Views of Doha

The 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the UN’s Framework Convention on climate Change (UNFCCC), ended in Doha (Qatar) last weekend. Sadly, this event was not considered newsworthy in the mainstream media in the UK. Irrespective of the outcome of COP18, the X Factor and the tragic death of a nurse following a hoax phone call were considered far more important than the diminishing prospects for international cooperation to avert a climate catastrophe. Back in the real world – as opposed to the sweet-smelling rose garden of our celebrity-obsessed media – the consequences of the UNFCCC’s failure to prevent continual growth in carbon dioxide emissions over the last 20 years have been reported by a wide range of bodies. The news is not good. Even before COP18 had ended, Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo, was on record as having told the AFP news agency:

If we make a judgment based on what we’ve seen in these negotiations so far, there is no reason to be optimistic. – Fractious Doha talks bode ill for 2020 deal, observers say

Writing for the website of the Global Travel Industry News website – let’s not talk about its carbon footprint for now – Wolfgang H. Thome (a PhD from Uganda) reported the outcome of COP18 as follows:

In spite of the writing now being clearly on the wall, and climate change projections suggesting an average rise of temperatures by 2 degrees C 40 years from now, and up to 5+ degrees C by the end of the century, the main polluters have once again succeeded to push tough decisions into the future. – Doha’s failure spells doom for Africa

A team of observers from the Center for American Progress website, introduced their summary of events as follows:

The end of this year’s UN climate summit last weekend in Doha, Qatar, marked a period of transition… to… a three-year process to create a new comprehensive climate treaty, which will be applicable to all countries and cover 100 percent of global emissions. – See here for the full briefing on the outcome.

———– There is just one problem with the glacial speed of the UNFCCC’s progress towards a Treaty to replace the failed Kyoto Protocol – unlike glacier melting in the real world – it is not accelerating in response to the increasingly obvious warming of the planet. With my thanks to fellow-blogger Paul Handover for alerting me to it – via his most recent post – the Yale Forum on Climate Change and The Media has reported that the renowned British climate scientist – and prominent critique of UK government policy – Professor Robert Watson, recently told a California audience that:

Fundamentally, we are not on a path toward a 2 degree world… Average global temperatures could rise 2 to 7 degrees C by the end of the century, driving a litany of environmental change… Therefore, we must adapt… – Forget About That 2-Degree Future

What scares me about this is that, as Clive Hamilton suggested (in Requiem for a Species), believing that we can adapt to the accelerating change that our leaders are ignoring is very probably a fanciful delusion in itself. – We have failed to heed the warning signs and therefore, just as William Ophuls predicted (in Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity), we are currently in the process of reducing the Earth’s long-term ecological carrying capacity. Furthermore, the longer our political “leaders” take to acknowledge – and respond to – this fact, the greater the collateral damage is going to be. –,ecological_scarcity.html In the long run, unmitigated climate change is almost certainly going to cause genocide on an unprecedented scale – at least 100 times greater than the extermination of 6 million Jews by the Nazis 70 years ago. As was the case back then, an awful lot of people seem to be just standing around allowing it to happen.


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Climate Science, Cognitive Dissonance, Economics, Environment, Fossil Fuels, Greenpeace, Intergenerational Injustice, Mass Extinctions, Politics, UNFCCC and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Views of Doha

  1. Thanks Rick for the LfD mention and link.


  2. Are we expecting too much from our leaders and ourselves? I ask it because human history has few examples of where the generation of the present changed their lives for the generations of the future. Unfortunately the complex nature of AGW has meant that superficially the speed of change is not apparent or particularly clear. We don’t really know what is going on in the oceans, we know there is heat build up, we know more energy in the system will drive the weather to extremes but at the moment the future is rather opaque. Are we as a species actually capable of making long term decisions based on an uncertain future? I smoke, I know its harmful and sound predictions determine it will likely kill me- but [and this despite my fathers death from smoking- at 82!] it seems to have little effect on my determination now. I still have a future and I can make amends then. The problem is that humans- myself even- are optimistic, we live now; we can’t even think our way through a local human crisis like Syria and make a sound decision. What ever we do will cock things up and without two or realities we never know if the decision we made is the right one. The decision we have collectively made is to get rich because it appears to be the best survival strategy. Lots of stuff = a long and happy life. And the sad truth is that the West- us- who have pursued this will have better chance of survival in coming decades than countries that have not been able. If we are to collectively change minds then the approach may have to be the same as the smoker- we need reasons now- not for one in 20-30-80 years time. I marvelled at the Medieval cathedral builders who dedicated not only their own careers but their children’s in a 40 year building project, in comparison the Great Pyramid seems more like an olympic project lasting only 20 years. Maybe we are not evolved enough and it is just the evolutionary end of the road.


    • Rick Altman says:

      Thanks Jules. All of what you say reminds me of the importance of the fallacy at the heart of The Age of Enlightenment: Humans now think themselves separate from – and superior to – Nature; and therefore delude themselves they can dominate and control it. Hence the reality that climate change is “the greatest market failure in history” (Stern) and “a failure of modern politics” (Hamilton). My Mum was born in 1928 and, having decided to stop smoking 25 years ago when she got fed up of coughing, she has COPD but is still alive. My Dad was born in 1926 and, having decided to stop smoking 30 years ago when he got a bad case of pneumonia, he started again some years later. He died 3 years ago. Anyone can stop smoking if they really want to; however some people just enjoy it too much. Today, most humans enjoy burning fossil fuels too much. Therefore, without doubt, there will be unpleasant consequences.


  3. Christine says:

    Good analogies, Rick & Jules. With both my husband and I having healthcare backgrounds, it’s one that rings very true – very few of my husband’s patients quit smoking because they are told that it’s bad for them (although more of the women – but not all – quit when they are pregnant, for the sake of their unborn child’s health). I agree that we haven’t evolved to consider the long term consequences of our actions; the current moment is, I think we can all agree, an excellent opportunity to evolve as a species or die. The outcome remains uncertain.


  4. Christine says:

    You might appreciate this quote I just came across “We must postpone our pessimism for better times” – Eduardo Galeano.


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