Bailing on Climate Change

First Obama, now Ban-Ki Moon, the U.N. Secretary General, according to the Guardian:

In a strategic shift, Ban will redirect his efforts from trying to encourage movement in the international climate change negotiations to a broader agenda of promoting clean energy and sustainable development, senior UN officials said.

The officials said the change in focus reflected Ban’s realisation, after his deep involvement with the failed Copenhagen summit in 2009, that world leaders are not prepared to come together in a sweeping agreement on global warming ““ at least not for the next few years.

Hmm, anyone seeing a trend here?

Of course, I don’t think either Obama or Ban are actually giving up on the climate change cause. They’re just going about it differently, one might even say obliquely.

On a related note, I see the U.N. Secretary General is in another story, reported from Davos:

The world’s current economic model is an environmental “global suicide pact” that will result in disaster if it isn’t reformed, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, warned today.

So what do we do?

We need a revolution,” he told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on how best to make the global economy sustainable. “Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete.”

I’m down with that, but a few more details please. Otherwise, for inspiration, I’ll turn to these guys.

My favorite part of that story comes at the end:

The panel moderator, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, said he hoped next year participants would return to the Swiss ski resort “and be able to say that a molecule of CO2 was actually affected by what we say and do here”.

Pray tell, does this mean solar panels are going up on the roof here?

29 Responses to “Bailing on Climate Change”

  1. laursaurus says:

    I’m enjoying these music videos you’ve been posting….
    What were we talking about again? LOL
    It seems like passing health care insurance reform took all of Obama’s energy and political will. He has another election coming up, so why piss off a huge segment of voters again? The Lefties will likely vote for him either way. It’s all about winning over the independents.

  2. kdk33 says:

    Wow, that Air Vent guy is looking less paranoid by the minute.

    Of course, free market capitalism is the most sustainable path forward because scarcity is therein largely self correcting.  Only government planning drives scarcity beyond the point of recovery (see e.g. USSR).  Democracy handles meaningful externalities well; and refuses those that aren’t (see e.g. GHG).

    But hey, don’t let that stand in the way of the revolution.  Vive le UN IPCC (is that le or la?).

  3. Keith Kloor says:

    @1 “It’s all about winning over the independents.”



    I miss Jeff during times like these. I doubt very much the U.N. Sec general is making an argument for socialism, so it would be fun to see Jeff do a typical bogeyman rant in reax.

  4. Shub says:

    Once again,…
    What if the UN does not want socialism, but what it wants, is, socialism?

  5. Keith Kloor says:

    Shub, is that some kind climate skeptic zen koan?

    Sorry, the sound of one hand clapping always confuses me.

  6. Shub says:

    No KK, I am simply asking. The UN, insofar the climate problem is concerned, advocates a ‘global emissions control’ approach. Since CO2 is produced in amost every walk of human activity, it obviously necessitates control or regulation of these aspects. Therefore its approach is akin to what socialist forms of government do.
    Why is this so controversial for you?
    Secondly, not all of us use ‘socialism’ as a dirty word. It is just a political descriptor many times. How can we discuss these issues in the context of climate if, everytime someone utters the word socialism, the negative connotations the word carries in the US political context, are used to bash down the one who utters the word?

  7. Keith Kloor says:


    Nice try. Tell you what, though I’ll just go ahead and rephrase that last paragraph, making one mere word substitution in two places, and you tell me if you’re still okay with it:

    Secondly, not all of us use “˜denier‘ as a dirty word. It is just a political descriptor many times. How can we discuss these issues in the context of climate if, everytime someone utters the word denialsim, the negative connotations the word carries in the US political context, are used to bash down the one who utters the word?


  8. JD Ohio says:

    #7 KK
    Your comparison of the use of “socialist” to “denier” is far off the mark for two reasons.  1.  You use the the term “denier” in your blog.  For instance, asking in one thread what is the difference between a skeptic and a denier.  2.  There are substantial numbers of socialists throughout the world and in western societies.  Holocaust Deniers are a small band of cranks with no real influence in Western societies.  (Don’t know the extent of Holocaust Denial in Muslim societies.)  The class envy pushed by the left wing of the Democratic party is not that far from socialism.  If you take their view that more money will solve all problems (particularly money from evil big business and the evil rich), you are not that far from socialism.
    Those who oppose the many fallacies of the catastrophic warmists have nothing in common with Holocaust Deniers.

  9. Keith Kloor says:


    On the contrary, it’s perfect, since those who use “denier” arguably make the claim that there are different sorts of science deniers–evolution, anti-vaccine, climate, etc.

    Same point Shub is making with respect to different flavors of socialists supposedly negating the commonly/popularly held of view of socialism, which, wink, wink, is deliberately associated with Marxist/Stalinist/communism.

    Nice try, tho.

    But do keep at it. I’m already claiming checkmate. Let me know when you’re ready to agree.

  10. Shub says:

    Yes KK, the discussion of the reality of ‘denialism’ is complicated by the use of unfortunate, but purposefully injurious word “denier”.
    Let us not allow the McCarthyite reverse-smearing of the word ‘socialism’ get in the way of discussion of political realities of socialism.
    Socialism – the word, does not have any ‘Holocaust Denier’-like negative connotations, at least in my lexicon. Yes, *I* may recognize it as ‘evil’, but that is my politics and I can keep that well in check enough for us to engage.
    The word ‘denier’ does not allow that. It excludes the accused from portraying their presumed denialism after their own manner. That is the aim of such labels.
    What was that thing about checkmates again?

  11. JD Ohio says:

    KK#9  You can call a pig a swan but that doesn’t make it so.  Same with your claim of checkmate.  The Denier innuendo is an obvious, underhanded smear trying to falsely link realists to Holocaust Denial.  The fact that is so consistently used by extremist warmists (Such as Hansen) shows that the vicious innuendo is intended  The use of the term “socialist” by conservatives is not done in a  uniform manner.
    I will grant you that a few fanatics use the term “socialist” as an attempt to link to communism or stalinism and sometimes unfairly.  However, socialism is strongly linked to communism or Stalinism, so the overlap is unavoidable even though there are many flavors of socialism very much different from communism and Stalinism.
    The main point though is that huge government spending and control (the disgraceful attempt to make Americans file returns identifying each entity to which they paid $600 in a tax year is an example of this) is not that far from certain flavors of socialism, of which there are many.  Guess on this subject, you simply can’t avoid a huge bout of cognitive dissonance.

  12. Keith Kloor says:

    You both (Shub and JD) would end up on the losing end of a debate with me.

    Sometimes you got to be able to call a pig a pig.

  13. Shub says:

    It was your claim that the issue of socialism is a ‘bogeyman’ in the climate debate that got this ball rolling. In order to show up Jeff’s arguments as ‘bogeyman’, you will have to show that the UN’s solutions are not socialist in nature.

  14. Keith Kloor says:


    I’m tempted to just bang my head on the wall a few times so I can better understand what you’re claiming now.

    Go back and read the articles I linked to and in any of the statements attributed to Secretary General, please show me the word socialism or connection thereof.

    Socialism has about as great a chance taking root in the western world as a top-down emissions cap. The Secretary General, based on the first article I linked to, understands this well, which is why he’s emulating Obama’s shift to clean energy. How you equate the “revolution” rhetoric I cite in that second article with a call to socialism is beyond me.

    But back to that rephrased statement of yours, with the word denier substituted for socialist: how does that grab you?

    You’re not digging that, I suppose.

  15. Shub says:

    “Socialism has about as great a chance taking root in the western world as a top-down emissions cap.”
    If I am correct on this, this is your primary reasons for believing that Jeff’s rants as bogeyman.
    I’ll give two answers for this position. First, the more generalized one. As Frederic Bastiat states in ‘The Law’:
    “Mr. de Montalembert has been accused of desiring to fight socialism by the use of brute force. He ought to be exonerated from this accusation, for he has plainly said: “The war that we must fight against socialism must be in harmony with law, honor, and justice.”

    But why does not Mr. de Montalembert see that he has placed himself in a vicious circle? You would use the law to oppose socialism? But it is upon the law that socialism itself relies. Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.”
    So it is with socialism. It may not declare itself to be ‘socialism’, it does exist in today’s American law. Socialism has every chance of widely infiltrating Western society, it has done so to a good extent already. It just does not take forms American society is tuned to recognize, from its history.
    Secondly, I will not claim that denialism should go on hiding and lurk behind loud protestations of use of the word ‘denier’, unfortunate as it may be.

  16. kdk33 says:

    Socialism:  a theory or system of social organization that advocates vesting the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.  

    Fascism:  a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.


    The UN would like the power (by treaty or force or both) to regulate the energy sector of the worlds economy.  Energy is a significant component of… well everything.  Control over the means of production would not be complete, but would be significant.  They seek a very real power to choose winners and lossers and would undoubtedly use it.  It is undeniably (wink) a move away from the free market towards something else.

    Now, if you consider the UN a proxy for the community as a whole, then perhaps the UN is attempting semi-socialism.  If you find them dictatorish, then pseudo-fascist is more apt.  Split the difference: semi-socialistic-pseudo-fascism.  SSPF, for short.

    Debates work best when words have less flexible meanings.

  17. Tom Fuller says:

    Oh, we should just move this argument to Europe or not let Americans participate. Social Democrats of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your favorite rallying cry: “What do we want? Moderate change. When do we want it? In due course…”

  18. Shub says:

    Clean energy is nothing but cap-and-trade by other means
    “Listen carefully to Mr. Obama’s speech and you realize he spent plenty of it on carbon controls. He just used a different vocabulary. If the president can’t get carbon restrictions via cap and trade, he’ll get them instead with his new proposal for a “clean energy” standard”
    -Kimberley Strassel, WSJ.

  19. Jarmo says:

    Ban-Ki Moon is not providing any alternative economic model to counter the present “environmental suicide pact” as he puts it.

    However, he is not challenging the developing countries’ desire to attain something close to a Western standard of living.

    Does it really matter under which economic system this immense growth in use of natural resources will take place? The burden to the environment will be huge, whatever the system.


  20. kdk33 says:

    “Does it really matter under which economic system this immense growth in use of natural resources will take place? ”

    Yes.  A lot.

  21. Shub says:

    From a Realclimate comment, appreciating Gavin Schmidt’s use of the word denier in ‘Chemical and Engineering News’:
    “And it’s good to see some “D” bombs being dropped in such a staid publication. It’s especially nice to see C&E News take it out from behind the paywall and make it available to the general public. Good and gutsy move on the part of the C&E News folks.”
    It is very difficult to believe, at times, that the word ‘denier’ is just being used to describe a phenomenon

  22. harrywr2 says:

    Keith Kloor Says:
    January 29th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
    “The Secretary General, based on the first article I linked to, understands this well, which is why he’s emulating Obama’s shift to clean energy.”
    South Korea got caught out on coal supplies as a result of the Australian Floods. They’ve been buying coal on the sport market for $142 tonne in the last couple of weeks.
    South Korea has no domestic coal reserves.
    South Korea has a 2020 goal of 50% of electricity from nuclear.
    The South Korean firm Kepco recently entered the nuclear power export market and is enjoying modest initial success with a target of exporting 80 reactors by 2030.
    Clean(nuclear) energy appears to be a major South Korean export product. I would expect the South Korean Ambassador to the UN to push policies that promote South Korean products.

  23. David44 says:

    Two things:
    1.  I’m not so concerned with the connotation of “denier” relating to the Holocaust as I am lumping catastrophe skeptics in with creationists, anti-vaxers, etc.  Why is it that castatrophists can’t accept the fact that there are real, honest scientific concerns by science-literate people about the science of climate change concensus?  Is it because they are so ill-informed on details of the science that they can’t allow a rational discussion?  Is it because they have so much invested emotionally or financially that they can’t allow themselves to admit the validity of those concerns?
    2.  The pejorative “socialism” descriptor is a smokescreen to deflect attention from the real questions about how the working and middle class segments can get a fair slice of the pie stemming from the tremendous increases in productivity and wealth brought about by the technological revolution.  It’s all well and good for Bill and Malinda to give their huge wealth gained from his creativity and ruthless anticompetitive business practices to Africa, but should Gates get to that huge share of the pie to start with?
    Granted, I’d rather have him deciding how to best apply foreign aid than the government, but what happens to Americans who have been pushed out into the cold, sometimes literally? If people work for a living or are willing to work for a living, don’t they have a right to an opportunity and fair reward for their labors and to be protected from predatory capitalism?  Just because people like Gates are ruthless and creative geniuses do they have an existential right to such a great disparity of wealth compared to those of us not blessed with genius, creativity, business acumen, or the advantage of being born to wealthy parents?
    It’s hard to bootstrap yourself and your children up to a better life or even put bread on the table when you can’t get a decent education, a decent job, or a decent share of the pie.  Had it not been for “socialistic” government loans (fully paid back, BTW), fellowships, and a world-leading public university system, I would probably be an unemployed Midwestern working class slob today.  I thank 1960’s “socialists” for the fact that I’m not.

  24. kdk33 says:


    Times have been hard for me: can’t find work, bank took the house and cars, it rains a lot and it’s hard to find good cardboard boxes…  Since my tax dollars enabled you to bootstrap yourself to a better life, to how much of your wealth can I lay claim?  What would you consider fair?

  25. David44 says:

    I have a big cardboard box you can have.
    If you need money, contact Lloyd Blankfein.
    My post above was not about charity.  It was about the obscene and increasing disparity between the working class and the elite, the sorry state of public education, the lack of opportunities (jobs at a living wage for example) for the poor and working class, and the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the financial wizards begun under Reagan and continued by every Republican administration since.  Suggested reading:  Hoodwinked and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, both by John Perkins.

  26. grypo says:

    Any idea about environmental concerns has been tied to socialism since the Star Wars and Nuclear Winter controversies in the 70’s and 80’s.  This is not because Marx or Engels were environmentalists, but because any attempt to slow the nuclear build-up in the US was dubbed as a promotion of communism because it would allow the USSR to catch up to US military strength (which turned out to be a false worry).
    Regulatory ideas for reducing emissions are not socialistic ideas, big S or small s, they are market ideas to reduce external costs.  In socialism, the energy companies would be nationalized, and it’s target would be to redistribute income, not reduce emissions.  The idea that anything other than extreme predatory capitalism is now socialism, is of course, a mere seed planted long ago and an ignorance of economics.

  27. JD Ohio says:

    See Tobis post of 1/24 where he advocates the benefits of socialism.  See the mostly supportive comments.  Everytime people try to claim that the right is extremist and the left is moderate actual facts and news contradict the claims.  (Just like Paul Krugman in his column of 1/16/11 using hateful speech after railing against it earlier.)

  28. JD Ohio says:

    KK  My last 3 or 4 posts have been moderated.  Is there a reason for this.

  29. grypo says:

    It has little to with extremism in comparing polemics .  It has to do with factual terminology in politics and economics.  The extreme right uses basic political terms (socialism), and mixes it with an economic terms (externalities).  IOW,  for example, they take Milton Friedman’s politics (doesn’t think externalities should be paid for,  for political reasons), and confuses it with his economic knowledge (the existence of externalities). Therefore, externalities get mixed in with socialism.
    In my other example, up thread, they also did the same with nuclear weapons.  Confusing disarmament with supporting communism.  Therefore, not wanting nuclear winter or radiation poisoning the Earth became a communist idea.

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