It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Simultaneous Defection from Civilization and Abdication of Power

I asked the following question on Twitter:

"Do you think a stabilized climate is possible without a globally binding emissions treaty? How?"

I specifically directed the question to @drvox (David Roberts, formerly @drgrist) as well as to @Tokyo_Tom (about the most cogent self-described libertarian I have encountered on the net) and was gratified to kick off some conversation. What I am discovering is a widespread tendency among some to treat the UNFCCC process as laughable and beside the point, and a widespread tendency among others to treat it as the whole ball of wax.

I am in the latter category.

I asked the question to investigate my suspicion: that the dismissal of the UN process is common across the political spectrum in the US, while relatively rare elsewhere.

I am interested in more data points. I would like to know if this point of view actually dominates among left, right, and center in America.

It would seems to me especially ironic if it turns out that the Americans have a rare social consensus in actively torpedoing the process. At present the US as a sovereign entity in the negotiations happens to have an extremely powerful negotiating position, one which will gradually slip away.

For those interested in projecting US power, this stubborn failure to even contemplate closing a deal seems like an amazing abdication of an opportunity.

For those interested in living in peace with the world, America's failing to engage in the formalities of a carbon treaty, which have been set up with great cost and difficulty, just seems uncivilized.


Tom said...


Dan said...

Just for comparison to what America will be bringing to the negotiations, this is an excellent piece on India's complex energy and growth issues - and how it directly impacts their approach to climate talks.

Also: to the extent that views of UN climate negotiations map to people's view of the UN generally, this is an interesting survey. I was surprised to see some country's right-wingers tend to have a more positive view of the UN (America definitely not being one of them!)