Up, Down, Clues.
Contents: Explanation, Book-keeping The UN, Reality Check What to do?, Clues.
"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
This ... is a blow-by-blow of an encounter with a book - nothing more. The first instalment was a few weeks ago (here). I have still not finished reading the book (being now somewhat past the mid-point) so there may be more.
An indulgence then, along the lines of some evangelical magazine I remember seeing on someone's shelf entitled 'What to do until the saviour comes.' (or some such bosh).
The section on the UN is an attempt to do something useful in response (beyond finding typos).
Book-keeping: (pardon the pun)
It turns out that Oxford University Press is in the US now, as well as the UK. And their catalogues are different, check this out: The Mirror of the Gods is on the US site but not the UK site at all (?) What's that about?
'A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change' is up at Google Books (some pages omitted); you can find the preface, a short excerpt from Chapter 5: A Fairy Tale, and final conclusion; and himself.
What is the rational response? by Malcolm Bull, May 2012.
Reviewed by Holmes Rolston III, July 2011.
Reviewed by Ole Pedersen, May 2012.
Saving the world - Dashwood style by Steve Yearley, July 2011.
The Page 99 Test (by himself) June 2011.
Reviewed (p44ff) by Andrew Winters, May 2012.
Reviewed (briefly) by Megan Blomfield, no date.
Reviewed by Karmen Marguč, 2011 (locked).
Reviewed by Robin Whitlock, October 2011.
Background: (the 2006 essay)
A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption, and a summary by Joshua Kurdys from 2009 (of about the same length as the original).
Still looking for a copy of Climate Ethics: Essential Readings by Steve Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson, and Henry Shue, August 2010; and for an essay titled 'are we deadbeats?' or something like that ...
Small mysteries resolved: (and not)
Steve Gardiner's remarkable accent is explained in Steve Yearley's review; and the 'M' is for Mark.
Malcolm Bull's cattiness is still only a surmise but ... I wonder if he had a bad reaction to 'The Fairy Tale' (see here). Is he a boomer? (They can be touchy and that would explain it but he doesn't seem to be.) In any event the fact that he simply doesn't get it is entirely evidenced in the title of his review. And yet he is an Oxford lecturer in art and apparently a serious writer (?)
One way or the other Bull is misled (mīsl'd); but this little parable, 'The Fairy Tale', could be an unexpected entrée I thinks, into the relatively well-concealed emotional side of our Steve. Completely different from all that comes before it. When I have finished the book (to be able to say 'and all that comes after') there may be more about it.
"Aha!" (looking at the Table of Contents some weeks ago) "Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, something to look forward to." Then I watched this video 'Climate Change and Intergenerational Equity and Ethics' from the Three Degrees Conference at the University of Washington School of Law in May of 2009. Instead of using the text he shows video clips. Not strictly speaking literary then; films as well, and this is not a bad thing; his discussion of Sense and Sensibility in the book does focus on the text (and he has read lots more of Austen) - but something is off. He calls Austen's treatment 'subtle' (?); seems to mistake "and for many days successively, and he did not repent," for solidity (?); and then there is the limp in the gitalong of his little allegorical parable already mentioned ... fits, begins to fit ... (and there is a strange use of 'presumably' near the top of p335.)
The UN: (Not!)
1968: Economic and Social Council resolution 1346 (XLV) recommends 'a conference'.
-: General Assembly resolution 2398 (XXIII) 'convenes' the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
1972: United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm establishes United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
1973: science of CFCs understood, published 1974.
1978: the United States bans nonessential use of CFCs.
1985: Vienna Conference 'Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer' (led by the US and at second-hand by UNEP).
1987: 'Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer'.
1988: General Assembly resolution 44/228 convenes the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development aka 'Rio Conference' & 'Earth Summit'.
1992: Montreal Protocol strengthened - see The Evolution of Policy Responses to Stratospheric Ozone Depletion by Peter Morisette (1989); and The Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: Report and Reflection, Ian Rowlands (1993).
-: [Sadly, using the Montreal Protocol as a shining example of global cooperation doesn't quite wash. Like herding cats, nailing a blob of mercury, sweeping water &etc. the situation is profoundly problematic. Some general background on refrigeration is useful (the 'traditional' gas is now consisdered to be CFCs - when I was a boy it was ammonia); and this recent spread in the NYT gives some perspective as well.]
1995: COP 1, Berlin - COP is Conference of the Parties signing on to the UNFCCC Framework Climate Convention.
1996: COP 2, Geneva.
1997: (March, August & October) Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI)/Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) in Bonn; &
-: (December) COP 3, Kyoto - Kyoto Protocol 'adopted' (to come into force in 2005).
1998: (June & November) SBI/SBSTA in Bonn; &
-: COP 4, Buenos Aires.
1999: (June) SBI/SBSTA in Bonn; &
-: (October/November) COP 5, Bonn.
2000: (June & August) SBI/SBSTA in Bonn & Lyon; &
-: COP 6, The Hague.
2001: (June) COP 6 continued in Bonn; &
-: (November) COP 7, Marrakech.
2002: (June) SBI/SBSTA in Bonn; &
-: (October/November) COP 8, New Delhi.
2003: (June) SBI/SBSTA in Bonn; &
-: (December) COP 9, Milan.
2004: (December) COP 10, Buenos Aires.
2005: (May) SBI/SBSTA in Bonn; &
-: (December) COP 11/MOP 1, Montreal - MOP is Meeting of the Parties signed on to Kyoto.
2006: (May) SBI/SBSTA/Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) in Bonn; &
-: (November) COP 12/MOP 2, Nairobi.
2007: (May) SBI/SBSTA/AWG-KP in Bonn; &
-: (December) COP 13/MOP 3, Bali - Yvo de Boer weeps.
2008: (April, June & August) AWG-KP/Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA)/SBI/SBSTA/AWG-LCA in Bangkok, Bonn & Accra; &
-: (December) COP 14/MOP 4, Poznań.
2009: (April, June, August, September/October, November) SBI/SBSTA/AWG-KP/AWG-LCA in Bonn, Bangkok & Barcelona; &
-: (December) COP 15/MOP 5, Copenhagen - Yvo de Boer weeps again, quits soon after.
2010: (April, May/June, August, October) SBI/SBSTA/AWG-KP/AWG-LCA in Bonn & Tianjin; &
-: (December) COP 16/MOP 6, Cancún.
2011: (April, June, October) SBI/SBSTA/AWG-KP/AWG-LCA in Bangkok, Bonn & Panama City; &
-: (November/December) COP 17/MOP 7, Durban; &
-: Canada officially withdraws from Kyoto.
2012: UNCSD PREPCOM I - 17-19 May 2010, New York; First Intersessional Meeting - 10-11 January 2011, New York; UNCSD PREPCOM II - 7-8 March 2011, New York; numerous Regional and Sub-Regional meetings here and there (always somewhere exotic); Second Intersessional Meeting - 15-16 December 2011, New York; Initial Discussions of the Zero Draft - 25-27 January 2012, New York; First “Informal Informal” Consultations and Third Intersessional Meeting - 19-27 March 2012, New York; Stockholm+40 - 23-25 April 2012, Stockholm; Second “Informal Informal” Consultations - 23 April to 4 May 2012, New York; Third “Informal Informal” Consultations - 29 May to 2 June 2012, New York; PrepCom III - 13-15 June, Rio de Janeiro; &
-: (June) Rio+20; &
-: (May/June) SBI/SBSTA/AWG-KP/AWG-LCA in Bonn; &
-: COP 18/MOP 8, Qatar.
So, the cluster-fuck grows like Topsy (no disrespect intended to Topsy), fifty years squandered ... blah blah blah ... nice work if you can get it I guess.
One doesn't want to look, wants to boycott the thing with the only vector available - stifling of interest - but this is very hard to actually do, moth to the flame and all that. So then, how to cut through the mass media nonsense to get a shape of what is happening? The UNFCCC and UNCSD put it all out there, including videos & webcasts but all becomes too much, becomes a full-time job since it is not very well organized - more like a blizzard. So one turns to the green politicians (who have flown over to wherever it is natürlich), to their blogs and so on - for the likes of this: "There’s a sense of awe, wonder and exhaustion in the air. There’s a lot of work ahead to bring all this together. But if humanity can agree on this much here, it give me profound hope.[sic]" (Adriana Mugnatto on Cancun.)
There are pros and semi-pros too - examples of naïve viewpoints from the well-embedded on the Durban outcome:
IISD: "After the frustrations at the Copenhagen conference and the struggle to rescue the multilateral climate regime in Cancun, negotiators in Durban turned a corner and not only resuscitated the Kyoto Protocol but, in doing so, adopted a decision that will lead to negotiations on a more inclusive 21st century climate regime. There was a strong sense that elements of the Durban package, guided by a need to fulfill long overdue commitments that go back to the Bali Roadmap, restored sufficient momentum for a new negotiation process, one that will continue to witness a ..." Tuesday, 13 December 2011.It is only years later, when someone like Steve Gardiner lays it out plain that you can even feel hesitantly, tentatively, justified in mooting, more-or-less privately, such an outlandish opinion as, "This is utter nonsense!".
ECO: "Durban was a critical turning point for the future of the climate regime. While it resulted in what negotiators called a delicate balance, it left much for the Parties to do afterwards, in particular the need to tackle the glaring gap in reducing global emissions and providing climate finance. ECO was relieved that after hard fought battles, a sense of responsibility and leadership prevailed in Durban. Parties were willing to set aside their hardline positions in the interest of reaching an agreement ..." Friday, 25 May 2012.
[And whispering quietly, like Pynchon's Slothrop, "Fuck you."]
Two editorials from Nature (twenty years apart, somewhat more sublime nonsense): Two successful weeks at Rio, 8 June 1992; and, Back to Earth, 7 June 2012.
Some of what is said on the web about Maurice Strong is so scurrilous you have to laugh. He fucked up? Well, we all fucked up, didn't we eh?
There is a leaked draft of the Rio+20 outcome floating around on the web (a horrible copy at Scribd is the ony one with a decent link: The Future We Want, June 2 draft - you have to get the .pdf downloaded somehow and then use the (priceless) Adobe 'Find' feature to look for 'Canada' - quite a bit of jiggery-pokery and reading, but Canada's objectives become clearer with the exercise - scumdog shit heads! (Oops, sorry, getting 'negative' again.)
Here, try making sense of this gobbledegook:
Next paragraph is on 'Sustainable tourism', go figgure.In the January draft there is this:
126. We support the eventual phase out of market distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies that impede the transition to sustainable development, including those on fossil fuels, agriculture and fisheries, with safeguards to protect vulnerable groups.
In the leaked draft it seems to have become:
Energy 6. We [recognize / stress - New Zealand; Russian Federation delete / call for –EU; Russian Federation delete] [the need – EU delete; New Zealand retain] [for -New Zealand] [to consider, as appropriate, - Switzerland, New Zealand, EU delete; Canada, Russian Federation retain] [reforms –New Zealand / measures - Russian Federation] that [would – Switzerland, New Zealand] lead[s – Switzerland, New Zealand] to the rationalisation and phasing out over the medium term of environmentally or economically harmful [fossil fuel –US] [energy - New Zealand, Australia, Russian Federation] subsidies[, including [energy subsidies such as for - New Zealand, Australia delete] [inefficient - Australia] fossil fuels [subsidies - New Zealand, Australia], that inhibit sustainable development, - US, Russian Federation delete] [taking fully into account the specific conditions and different levels of development of individual countries, and – Switzerland, New Zealand delete] in a manner that [takes into account specific conditions, - Switzerland, New Zealand] protects the poor and eases the transition for the affected vulnerable communities. [G77 delete entire paragraph; Norway retain]
Canada's Reality Check: (k-k-k-Canada!)
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) is on the budget block which adds a certain poignancy to their: Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada (with a link there to download the report).
Tbe NRTEE Vice-Chair, Robert Slater (also an Adjunct Professor in Environmental Policy at Carleton University), and President and CEO, David McLaughlin, are ex-Deputy Ministers & ex- Assistant Deputy Ministers in various ex-Governments &etc. - on a political career path by the looks of it.
I have not read every line of this report, so if you want to dismiss what I have to say on that basis then please, fill yer boots!
The more I look at their first graph ... (keeping in mind that the first graph is about all most people - among the very few who take an interest at all - will look at in a 180 page report)
... so I played around with it a bit - added red targets (from numbers in the report itself), added 2010 emissions and 1011-12 estimates from Environment Canada: Canada’s Emissions Levels from 2008 to 2012 (from May 2011 but still ...) and the impression is quite different.
The original is incomplete and subtly misleading: at first glance the big round black spots with numbers look like targets, but they are perfectly upon the blue line so they can't be (?); the 'Turning the Corner' text makes it seem as if ... a corner has been turned (?) which it certainly has not; an arrow buried in the last target as if it could be hit.
What truely mystifies me is why, when they have already been shown the door, the authors and their masters still seem to be pandering to the Conservative playbook: that there is some remote possibility that the thing can be turned around in this way; that 2020 is a reasonable place to start ... and so on. It could have been a perfect opportunity to stand up - I guess there are other appointments coming down the trough for them.
The table of numbers I used is at the right.
It is also disheartening to see them waving the economic growth banner so unself-consciously: "... struggled to find the right formula that reduces GHG emissions within their jurisdiction while maintaining - indeed advancing - economic growth." Do they not see by now that continued growth on a finite planet is dooming every civilization on it? Most unsettling is their caveat, "Similarly it is important to note what the report is not ..." (though they don't quite say); and the absence in Kent's instructions of any reason for pursuing reductions in GHG emissions in the first place.
How one evaluates a policy, without making the least reference to the ultimate objective of that policy, or the possibility that the policy will achieve the objective, is something I simply do not understand.
Even a footnote on the 607Mt 2020 target saying, "This ambition, if fairly extended globally, is NOT sufficient to provide a reasonable probabilility of keeping average global temperature rise to 2°C, would have been ... kind. (Not that temperature is the only effect either - acid oceans, loss of species & relationships, poverty, wealth ... all of it; '2°C' is just quick to say.)
Instead their bottom line is polite, bureaucratic, milquetoast blancmange: "We recommend that advances in future Canadian climate policy meet three tests: they should be collaborative, coherent, and considered. We call it 3C." (Do they mean 3°C then? Is that it?)
But 'test' - there's that word again.
Steve Gardiner's global test is a much better one: A "... global test for social and political institutions and theories: if either does not respect the claim that failure to address a serious global threat is a criticism of it, and a potentially fatal one, then it is inadequate and must be rejected. [A perfect Moral Storm p 217-18] The sentence carries no fewer than three footnotes - might be worth looking up and reading for yourself.
The report uses the phrase "a hard reality' only once, but it is enough to remind me of Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men shouting, "The truth?! You can't HANDLE the truth!"
This Reality Check is ... not. In the case of the specific institution responsible for the report there has indeed been a recent rejection; I think it was made on other grounds, but from what I can see NRTEE fails the test described by Gardiner as well.
What to do? (speaking as an oyster y'unnerstan' ...)
There don't seem to be many adults left in the room. The fail-safe trump is played at any hint of judgement or 'negativity' - Pollyanna-ism, the ideology of positive thinking, no distinctions made, no humanity understood (no compassion), no prisoners taken. Too many who can't spell (and don't care), and can't read (and don't notice).
There could be such a thing as Leonard Cohen's "mighty judgement coming," no doubt; but there is also finding your child in a puddle with mud running into her diaper and helping her get sorted onto very slightly higher ground. (Still musing on The Fairy Tale.)
Still an' all it's mostly shades of The Emperor's New Clothes around here. I have no idea what to do gentle reader. "Keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew," is about the best of it.
Like my colleague at Swedish Meatballs Confidential I find that a little T&A helps, palliative porn placebo. For medicinal purposes only though, eh?
"... and the only sound that’s left, after the ambulances go ..."
1. Not sure if this maybe isn't a clue (?) coming on the heels of witnessing an annual miracle the Guardian presents me with Brazil's blueprint for reforestation.
(I had to doctor the map a bit: Icaraí & Queimados didn't show up properly at that scale, and they had to be there.)
Something less than a 'blueprint' in fact ... the nut seems to be that the Instituto Terra de Preservação Ambiental (iTPA) "é uma organização privada, sem fins lucrativos" / is a private non-profit organization. Not government (though they apparently take some money from it), not the UN; ~200,000 acres so far (and not a eucalyptus plantation either). Also a story about a very specific father & son, Calico & Maurício Ruiz. So not a blueprint, no, not a recipe.
Miguel Pereira? Never heard of it, but ... yup: there it is on Wikipedia; at their own website (click the 'História' tab); on Google Maps.
This landscape is familiar. I know these places. Oh sure, the Guardian may just be trying to help save face for Rio+20 - but yeah, 90% of Brasilians (despite being 50%+ illiterate) are well-informed and care about the environment (somewhere in the old blog I think I clipped a Jornal do Brasil headline on the subject (if Google were any good at searching I could find it in a snap).
And more recently, fossicking about in this cumbersome Internet book around the Código Florestal, here ... Vila do Pesqueiro, Ilha de Marajó, just across the river from Belém (that only took 15 minutes to find), somewhere appeared a good map (another half-hour) yeah, there it is from the University of Texas International Map of the World 1:1,000,000, with a clickable index and all - SA 22 Para ... and I think sometimes, "Just grab the last of the cash and go there."
Not gonna happen though. Stumped by having read Handful of Dust at too early an age, or having taken it up so securely into the back cupboards, or something ...
"Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
2. Who are these people? Really?!
For quite some time it's been authors, a veritable constellation of them: Simon Critchley, Andrew Weaver, Peter Sale, Steve Gardiner, Peter Victor, Tim Jackson (Chimamanda Adichie, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Arundhati Roy) ... and before that: Thomas Pynchon, Northrop Frye, Charles Taylor (Hannah Arendt) ... I read (and re-read) their books, try to see what they look like, hear what they sound like ... but often (too often, and this is uncomfortable to say) I wonder ... (Bob Dylan too I guess)
There seems to be a clue in Ole Pedersen's review of A Perfect Moral Storm, near the end; he says:
Elsewhere, Richard Posner alerts us to the argument that lawyers are often guilty of ‘lawyers’ hubris’, thinking that lawyers are somehow better placed at making important decisions and balance competing values (Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy 2003). There is a similar line of thought in Gardiner’s argument (albeit in the form of political philosophers’ hubris) that an enterprise of clarificatory political and moral philosophy will be particularly advantageous.This is not exactly what I wonder about - but it is sorta getting there ... Two years after Northrop Frye's Helen dies in 1984, he marries another (this is not being critical, this is wonderment), and not so long before he dies himself in 1991. He's not the only one - I knew another United Church minister who did about the same - maybe it is no more than a small current in that particular cultural zone.
That is not what I meant at all. ... I picked up something of what Pederson is referring to in Gardiner's book - a certain exclusivity, speaking to those who know the language and accept certain of its structures implicitly in a certain mode (thus making certain questions ridiculous, un-askable).
Seems to be getting into Parzival territory. (?)
3. Tensegrity almost languishes ... but not quite:
It was a struggle to get more struts made but they are finally arrived (made by a lad whose birth I remember). In the meantime the elastics have deteriorated to the point that some of the models are falling apart ('falling' is not quite the correct term in this case :-). And in the meantime the energy has ... dissipated, lost inertia, embers.
I wish I knew for certain ... If rubber bands ever lasted any longer? (But memory is suspect.) If something has changed in the latex formulation? If it is the tobacco smoke? (But I always smoked. Is there something new in the cigarettes?) Is it a leak of some kind from the refrigerator? Did a previous tenant leave a strong alpha/gamma emitter hidden somewhere? What?
I know that getting AutoCad and learning to use it will be an order of magnitude more distracting, but the stainless steel laser-cutting machine needs such drawings; and anyway, calculating the metrics needs a computer model. All there is here is Paint:
Love knot negentropy - endorphins leaping up the waterfall on shiny springs. Maybe something will change with the solstice.
4. Riding the streetcar:
On the 506 over to the UofT bookstore to pick up A Perfect Moral Storm, a long ride, a sunny day; humming Caetano's Terra inside somewhere and thinking of writing one of those 'tiny texts', along the lines of David Gaffney's flash-fiction, micro-fiction - one hundred and fifty words or less; an ultra-short essay (maybe 200 words on one side of one piece of 8½" x 11" paper):
'Is it possible to have a sexual relationship with a planet?'
Listening to two middle-aged asian women in front of me gabble away ... until I begin to think I am understanding something of the story they are telling (just from the inflections).
The driver is not using his (more-or-less friendly) bell - he is on the big horn, again and again. A skinny old man is intermittently talking out loud - baseball stats from some past in which the number 62 recurrs; no one hears and no one takes the seat beside him; but when he gets off the driver says, "Take care."
5. ¡Ya basta! Neanderthals in Northern Spain (Cro-Magnon antecedents y'unnerstan'), Basque country ~40,000 years ago.
The pigment is blown somehow (the scientists surmise) - done with the mouth then, and breath, pneuma, spiritus.
You got the diamonds, from the mine.
Well that's all right, it'll buy some time.
[Ah, there is balance in the universe and it ends as it began. No way get to generic Google.com anymore (it was possible until June 15). So if you are in Canada (according to your IP address) you now see exactly what Google wants Canadians to see. Sorta something the way things work in ... China.]