policemen who came to the arrest the Greenpeace activists; and South Beach, where we talked, was where his father used to bring him to show him where the white kids and no one else were allowed to play.

"The first time I heard about Robben island [where Nelson Mandela and other African National Congress leaders were imprisoned] was when I was about 10. My brother asked Dad why we could not play on the beach. He said 'don't ask. You'll end up on Robben island'. We kept asking each other what it was."

Naidoo's family is Indian working class. They had been forcibly resettled with thousands of others to Chatsworth township, about 30 miles out of the Durban, and he grew up with a picture of Gandhi on the wall, even though the Indian liberation activist had left Durban before he was born.

The Soweto uprising of 1976, anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko's murder in prison and, especially, the student uprising in 1979, all developed his radicalism, he says. He was twice expelled from school for organising opposition to apartheid, but each time challenged the government in the courts and was reinstated.

"We had very conservative teachers. Once I was asked to write an essay about the two people I admired the most. I said Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. My teacher said: 'You want me to get killed? You want me to mark this radical shit?' "

"In one sense I am grateful to the apartheid regime. It made me a full-time activist. My brother and I made a pact that we would give our lives to the struggle."

Naidoo went on to run a children's home, and became a community organiser, where he was arrested several times and charged for violating the state of emergency, and civil disobedience. He ducked underground, worked in Zimbabwe and then spent four years in exile in England.

"I considered very much joining the ANC armed struggle. Apartheid in itself was a system of violence. But my first influence was Gandhi. I was more interested in the politics. It was a very emotionally traumatic time. I was a teenager. I fully understood the choices people made. You have to remember the ANC was a religion in those days."

The 1994 elections changed everything. "Suddenly we had friends who were cabinet ministers, or generals. But I felt we had to evolve a new way of addressing power. We came up with the idea of 'critical solidarity'. I founded the South African National NGO coalition but I began to realise that even if we had the cleanest politicians, the most anti-corrupt leaders, the whole nature of power had changed so much that there was only so much that we could do.

Naidoo then spent 10 years "on the road", leading the Make Poverty History campaign and other civil society groups. "Real power was shifting to the global level. Even with the best president there is no way he would make progress on things like environment and trade, even things like HIV/Aids," he says.

He has been criticised for not being an environmentalist, but he responds that the struggle for human and climate justice is similar to that against apartheid. Apartheid was a system of differentiation and injustice maintained by the powerful in the same way as governments and industries abuse nature.

"Apartheid affected one country but challenged the world. This is about the future. The bunch of adults leading us today are sleepwalkers, saying one thing about climate change yet doing nothing.

"For some, like the Turkana people in northern Kenya, the tipping point has already come. It is so unfair that the poor will pay for climate change with their lives.

"What I see now is very similar to the moment of change from apartheid to democracy. I think there was a moment in 1988 when you felt that the writing was on the wall for apartheid. The system was crumbling. I am hoping that sanity will now prevail with climate change and the environment, just as it did with apartheid. It may be naive optimism, but I believe we are at that point now. We are seeing the last kicks of the climate deniers' horse."

Returning to Durban hurts, though. "We have had 15 years of democracy and there are still 20 million people here in poverty. What hurts me most is that our government keeps talking about concern about climate change, yet 2.5 million people do not even have electricity and the government is building two of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world."

He says his daughter convinced him to go for the Greenpeace job. "She was in London and had seen me on the BBC. I was in the 19th day of a hunger strike and looking like a skeleton. She said: 'Dad, go for it. Greenpeace is about the future. It talks and it acts.' She even helped me fill in the form."

Climate change is a matter of justice, Desmond Tutu & Mary Robinson, Monday 5 December 2011.

The rich countries caused the problem, but it is the world's poor who suffer. The Durban climate talks must right this wrong

Before the Copenhagen climate change summit two years ago, the two of us sat together in Cape Town to listen to five African farmers from different countries – four of whom were women – tell us how climate change was undermining their livelihoods. Each explained how floods and drought, and the lack of regular seasons to sow and reap, were outside their normal experience. Their fears are shared by subsistence farmers and indigenous people worldwide – the people who are bearing the brunt of climate shocks, even though they played no part in causing them.

Now, two years later, we are in Durban, where South Africa is hosting this year's climate change conference, COP17, and the situation for poor people in Africa and elsewhere has deteriorated even further. In its latest report, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that it is virtually certain that, in global terms, hot days have become hotter and occur more often; indeed, they have increased in frequency by a factor of 10 in most regions of the world.

Moreover, the brutal paradox of climate change is that heavy precipitation is occurring more often as well, increasing the risk of flooding. Since 2003, east Africa has had the eight warmest years on record which is no doubt contributing to the severe famine that now afflicts 13 million people in the Horn of Africa.

These are the consequences that a mere 1C of warming above pre-industrial levels have wrought. The UN Environment Programme's recently published report, Bridging the Emissions Gap, shows that over the course of this century, warming will likely rise to 4C unless we take stronger action to cut emissions. Yet the latest evidence demonstrates that we are not acting – the International Energy Agency's World Energy Report 2011 reveals that CO2 emissions have rebounded to a record high.

We are alarmed that expectations for COP17 are so low. Where is the global leadership that must respond urgently? We desperately need a global deal.

At the heart of this deal is the preservation of the Kyoto protocol. The protocol is not a perfect instrument. It does too little to cut global emissions, and it requires too few countries are to cut their emissions growth. But it is part of international law, and that is vital.

Climate change is a global problem: if countries are not confident that others are addressing it, they will not feel an imperative to act themselves. So, having a legal framework with clear and common rules to which all countries are committed is critically important – and the only assurance we have that action will be taken to protect the most vulnerable.

The first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol expires at the end of 2012. So the European Union and the other Kyoto parties (the United States never ratified the agreement, and the protocol's terms asked little of China, India, and other emerging powers) must commit to a second commitment period, in order to ensure that this legal framework is maintained.

At the same time, all countries must acknowledge that extending the lifespan of the Kyoto protocol will not solve the problem of climate change, and that a new or additional legal framework that covers all countries is needed. The Durban meeting must agree to initiate negotiations towards this end – with a view to concluding a new legal instrument by 2015 at the latest.

All of this is not only possible; but also necessary, because the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy makes economic, social, and environmental sense. The problem is that making it happen requires political will, which, unfortunately, seems in short supply.

Climate change is a matter of justice. The richest countries caused the problem, but it is the world's poorest who are already suffering from its effects. In Durban, the international community must commit to righting that wrong.

Political leaders must think inter-generationally. They need to imagine the world of 2050, with its 9 billion people, and take the right decisions now to ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a liveable world.

Ad Age Special Report: Marketer of the Year - Barack Obama, Ken Wheaton, October 17 2008.

Adaptable Team Stays on Message While Using Social Networking to Build Voter Roles

Detractors may mock Barack Obama these days as a celebrity, a candidate who promises little more than vague abstractions such as "hope" and "change." But no one should forget that he usurped the inevitable Clinton machine and has been considered the man to beat in this election.

Not too shabby for an African-American, first-term Democratic senator from Illinois (with the funny-sounding name) who was considered a long shot when Election 2008 got off to an early start back in 2006.

How did he do it? The first step was taking the lessons learned from the Howard Dean campaign four years ago and turning them into internet-based fundraising that stunned Democrats and Republicans alike. In the most obvious example of what happened, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who thought that by sewing up the party's biggest fundraisers she had closed out rivals, found not only that it didn't matter but that the old way of raising money couldn't compete with the new way.

That new way didn't simply use e-mail to complement direct mail and other old-fashioned methods. The Obama campaign tapped into the latest developments of social networking. It hired Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook. What the team ended up creating wasn't simply a way to earn more money from small donors than previously thought possible; it created an Obama-specific network that took advantage of and built upon the movement-like quality of the Obama campaign. By the time other candidates on either side of the aisle got around to copying, they were too late to the party.

The website itself was a rarity for political campaigns, says Brian Collins, founder of experiential-branding firm Collins. "On one hand, it's intimate. The language is informal. Personal. It has an inviting, matter-of-fact appeal," he says. "On the other hand, it looks like it has scale -- and momentum. It's instantly appealing. ... By contrast, [John] McCain's site looks like a 1988 Sears circular."

14% of Barack Obama's online traffic in August came from paid search
$2.8M Amount the Obama campaign spends daily on ads, almost double what McCain spends

How did all of that pay off? In July alone, the Obama campaign raised $51 million. More than 65,000 new donors contributed. His fund-raising prowess has allowed him to forgo public funding for the general election and will likely allow him to easily outspend Mr. McCain.

Mr. Obama didn't raise all that money and vault to the top just because he's a decent public speaker or because of a snazzy web application. He's had some help from his opponents and help from his team.

His campaign team has had a firm grasp of branding, messaging and old-fashioned political ground organization. It's also been able to balance mass marketing with social media and niche marketing. Mr. Obama's team is led by chief strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe, both from agency AKP&D Message and Media. Mr. Axelrod, along with veteran GMMB strategist Jim Margolis, have headed the ad team. After locking up the primary campaign, Team Obama also enlisted a stable of agencies including Murphy Putnam Media, Squier Knapp Dunn Communications, Shorr Johnson Mag-nus, Dixon Davis Media and SS&K.

Message across many platforms
The campaign's "remarkable consistency is the real accomplishment," Mr. Collins says. "Across towns, counties, states -- and with thousands of volunteers, no less -- across multiple media platforms, they've managed to drive a potent, single-minded design and messaging coherence that should shame many national brands. I mean, this is close to a level of design strategy from a great brand like Nike or Target." (Perhaps not so coincidentally, one of the first applications available for the new iPhone this past summer was an Obama-themed "Countdown for Change" calendar.)

The team has also gotten a boost from the kind of consumer-generated media that mainstream marketers would die for. In fact, much of this consumer-generated material has been produced by professionals. When entertainer put together a music video featuring celebrities reading an Obama speech, it climbed to the top of YouTube and sat there.

None of that is to discredit the candidate himself and the cool factor that's built up about him. Those celebrities may seem like a liability at times, but you can bet that the Republicans wouldn't be making such a big issue of "celebrity" if their party had a few hundred A-listers (as opposed to a handful of B-, C- and D-listers) eager to get the word out. And the Obama campaign hasn't been shy about appropriating outside work when it fits in with the overall branding. Case in point: After artist Shepard Fairey did a few pro-Obama pieces, the Obama team reached out to the artist.

Much of that celebrity isn't so much old-school Hollywood liberalism as much as it is youthful enthusiasm. And there, too, Mr. Obama has been able to do something Mr. Dean couldn't quite do in 2004 -- get the youth vote (as well as new voters) to actually turn up at the polls. According to Mr. Plouffe, two-thirds of those caucusing for Mr. Obama in Iowa had never caucused before.

And while the design and the cool factor and celebrity get a lot of the credit, ground organization -- the political world's version of word-of-mouth marketing -- has played a key role. Consider the use of Invesco Field in Denver for the Democratic National Convention. Many focused on the visual trappings of the event. Even some Democrats worried that the venue made the candidate seem egotistical and could reinforce the image of Mr. Obama's supporters as fanatics. But one of Mr. Plouffe's key concerns was the 20,000-25,000 Colorado voters who attended the event -- people who'd agreed to organize in the state for Mr. Obama's presidential campaign.

And the Invesco Field event was seen as a good way to make strong inroads in Colorado. (It was also a good way to break TV viewing records, which, of course, were broken again one week later by Mr. McCain.)

Steady hand
Ultimately, like many a No. 1 brand, the Obama campaign simply acts like it's the category leader. One of the hallmarks of the Obama campaign is that it just doesn't panic. Faced with PR nightmares such as Jeremiah Wright and Mr. Obama's own remarks about bitter rural voters who cling to guns and religion, the candidate didn't stumble over himself to rush out an apology. He set the pace and stuck to it.

At times, it's led to the candidate seeming stubborn -- as with his reluctance to say anything positive about the surge in Iraq and the camp's insistence on sticking to a "More of the same" tagline painting John McCain as a George W. Bush clone despite focus groups and polling numbers indicating that swing voters weren't buying the claim.

But in the past few weeks, the slow, methodical approach has seemed to pay off. While Team McCain threw up ad after ad and tried to carve out a position during the financial crisis, Team Obama seemed to move at a slower pace, content to let Mr. McCain flail and then use his own words against him. Indeed, as the economy melted down and Mr. McCain's ad messaging went 100% negative, the Obama campaign's decision to hang onto the "More of the same" trope was starting to look like yet another piece of smart marketing.


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