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Tempered Emergency: The Climate Change Summit in New York

It had a good deal of desperate scolding. Sweden’s Greta Thunberg assumed the role of punishing advocate, a Joan of Arc of fury. The main culprit in her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit was the hideous, super ego, the big bad “You”, ever condescending, ever indifferent, the “You” of adulthood that had trashed the environment and left a gigantic mess to clean up. She lamented how she should be in school on the other side of the ocean. “How dare you”, these adults who had “come to us young people for hope.”

Prior to speaking at the UN, she gave a warning of what would come. “This is such a crucial day, world leaders are gathering at the UN in New York to decide our future. The eyes of the world will be upon them.” Then came the rage and the tears. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” There was suffering, people perishing, ecosystems collapsing. “You say you hear us, and that you understand the urgency… I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation, and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”

There was a nagging feeling that Thunberg was performing a role, to be cheered, clapped and celebrated even as she mocked those she was in the company of. Indeed, how dare they? They, with the “empty words”; they, without the will to marshal the global mobilisation against the existential threat of climate change. This is the anti-slavery advocate who preaches at a slave convention and rebukes them only to receive praise; the organic foodie who rages against genetically modified crops at a Monsanto-sponsored conference. It is a show, necessary pageantry. She means well. Listen to her. Celebrate her. Then, quietly forget it. We accept the principle, but some are more equal, and pressing, than others.

The point of forgetting, if not ignoring all the fuss, was made by US President Donald Trump. He believes in the “fairy tale”, as Thunberg calls it, of “eternal economic growth.” The image of the sixteen-year-old, staring with hot sore eyes at the commander-in-chief of the United States as he walked by her, seemingly oblivious to her presence, will stand the test of time. He had better things to do, with his administration having vowed to pull out of the Paris Agreement. During his time in office, approximately 80 environmental rules and regulations have been removed or are in the process of being removed. Fossil fuels are big; the environment, small.

For all that, the president finds avoiding spectacles difficult, and dropped in with Vice President Mike Pence in the later morning. Former New York mayor and current UN special envoy for climate Michael R. Bloomberg, was rueful in greeting him. “Hopefully our discussions here will be useful for you when you formulate climate policy.” Cue the laughter and chuckling.

There were a few overtures made, a set of loosely pencilled promises, but nothing too shattering.  China’s special representative Wang Yi simply reiterated that, “China will faithfully fulfil its obligations.” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was vague about increasing his country’s use of renewable energy by 2022. French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that future trade negotiations be linked to commitments on reducing emissions. To pursue trading arrangements with states not complying with the Paris climate agreement would be “deeply hypocritical.” (Hypocrisy in foreign relations is no deterrence). Some 60 countries pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050; various business representatives promised to stick to the Paris Agreement targets and even a clutch of asset fund managers proclaimed they would seek net-zero portfolio investments within three decades.

Others have been harsher, albeit cloaking criticism of Thunberg with false sympathy. It surely could not have been healthy, suggests Tiana Lowe of The Washington Examiner, “to place a child with this many mental illnesses under the spotlight of public scrutiny.” British screen writer and editor of the Free Market Conservatives Tim Dawson took Thunberg’s message of being at school quite literally. “She is a completely inappropriate figure to spearhead any kind of public campaign and adults exploiting her should be ashamed.” (Since when was there an “appropriate” revolutionary activist?)

Where such acid cynicism has some merit is the way Thunberg the global brand is being manipulated by jaded elders who see dollar signs and prospects in a dangerous world. The tipping point for Thunberg is that she is being celebrated as an ecological warrior who has done more to bring attention to the dangers of climate change than any single politician. She has brought her generation from the future, as it were, to battle the current struggle. But this exercise risks going the way of all flesh. Those holding the strings, making the decisions about starting the next coal mine, or the opening of the next coal powered station, can either ignore her or manage her message: Rest assured, Greta, we are not stealing any future, merely managing a “transition”.

This climate summit was billed as urgent, and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres was keen to only invite those who had ideas addressing that urgency. “Nature is angry,” he warned in his summit address. “And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. Because nature always strikes back.”

What we got, instead, were more words, meek undertakings, assurances. There was talk of drawing lines in the sand. For Thunberg, “Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.” For Guterres, the gathering was “not a climate talk summit” but a “climate action summit.  From the beginning, I said the ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech, but concrete action.” Unfortunately for him, this summit will be added to other emergency meetings where outrage finds a higher register than tangible action.

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22 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    Treat activists with disdain at your peril, the same YOU that Greta talked about. And how DARE Tina Dawson use mental illness as a reason to dismiss her. Using that gauge, we must surely have Trump committed for life.
    I am reminded of the Noah’s Ark fairy story where the unicorns ignore the rain until the boat is closed and leaving, so they perish.
    Except right now there is no boat to get on to save us from our own rapacious greed and destruction. And we will surely perish.

  2. RomeoCharlie29

    Mock, or dismiss Greta Thunburg with faint praise if you must, but i found her speech profoundly moving and uncompromisingly powerful. I don’t expect that Trump or Morrison could or will watch it, but they should. As for Alan Jones , as a male of a very similar demographic, I wonder what makes him so insecure in the face of Greta Thunburg’s sincerity that he has to belittle her so badly? His tirade, as replayed on Media Watch, had me wondering about his sanity. Again.

  3. Phil Pryor

    Murdering, thieving, usurping, terrorist activists brought down the ancestral governments of all the five veto powers in the UNO Council, the ultimate symbol of law in this world to many. The absolute monarchs, kaiser, tsars and imperious rulers are long gone, thankfully. Eliminating entrenched evil is good, so may the useless, thieving executive murdering, plundering, polluting anuses in governments everywhere learn something from a small girl who speaks more sense and decency than those quoted here in doubt or opposition. Career politicians are a pox and plague, media commentators worse, and those who do little to serve sbould be eliminated quickly by any means, with Charles I, Wilhelm II, Nicholas II, The British imperialists, the Chinese despots as good examples.

  4. Brad Black

    What makes world ‘leaders’ uncomfortable about Greta Thunberg is her powerful message and her persuasive delivery of the message. When head kickers in the media are called in for assistance, you know they’re worried.
    Hopefully, Greta can rise above the filth and their rabid tactics.

  5. Padty

    Greta will be tolerated by the UN, media, govts and business, unless the CC movement derail the UN Agenda 2030 timetable.
    The UN want us living in ‘Smart cities’, paying green taxes & taking involuntary doses of WiFi radiation from the 5G grid.

    You think getting irradiated for no good reason makes no sense? It makes a lot of sense to Big Pharma.
    Who do you think is going to fix up a mysteriously sick population a decade or three in the future?

    Divide & Conquer 101, with media using young Greta (or whoever they choose on the day) to fracture social relations between generations, even though more than 90% of adults also want a safer and cleaner environment. The UN is a form of fake news.

  6. David Bruce

    The Conversation is banning climate change conversation. It’s a standard tactic of the left. If you can’t win an argument with reasoning, shut the argument down.

    Another tactic is the use of kids and actors to promote an agenda. Greta Thunberg is the poster child of the climate movement. Kids are innocent. Kids are believable. Those trying to push their climate change agenda are shamelessly using her.

    You simply don’t get as much airtime as she does without a powerful someone making it happen.

    Hollywood is in on the ruse too. Actors — who make their living from being someone else — are all singing from the same song sheet. But they’re all phonies. They’re the biggest emitters of all. And they are owned. Their ongoing success depends on them towing the Hollywood line.

    So whenever there is a coordinated global action to make us believe something, I question it. It just smells fishy to me. And we should absolutely question the climate narrative.

    You may be familiar with ‘the big lie’. It’s a propaganda technique made famous by the Nazi’s, and Joseph Goebbels quote in particular:

    ‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.’
    The rest of that quote is even more important:

    ‘The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.’

    Goebbels, in turn, was inspired by Hitler’s despicable mind. From Mein Kampf:

    ‘All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

    ‘It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes.’

    The point to note is this:

    Just because you would never make up something so outrageous, doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t. There are dark forces that operate in this world. And they prey on your kindness and good nature.

    Don’t forget, a free society thrives when it questions everything. When dissent is shut down, you know you’re getting close to the truth.

    Now let’s ask: Why? Why would such a huge scare campaign exist? In short, fear is a great tool of control. And division. If people are divided and opposed, then no one notices their pockets being picked.

    The climate change movement represents a massive transfer of wealth via taxes and climate change ‘funds’. This opens up a huge opportunity for corrupt officials. First it was a coming “ice age”, then “global warming” and now “climate change”! Why?

    Call me cynical, but the bottom line is that the climate change movement is a huge money spinner for the 1%. We’re all being conned.

  7. Terence Mills

    The Conversation is periodically trolled with a flood of repetitive posts from the same people, in some cases the same people using several different pseudonyms but basically with a common purpose of drowning out discussion by swamping the site with provocative posts.

    I don’t agree with The Conversation in their ban on climate deniers ; as I pointed out to them it means the statements made in parliament by people like Craig Kelly will not see the the light of day and will not be subject to rigorous analysis and comment.

    There are other ways that they can moderate trolls and the AIMN seems to be able to handle the situation without an outright ban.

  8. The AIM Network

    Folks, we have added Greta Thunberg’s Climate Summit speech to the bottom of Dr Binoy’s post.

    Drop what you’re doing and watch it!

  9. Rossleigh

    David, I’m confused. You’re telling us that shutting down the debate on climate change and using kids and actors are standard tactics of the left, but then you follow up by telling us that it’s the 1% who are benefitting this whole climate change movement.

  10. David Bruce

    You think the 1% would get their hands dirty in this scheme? They use agents like Soros, maybe even ScuMo! Divide and rule?

    The events have been dramatized by various advocacy groups and political parties as proof that man-made global warming– emissions of CO2 from industry, coal plants, cars and the like– are the cause. We are being inundated with proposals for new taxes in the hundreds of billions of dollars in especially the European Union, taxes that we are told are needed to solve this problem. What if we are focused on the wrong cause-effect relationship?

    Recent research suggests that we have been too limited in our science and are ignoring what is likely orders of magnitude a greater influence in world weather and its shifts than any man-made emissions. What is relevant to this discussion is the fact that no linear climate model used by the UN IPCC or any of the hundreds of climate think tanks around the world are able to model what is by far the greatest single factor affecting our weather, the “moody” sun.

    What astrophysicists have documented is that our sun—by far the greatest factor for whether we experience heat or cold spells, El Nino Pacific events, or severe volcanic or earthquake activity as in the past months—that the sun undergoes a complex cyclical series of intense activity followed by declining activity, activity commonly known as sunspots or solar eruptions, huge electro-magnetic events. (Solar flares like the Carrington event).

    Typically the sun eruptions come in roughly 11 year cycles of peaks and lows. These cycles overlay longer cycles and relate to the highly complex motion of our solar system in the universe. Currently since 2018 we are experiencing a period of significant decline in solar activity, a solar minimum. The last such was during 2008-2009. There is convincing evidence that this minimum will be what is called a Grand Solar Minimum, far more than any in the recent decades. What are observable effects of such cyclical solar minimum periods?

    Cosmic Rays and Clouds

    According to astrophysicists, when the sun’s magnetic field weakens, the outward pressure of the solar wind decreases. This allows more cosmic rays to penetrate our planet’s atmosphere. In turn the cosmic rays hitting Earth’s atmosphere create aerosols which, in turn, seed clouds. According to Dr Roy Spencer, “Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming, or global cooling.” (We see the evidence of this in the Northern Lights and the Southern Aurora).

    The US Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says, “All weather on Earth, from the surface of the planet out into space, begins with the Sun. Space weather and terrestrial weather (the weather we feel at the surface) are influenced by the small changes the Sun undergoes during its solar cycle. The most important impact the Sun has on Earth is from the brightness or irradiance of the Sun itself.”

    What are the effects of a weaker solar activity, a more dormant cycle as we now experience of less solar energy or irradiance reaching Earth? In addition to increased cloud coverage globally, the vital jet streams weaken and volcanic activity increases, along with earth quakes, combined with erratic unpredictable weather. The Earth’s magnetosphere, which normally locks the Jet Stream in place, weakens, and that in turn causes the stable Jet Stream to shift South as it did in January 2019 in North America causing the record cold and snows across the USA Midwest. In some regions there will be significantly more drought while in others significant flooding with major effect on world food production possible. The weaker solar activity, known as Solar Minimum, also correlates with a global cooling trend. This has been documented going back centuries and longer.

    The current solar cycle, called by NASA the Number 24 Cycle, peaked in early 2014 before starting its measurable decline in annual sunspot activity. The minimum is predicted to take place in 2020. It could last for years. Some predict a new “mini Ice Age.”

    The subject is complex and vastly under-researched as we focus instead almost exclusively on man-made changes or possible changes to our weather with simplistic computer models. If the coming winter in the Northern Hemisphere is anything like the past one, it should prompt us to take this solar component of our climate seriously.

    By refusing to promote vigorous new research, we run a real risk in coming years of being unprepared for dramatic harvest failures globally at a time when most OECD governments have decided to eliminate emergency public grain reserves, and our food supply is organized on a “just-in-time” system. Science is not about “consensus,” but rather about discovering truth, however controversial.

  11. Matters Not

    Congratulations David Bruce! You are the unchallenged, undisputed, unappreciated, unacknowledged best Gish Galloper on this site.

    And for those not familiar with that particular, pejorative descriptor:

    The Gish Gallop is the fallacious debate tactic of drowning your opponent in a flood of individually-weak arguments in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument collection without great effort.

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

    No doubt – here, for comedic relief. But it does become rather tiresome.

  12. Keith

    Greta has had her commentary peer reviewed by climate scientists, she was found to be accurate in her commentary.
    The adults critical of Greta and other young activists ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    The denier movement has been very successful presenting their pseudo science. A result of the denier movement has enabled fossil fuel billionaires to continue to make their billions of dollars at the expense of the biosphere. In making huge profits they have been successful, at the same time they have been very successful in doing extreme damage to the environment aided by their political pawns … politicians.

  13. Zathras

    The denialist knives are well and truly out for the likes of Thunberg. From Alan Jones referring to all those striking students as “selfish, badly educated, virtue signalling little turds” to comparing Thunberg’s plaited hair to poster-girl members of the Hitler Youth the well-trodden notion of shooting the messenger and ignoring the message has never been more apparent.

    In response the hardened denialists have doubled-down in shouting their nonsense in defiance of the established facts.

    Rather than discrediting the facts of climate change It’s the 1% who have the most to lose from interfering with the status quo and they are the real reactionaries. It was only a year ago that many of the same pundits were insisting there was no warming happening at all.

    Of course nothing significant will happen as a result of that speech but at least some things were needed to be said in a large public forum and rubbing a lump of coal on the problem won’t make it go away.

  14. johno

    MN… well said.

  15. Kaye Lee

    David,

    You say “If you can’t win an argument with reasoning”…..?????

    How much evidence would you like to prove what you are saying is total crap?

    How about you start here.

    “What’s the link between cosmic rays and climate change?”

    https://skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=277

  16. Rossleigh

    David, as your quoting Dr Roy Spencer, perhaps you’d like to use him as an authority on evolution: “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college.”

  17. Kaye Lee

    Spencer is on the Board of Advisors of the Cornwall Alliance – a religious group that essentially believes God wouldn’t let damaging climate change happen.

  18. guest

    David Bruce,

    you think scientists who attribute human activity to the cause for current climate change know nothing about the role of the sun?

    “Most recently a review article by Judith Lean of the US Naval Research Laboratory concluded that the 11-year sunspot cycle causes a temperature fluctuation of about 0.1 degree C, and that since 1850 a gradual overall increase in the Sun’s irradiance has added perhaps another 0.1 degree C to the global temperature.” (Tony Eggleton, Cambridge UP, 2013, p.34)

    Nor do cosmic rays have any great effect. (Eggleton, p.35)

    Your claims about “vigorous new research” are bogus claims which have been debunked long ago.

    There is no coherent denier science about climate change, just a collection of weird and contradictory claims to fuzz the real science and and to make use of the gullibility of those people who want to believe their nonsense.

    Just the other night an ex-politician claimed on tv that we do not know what causes climate change and we must not rush into dealing with it. Besides, coal is our number one export.

    And there you have it. It is all about the money. And deniers are very often paid to lie to protect the investments of those who emit the root cause of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    No wonder denier propagandists are livid that they are being criticised by mere children!

  19. Zathras

    “Not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer and not everyone with lung cancer has ever smoked. Therefore it can not be claimed that smoking causes cause lung cancer”. That’s what’s called “blurring the science” and how the tobacco companies managed to convince the US Surgeon General not to withdraw their product from the market decades ago. All resulting legislation has been behaviorable (banning the activity in certain places) rather than medical and open to challenge.

    It’s no surprise that the people behind the climate denialist industry are the same ones responsible for that tobacco ruling, not to mention DDT and acid rain from heavy industries among others. They have a well-established history and influential clientele.

    Dragging out creationism as a science (under another name) is not an argument to disprove evolution. It’s not like “if evolution’s not 100% correct then a sky-wizard must have done it”. The onus is on creationists to prove their own theory and not discredit another and thereby automatically claiming their own is correct.

    Let the cosmic ray brigade prove their own theory with 98% scientific peer reviewed agreement first and maybe they would be worth listening to.

  20. guest

    Zathras,

    the deniers are not going to get 98% agreement on cosmic rays because not all deniers agree with it. They all have their own “theories” about climate change/warming. They cannot even agree with each other and often contradict each other.

    As we have seen with politicians, they are quite happy to deny with no scientific proof because there is no coherent science of denial.

    We can see how keen Morrison is about discussing climate change/warming. He is more interested in visiting a cardboard box factory.

    Morrison’a approach to climate change/warming is first of all to say that the Coalition will meet its Paris agreement “at a canter” and then to list off other concerns such as plastic in the oceans, drought, house prices, unemployment, poverty, energy prices…etc in order to smother any specific talk about the effects of burning coal and fossil fuels.

    And we see how willing the conservative business-as-usual people are to shoot the messenger, especially when it is a sixteen year-old child.

  21. Aortic

    Absolutely stunned to read that Pauline Hanson, Craig Kelly and George Christensen have dismissed Greta as mentally deficient and being manipulated by left wing agitators. No mention of the obvious fact that they are mentally deficient and being manipulated by their own need for some form of recognition and the Bronze Age thinking of their electors leading to this drivel from what passes as their thinking. Can understand maybe the Queerlanders having too much sun on the scone but what of Craig Kelly? Can too much furniture polish perhaps penetrate the skull, rendering it clueless? Nonetheless the PM has told all kiddies not to be too concerned about It all, as he has several more lumps of coal in his office in Parliament House that can be produced if things get too hot. Just as an aside rewatched the interview with the then opposition leader Tony Abbott and Kerry O Brien. Abbott’s answer to the many questions he did not have a single clue about, was School Halls and Pink Batts. Then we graduated to Turdball and Morribund. Sleep well we also have Trump and Johnson to complete the picture. If climate change doesn’t finish us off these clowns certainly will. Watch Trumpie rattle the sabres now that the Democrats have initiated an impeachment inquiry. Enjoy the peace while we can.

  22. LOVO

    Ah, Greta. ..there is so much hope in your despondency, so much hope in your anger, your telling it like it is…your admonishments…your in ya face whether you like it or not’s..bring’s forth ….hope. Woo hoo 😄
    And now for some good news, my little group, in my little town advocated for my little town’s council to declare a Climate Emergency….and our Mayor took it on board and she put forward a Mayoral Minute at tonight’s council meeting to declare an Climate Emergency ….it passed. Woo hoo
    From little things big things grow….woo hoo!!!!
    …and now the real ‘work’ starts….

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