The Grumpy Old Man

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Climate Change Conferences, the Kyoto Protocol and Others
Note:this grump was originally published in August 2015, but was updated in November 2018 and again in December 2018

Are politicians more interested in attending conferences than in actually doing something constructive?

Gordon Bennett these politicians don't half take the biscuit, particularly on climate change. They seem to love holding meetings, conventions, conferences and all sorts of other talking shops making encouraging noises about how to tackle global warming and put right the damage done by Man to the environment. If you'll excuse the pun, all they produce seems to be a load of hot air and little else.

It is pertinent to note that countries represented at these bun fights invariably send large delegations. Grumpy finds it ironic that here they are talking about limiting climate change and yet by the very fact that huge delegations attend these meetings they can only be contributing adversely to the topic in hand. Let's face it, they have all travelled there either by car, rail or by air, which dumps pollutants directly into the stratosphere or more leisurely by sea (enjoying a cruise holiday) not taking into account that the average oceangoing ship is quite a polluter. The diesel engines powering the majority of ships is fuelled by the cheapest and filthiest diesel oil available. This is probably because sometimes they are only able to refuel in some out of the way tinpot little port that only carries fuel that can be labelled little more than mukkite. This filthy stuff as it is burnt by the engine generates not only greenhouse gases but large quantities of carcinogens.)

The Kyoto protocol which called for producers of greenhouse gases to commit to a programme designed specifically to reduce these emissions requiring ratification by the governments of all countries involved. At this juncture it is pertinent to recognise that the United States and China are the major contributors to these gases in the environment. However Grumpy believes that the situation is so critical that all countries have their part (no matter how small) to play in reducing the production of these gases and therefore contributing to saving the environment of the planet.

The protocol has so far been, as far as Grumpy can see, an abysmal failure as the main contributors refused to "sign up" or to even recognise that the global problem of climate change actually exists. The United States, under President George W Bush refused to sign the protocol into American law as he believed that it would impinge adversely on the American employment market i.e. it would cost American jobs. Grumpy believes this sort of attitude is prevalent among world leaders and politicians who are only interested in short term "self gain". They do not have the interest or capacity to grasp the nettle of this most severe problem that threatens all life on planet Earth. If nothing is done to combat this seemingly inexorable problem that threatens all life on earth, then there will be much more to worry about than a job market. Whatever happens, current jobs will certainly go but the skill is in utilising the resultant staff availability to effectively tackle the roots of climate change. One has to start somewhere and the sooner we start the lesser will be the incremental effect on employment. One could almost liken this effect on employment as a wedge. If one delays the start of the wedge then the slope will be much steeper and more difficult to manage. Grumpy is sure that in this sort of situation the problem will be further exacerbated by the fact that the overall change required (area of the wedge) will increase as the start of action keeps being put off.

Even smaller countries such as Ireland have their part to play in the efforts to reduce these gases. At a recent climate change summit in New York, Enda Kenny (the Irish Prime Minister) was quoted as saying "global warming is a stark reality that can only be dealt with by a collective global response. We are all interdependent, we share a common humanity, and each of us must play our part". Grumpy believes these are sound, wise words and we would all do well to heed them. Having said that, as Irish Prime Minister he should put his money where his mouth is and not indulge in double speak according to his audience. At a different meeting covering the steps different countries are taking in their efforts to reduce their production of greenhouse gases, he stated that nothing was going to be done to reduce the Irish cattle herd as to do so would impinge on Irish employment and exports. Here we see him taking the American stance of blinkered vision and not taking into account the high levels of cattle flatulence (a well known aromatic greenhouse gas!) that comes with a large beef and dairy industry.

The human race seems hellbent on rushing down the road of self-destruction, yet at least two Scandinavian countries (Sweden and Denmark) have bitten the bullet and embraced the concept of a low carbon economy (i.e. low carbon or greenhouse gas emissions) and far from costing jobs, the reality has been that they are now at the forefront of this new technology and it has had an overall positive effect on the employment markets in these countries. People may be doing different jobs, but they are in work and are making a positive contribution to the national economy and the world environment.

What Grumpy finds galling is that national leaders pay lip service to this global problem. The United States President admits that 'alarm bells keep ringing and citizens keep marching and it is now time for the world to answer the call'. Gordon Bennett, the bloke needs to stop talking and start acting. His country is one of the major producers of greenhouse gases, therefore whatever action his country takes can only have a large effect on the overall problem. He needs to lead by example and so do other countries in the Western world. After all, the smaller undeveloped countries can quite rightly say "why in the world should we do anything when the biggest perpetrator of the problem does nothing". If the Western world continues to sit on their hands and do bugger all, then we have a real problem. The Irish Prime Minister warns that the clock is ticking to save humanity. Once again he appears to be taking on board the problem but is totally unwilling to grasp the nettle. He could show real leadership qualities, casting other more recalcitrant leaders in shadow, by addressing the climate change that ultimately will affect all life on planet earth.

It seems to Grumpy that there are many things going on here. One of the fundamental problems is that the solution to climate change is very long term and it will take men of huge courage to initiate any action. It seems to Grumpy that we have yet another example of modern democracy working against the overall (long-term) needs of mankind. The decisions that must be taken are, if you will again excuse the pun, earth shattering and extremely far reaching. So much so that the results of the necessary decisions taken are unlikely to be seen for a large number of years, certainly far in excess of current legislatures periods of office. The downside being that there will be short-term pain that will be felt immediately. One must therefore ask if these world leaders are more interested in getting themselves re-elected or in doing their part in saving the planet.

But Grumpy would like to make further wry comment, and he bases this on his own work experience. These endless talking shops can be almost addictive to the attendees. Endless days in the office can be boring almost to the point of soul destroying. To attend a meeting of any sort that is being held offsite has always been known most appropriately as a "jolly". This description was used wherever one visited. Even when one's normal place of employment was deep in the clean aired rural countryside and the visit was to a filthy squalid industrial estate or polluted central London, it was still called a "jolly". Perhaps attendees at these climate change conferences get the same relief or enjoyment from attending them. They certainly seem to produce very little in the way of positive action.

I am pleased to see that, as I write, the President of the USA has at last tabled a document outlining a USA policy that could be the start of a way forwards. There will be many fences to jump and hoops to negotiate, particularly as the USA sometimes seems to be governed by narrow minded pressure groups of businesses with vested interests (such as the gun lobby). At least he is trying to initiate something in the last years of his administration. I wish him well, he will certainly need it. The thing with these large Problems is that the longer you leave them before you address them, the greater they become. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, I hope that he has not left it too late. Perhaps we can now get the Chinese on board, then we may stand a chance. However, I do accept that one needs to start somewhere, this, is perhaps just such a start. It is, after all, far better than sitting on one's hands.

United States of America, welcome to the club of nations who are at least trying to do something constructive. Lets hope that the upcoming Paris Climate change summit in December this year will now be even more effective than previous ones.

Note:this grump was originally published in August 2015, and updated in November 2018

I have for some time suspected abuse of privelidge in this matter, but have only recently seen specific evidence giving an example of just how rife this abuse is. A recent Daily Telegraph article shows it to be prevalent at all levels of the environmental lobby right to the top. It seems the head of the United Nations Environmental Agency (Erik Solheim) has been globetrotting, by air, at the expense of the Environmental Agency. The news report stated that this diplomat was travelling, by air for 80% of his days in his first year in office. The audit unearthing this profligate activity clearly questions whether some of the journeys were even made on "business" activities as they took place at weekends or during the Christmas holidays, choosing to fly with more expensive airlines than necessary.

The long-term resolution of global warming can only be resolved by international worldwide action. The United Nations seems to be an ideal root from which to start this movement. But what chances are there of the success of any effort made when the head of an organisation ostensibly established to combat global warming effectively waves two fingers to the philosophy that must be adopted by each and every one of us. That philosophy is to travel, in this case by air as little as possible. This is because it is known that air travel not only deposits carbon dioxide in the worst possible place (the upper atmosphere) but it also generates vast quantities of ice crystals in the same atmospheric area. It is known that these ice crystals also severely exacerbate global warming.

In short, what sort of an example is this idiot giving to the rest of the world. He should be fired immediately.

Note:this grump was originally published in August 2015, and here is a further update in December 2018

What hypocrisy to see the celebrations at the recent climate change conference held in Katowice in Poland, as Poland is such a huge exporter of coal, which is well known to be one of the major polluters of the developed world.

Typical of short sorted humans, the coalminers saw little reason to reduce their output of coal as they queried what would happen to their industry if they did so. Again nobody pointed out that if they carried on producing coal, and ergo the pollution that it caused, nobody would have any industry at all when the whole ecosystem of the planet collapses say that.

The conference was labelled "Cop 24", presumably the 24 meaning the 24th meeting of these Worthies. Yet after 23 meetings, little seems to has been achieved as the level of CO2 being released into the atmosphere (as just one example) has yet again increased on a year-on-year basis.

What I found absolutely astounding, and this information is very easy to find on Google, is that there were 22,771 participants in the conference with some countries sending over two, three, four hundred delegates. Sending such numbers left me absolutely speechless I cannot see that more than one percent of that number of people could have anything to contribute. Granted, perhaps another five percent would benefit from attending the conference and could pass on the information to non-attendees back home. But to have nearly 23,000 attending a single conference, to me is gob smackingly out of this world.

These people are supposed to be encouraging the rest of the world to sort the ecosystem out not in flying around the planet generating a high-altitude pollution which is making the problem even worse.

What is even more galling is that one hears very little about anything being done to sort the problem out. Some developed countries are still producing more greenhouse gas than they were in previous years. What effect are these people having on national governments? In the words of Dylan Thomas (and I make no apologies for quoting him again) llareggub! It is high time these people stopped jetting around the world at other peoples expense and concentrated on persuading idiots like Donald Trump that climate change is happening, here and now. If he doesn't get his **** in gear then, to put it mildly, he will most certainly be bitten in the goolies.

With this sort of thing going on I despair because it is clear that mankind is not interested one iota in sorting out climate change until it affects him personally, privately and the way he's going, irrevocably.

As many of you know Grumpy is an ardent Brexiteer and that problem seems to be insoluble the way the nation want it, but the problems associated with Brexit pall into insignificance if something is not done to halt the inexorable increase in global temperatures.

I ask again what sort of planet are way leaving our children? Note I say "children" and not "grandchildren" because the problem really is that urgent. I would draw your attention to a much more simple problem that was resolved by concerted international effort and that was the effect CFCs were having on the ozone layer. It is now 30 to 40 years after that problem was identified and international effort put into eradicating the problem. It is only now that the effects of international effort all those years ago can be detected in the closing of the holes in the ozone layer.

The longer the problem is left, the more difficult it becomes to resolve, provided the time has not passed beyond which it cannot be resolved

This note really is a press stopper. I have just listened to a 16 year old schoolgirl giving an address in Stockholm. It moved me almost to tears, so much so that I really believe that you must click on this link TEDx Talk and listen to it. Yes it takes just over ten minutes, but every word counts, listen to it and what is perhaps more important send it on to all our friends, colleagues and aquantances.

Her final comments summed up the whole situation when she said " I don't want your applause, I want your action " . To me that summed up the whole situation in less than 12 words.

I have already already been asked by people who have listened to this address " what can I do? " . How interesting, particularly as the question means something completely different if the emphasis is on the " I " or if it is on the " do ". If you want some suggestions, as I believe doing nothing is not an option, I would be delighted to pass a few on to you, just ask.