Of COPs, MOPs and a global battle of duelling doomsayers

First an amendment/update to an earlier post in which I had observed:

“No sooner had the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) picked itself up after (predictably flopping in) Tianjin, China, than it was onwards and upwards to Pachauri’s ‘hell no, I won’t go show’ at Busan, Korea, aka the “Thirty-Second Session of the IPCC”. Then they took a breather (although I’m not sure where) before heading to Nagoya, Japan for yet another UNEP sponsored meeting.” [COP 10 of the CBD. Please see below for definitions -hro]

On further investigation, it seems that while the IPCC meeting was underway (Oct. 11-14), there was a (competing?!) pre-COP10 COP-MOP5: “The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties” (Oct. 11-15)

So, the UNFCCC’s 5-day Tianjin flop (Oct 4-9) was followed by IPCC’s 3-day meeting for a total of 8 days on “climate change”. And “biodiversity loss” MOP gets a 4-day meeting, prior to an 11-day COP (Oct. 18-29) for a total of 15 days. All under the auspices of the UNEP, of course. But I digress …

It seems that the latest and greatest of the UNEP‘s scaremongering acronymic offspring, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a body that has been carefully nurtured from “concept note” to “history making … gold standard science policy body“, as I had noted a few days ago, has encountered a rather serious stumbling block.

Alas, there’s a lack of consensus amongst the delegates to the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Consequently, the IPBES “side event” may well be sidelined (en route to full UN General Assembly blessing), and the Busan green light given in June might be changing to orange during the current Nagoya confab.

The BBC’s Richard Black reports from the scene of the turmoil:

Nature panel under threat as nations wrangle
Political wrangling threatens to derail plans to establish a global science panel to assess the loss of nature.

Governments agreed earlier this to set up (sic) the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

But moves being made at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting here threaten to block ratification by the UN General Assembly.

Conservation groups believe IPBES could prove essential in persuading leaders to ramp up measures to protect nature.

Proponents, including many governments, believe it can play the same role for biodiversity as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has played in that field – taking authoritative analyses of relevant science directly to policymakers.
[...]
“The CBD meeting does not have a say over the fate of IPBES formally, because that’s the responsibility of the UN General Assembly,” said Anne Larigauderie, executive director of the biodiversity policy organisation Diversitas, who has been closely involved in discussions on setting up IPBES.

“But it’s extremely important, of course, that the meeting comes to an agreement in support of IPBES, because IPBES is precisely to improve the functioning of this convention by making it more science-based,” she told BBC News.
[...]

Hmmm …. Diversitas? Anne Lariguaderie? Considering her involvement, she’s certainly more diplomatic than some of the leading lights in Big Green. But it is worth noting that Diversitas appears to be a sponsor of (or quite closely aligned with) a video project called Crisis of Life. One of “the scientists” is none other than (drumroll please) … Anne Lariguaderie. A few enlightening excerpts from this video project’s poster:

“ecologists and activists talk about ways to stop the ongoing biodiversity crisis to ensure the survival of all living beings, including ourselves.”

“Extinction of species is forever. Ecosystem collapse threatens human welfare on a global basis.”

“Most consequences are irreversible, leaving future generations to live on a greatly impoverished planet.”

“This video project is a wake-up call to us all to inform ourselves and then take action”

“The biodiversity crisis may be an even bigger threat to us than the climate crisis”

Who would have thought that there could be anything on God’s green earth that could be an “even bigger threat … than the climate crisis“? Certainly not Michael Mann* or the honourable members of the CRU crew.

* “Overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is heating the planet, shrinking the Arctic ice cap, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. It is leading to more widespread drought, more frequent heat waves and more powerful hurricanes.
[...]
“Burying our heads in the sand would leave future generations at the mercy of potentially dangerous changes in our climate. The only sure way to mitigate these threats is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next few decades” [Michael Mann, OpEd in the Washington Post, circa Oct. 7/10]

Pure unadulterated speculations <alert>

Could it be that underlying the political wrangling noted by Black, above, there might be some turf wars afoot amongst the scientists/advocates/activists who are advising the official (i.e. voting) delegates?

Consider the following excerpts from a document, which presumably at some point will be (or may already have been) received/reviewed as part of the COP 10 CBD deliberations:

Annex
HIGH-LEVEL MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON BIODIVERSITY

22 September 2010, New York

PRESIDENT’S SUMMARY

Today, as a contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity, world leaders met for the first time for the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Biodiversity and reaffirmed the political will to reverse the alarming loss of biodiversity occurring throughout our planet.
[...]
The true economic values of biodiversity and the ecosystem services it underpins are now being identified to their full extent. Member States and other participants considered it important that such investigation continue as a matter of priority. They called for strengthening the biodiversity and economy nexus by incorporating the true values of biodiversity into economic theory, financial planning and investments in all sectors, as well as in policy and planning processes at all levels. Green economy, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and payments for ecosystem services were mentioned as important concepts and initiatives.

Member states and other participants also recognised that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are an essential part of solution to the challenges of climate change. They noted that there are substantial benefits to be gained from the coherent implementation of the three Rio conventions as well as other biodiversity-related conventions. For example, initiatives for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) could provide co-benefits for biodiversity and local livelihoods. The upcoming Nagoya and Cancun meetings later this year and the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 provide timely opportunities to ensure that measures taken under the related Conventions are mutually supportive.
[...]
COP10 presents an important opportunity to adopt a post-2010 strategic plan that contains ambitious, measurable and time-bound biodiversity targets for 2020. This plan would provide a common framework for action on biodiversity at the international, regional, national and local levels, and across various issues, from terrestrial and marine protected areas to combating of ocean acidification.[...]
[...]
Furthermore, noting the important linkage between scientific knowledge to effective policy-making, Member States and other participants stressed the importance of establishing an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
[...]
Finally, noting the Geneva Call for Action issued by the past and future presidencies of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Member States and participants noted that if current rates of biodiversity loss are not reversed, there will be drastic consequences for human societies.

They recognized the need for coordinated and urgent action across all sectors of government and society to address the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss. There is a need to reform our means of production, consumption and economic growth to ensure that we live within the ecological limits. Together, we can find ways to protect the “Mother Earth” and live in harmony with nature. [emphases added -hro]

Consider also that during the past year we have heard repeatedly that “nothing undermines the ‘science’ of “climate change” (notwitstanding the fact that no one has looked at the “science”).

Reading between the lines of the above ‘high level’ meeting summary, climate change gets an honourable mention (because that science is “settled”?!) while biodiversity loss is definitely ascendant.

It’s also worth noting that the first book of the “new testament” (TEEB for Policiymakers) of the Climate Bible contains the following mentions:

Climate change 34
Global warming 2
Carbon dioxide 0

Hmmmm … Is this a “scientific” coup d’état I see before me?!

Achim Steiner (the UNEP’s head honcho, who might reasonably be dubbed “Mr. Conservation”) is also a member of TEEB’s Advisory Board. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to see the TEEB team’s 2 years of work sit on the shelf. Not to mention that Team TEEB has a very catchy mantra (courtesy of Team leader, Pavan Sukhdev): “What you do not measure, you cannot manage”. (Hidden message: Send us your measurements, and we shall manage!)

If I were in Steiner’s shoes, and had to favour one child (IPCC and its star-studded cast of “thousands”) over another (IPBES and its smaller stable of relative unknowns), I would want to weigh their respective assets and liabilities.

Assuming that he’s a pragmatist, Steiner would see that the IPCC has a lot of liabilities – not the least of which is the headaches caused by its poor performance over the past year, and its failure to fix the carbon conundrum (resulting in the imminent demise of the popularity of carbon credits/trading, solar power and wind turbines). Add to this several very public suggestions that perhaps the IPCC has outlived its usefulness.

IPCC Assets? Not so many. AR5? Very early days … not likely to be too many tears if the UNEP were to say, “Thank you so much for settling the science, IPCC. You’ve done a Nobel award-winning wonderful job … but money’s getting tight and we have to cut back. So here’s your pink slip”.

Worst case scenario from Steiner’s perspective? IPBES will let the “climate scientists” fight over a bone by incorporating a token chapter on “global climate disruption” into TEEB2.

I could be wrong (it has been known to happen!) and I did give you a “speculation alert” … but, at this point in time … that’s the view from here ;-)

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17 thoughts on “Of COPs, MOPs and a global battle of duelling doomsayers

  1. Re: this quote from (near the bottom of the President’s summary):

    “There is a need to reform our means of production, consumption and economic growth to ensure that we live within the ecological limits. Together, we can find ways to protect the “Mother Earth” and live in harmony with nature.”

    No one knows what our “ecological limits” might be. For the last 40 years activists have used this line, predicting that resources – from minerals to oil – will run out. The fact that their predictions always turn out to be wrong, that more resources are discovered (or superior substitutes found) still hasn’t convinced these fearful, conservative personality types to re-examine their basic assumptions.

    There is no reason to believe that humans have ever lived “in harmony” with Nature. We lived short, miserable lives at her mercy (fleas, famine, natural disasters, death in childbirth, plagues) until we managed to protect ourselves from Nature via human inventions such as shelter, medicine, high-yield fertilizer, and insecticide). As recently as 250 years ago, Jean Jacques Rousseau said it was Nature’s Law that half of all children should die before reaching their 8th birthday. It was normal, it was to be expected. Why try to change it, he asked?

    Living in harmony with nature is a fantasy equivalent to the Garden of Eden. Despite it’s strong emotional appeal, it has never been possible or practical.

    Moreover, anyone who insists we “need to reform our means of production, consumption and economic growth” is selling a political philosophy. Such people aren’t merely addressing a single concern (biodiversity), they are attempting to fundamentally re-shape human society. They are attempting to impose their views regarding how humans should live. But the current state of affairs has been chosen by all of us who reside in democratic nations. We have indicated our clear preference for this way of life despite 40 years of doomsday activists shouting that our choices will take us straight to hell in a handcart.

    It seems to me that our reduced infant mortality, our ever-increasing lifespans, our steadily improving quality of life are all things that should be celebrated – and vigorously protected from those who perversely still think all will be perfect if we “reform our means of production, consumption and economic growth”.

    Thanks for this piece. Lots to think about!

    • Re: Donna Laframboise (Oct 23 05:15), Donna, here’s something to mull over. What, do you suppose, would/will the effect be of providing humanity with a totally non-polluting power source, deployable anywhere, at 1/20 the best cost of N.A. retail electricity?

      The roll-out could begin within 5 years.

      focusfusion.org LPPhysics.com

      http://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/article/lpp_webinar_online/

      The environment will be littered with Greenie economic roadkill, IMO.

    • Donna, I don’t disagree with anything you’ve written (so articulately!) above. Particularly:

      anyone who insists we “need to reform our means of production, consumption and economic growth” is selling a political philosophy. Such people aren’t merely addressing a single concern (biodiversity), they are attempting to fundamentally re-shape human society. They are attempting to impose their views regarding how humans should live. But the current state of affairs has been chosen by all of us who reside in democratic nations. We have indicated our clear preference for this way of life despite 40 years of doomsday activists shouting that our choices will take us straight to hell in a handcart.

      I don’t subscribe to the “conspiracy theory of history” … and I’ve seen many commenters refer to “Agenda 21″, the “Club of Rome” etc. But, with this very recent UN “high level” statement one doesn’t need to go that far back.

      I haven’t done any searches to verify this, but I don’t recall seeing any MSM journalists who have brought this to our attention. And I think this is rather important, as I’m sure you do, too! Maybe there wasn’t a “high level” press release about this statement, so the implications escaped their notice.

      Whatever happened to good old-fashioned journalism, eh?!

      P.S. Sorry the piece was so long, but I didn’t want to risk being accused of taking things out of context ;-)

  2. Considering that biodiversity loss is occurring only in the ecological computer models, and is unobserved or not happening in the real world, the trajectory seems to be uncannily similar to climate warming/change/disruption.

    • I agree. It’s almost as though there’s a playbook/”template” they’re following. Hey, it worked for “climate change” for many years … why not recycle, eh?!

  3. This all seems to have sprung from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment which dovetails with the so-called “environmentalist’s paradox” (“We just KNOW that people are harming the earth while they are getting better off, don’t you know?”). Because, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that human well-being had increased while there was a large global declines in most ecosystem services.

    With all this comes the meme that we are in another great extinction that exceeds the die off of the dinosaurs. Dave Roberts at Grist.com put it this way, “[Despite the fact that humans are doing better, the] natural world, however, is going to sh*t. Species are dying off, the oceans are acidifying, forests are getting eaten by pine beetles, ice is melting, and plains are becoming deserts.”

    I hope that given the TEEB of “What you do not measure, you cannot manage,” that somewhere there might be some measurements and not simply (out of their a**) assessments. Numbers would help. (Well maybe not, if the IPCC is the role model)

    Still, has anyone seen any data to back up the accusation that the earth is losing species at 100 to 1000 times the extinction rate of yesteryear?

    • “Still, has anyone seen any data to back up the accusation that the earth is losing species at 100 to 1000 times the extinction rate of yesteryear?”

      Data? Perhaps. Reliable data, not so much. You might be interested in Donna Laframboise’s recent series of exposés on the IPCC’s venture into “species extinction”>: Extinction Fiction

    • Thanks for the Extinction Fiction paper. It had a number of good points with the references included.

      In all of this I’m reminded of some scientist (biologist?) during the Jimmy Carter administration declaring that some3 to 10 million species would be extinct by the end of the century. And yet, even though the estimable EO Wilson says that extinctions are occurring 1000 times faster than any time since humans arrived, since the endangered species act, around seven or so species have been declared extinct.

    • New species are being discovered at a much higher rate than species are observed to be going extinct.

      Every extinction opens up a niche food supply (energy source) that will be filled over time through mutation and natural selection to create new species. Without extinction there would be no energy available to allow for new species.

      Thus, after every mass extinction we see in the fossil records we find an explosion of new species. Before the extinction we see species stagnating as competition over scarce resources limits the ability of new species to evolve.

      If a forest, the greatest growth in new species occurs after a forest fire.

  4. The astonishingly wrong and repercussion-free prediction of imminent doom that first riveted my attention was the claim of the impending mass extinction of the Earth’s species. In 1979, the biologist Norman Myers declared that a fifth of all species on the planet would be gone within two decades. This prediction was based upon . . . absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Myers acknowledged that the documented species extinction rate of animals was 1 per year; he then asserted that scientists had “hazarded a guess” that the actual rate was 100 per year; he then speculated that government inaction was “likely to lead” to several thousand or even tens of thousands a year, which would add up to as much as a million species over two decades. (This was when people thought there were 5 million species; the best guess now is at least 10 million.) It swiftly became conventional wisdom.

    http://budiansky.blogspot.com/2010/09/teflon-doomsayers.html#ixzz13PfNflG1

    • Hmmm … 1979, that was during Carter’s term and “biologist Norman Myers” Looks like you’ve filled in the blanks (or at least Budiansky has) for Timberati …Thanks, Brian :-)

      Amazing how these myths migrate and take on a life of their own. It’s always interesting to check connections. One of the first questions I ask myself these days whenever I see outlandish claims is: I wonder if there’s any affiliation with the WWF and/or Greenpeace. Here’s one of the items my “Norman Myers” +WWF turned up:

      The Arizona Skeptic A Journal Promoting Critical Thinking

      Volume 5, Issue 5 March/April 1992

      [the following is an excerpt from one of a number of articles in this issue of the Journal -hro]

      Truth Almost Extinct in Tales of Imperiled Species
      By Julian Simon

      Front page story, _The Washington Post_, Jan. 1, 1984: “A potential biological transformation of the planet unequaled perhaps since the disappearance of the dinosaur,” says Thomas Lovejoy of the World Wildlife Fund. “The folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us,” says Edward O. Wilson of Harvard. These statements typify the scary rhetoric the public hears about potential species extinction, usually a prediction that a million or more existing species could be lost to mankind in the next two decades if remedial action isn’t taken at once. (To be fair, the _Post_’s story was much less overheated than is usually the case with this issue.)

      Yet–there is absolutely no solid evidence supporting the prediction that a million or more existing species will be lost to mankind in the next two decades if radical remedial steps are not taken by the governments of the world. A fair reading of the available data suggests a prediction perhaps one-thousandth that great. But the conservationists are beating the big drum for money and action based on their frightening claims.
      [...]

      “When we talk about the loss of 1 million species,” [WWF President Russell E.] Train says in [a fundraising pitch] letter, “we are talking about a global loss with consequences that science can scarcely begin to predict.

      “The future of the world could be altered drastically if we allow a million species to disappear by the year 2000.”

      I couldn’t agree more; the sudden disappearance of a million life forms would have major ecological effects. However, the WWF prediction completely lacks factual basis. WWF backs the million-species claim only with the statement “some scientists believe.” This is no scientific evidence at all. You can ind “some scientists” who will say they believe almost any proposition you like, even if the established scientific facts are quite the opposite. In the advertising trade (a usually honorable trade that I practiced in my youth), such a statement is known as weasel-wording. Such weasel-wording would draw the ire of the Federal Trade Commission if made on behalf of a deodorant.

      The available evidence on species suggests an astonishingly different picture, however. The proximate source for WWF’s forecast is the 1979 book, _The Sinking Ark_, by Norman Myers. Mr. Myers gives these two statistics: the estimated extinction rate of known species between the years 1600 and 1900 was about one every four years. And the estimated rate from 1900 to the present was about one a year. Mr. Myers gives no sources for these two estimates,
      [...]
      In brief, this extinction rate is nothing but pure guesswork. The forecast is a thousand times greater than the present–yet it has been published in newspapers and understood as a scientific statement.

      Thomas Lovejoy and Norman Myers were at a meeting when I first presented this critique. They found no statistical flaw in it, although they did attack my interpretation, motives, and credentials to discuss biological data.
      [...]
      [Simon concludes:]
      The facts cast the phenomenon of species extinction in a much less frightening light than the WWF picture of fragile valuable species dying off forever with no possibility of replacing or substituting for them. [emphases and ellipses mine -hro]

      So there you have it, Timberati and Brian … Wilson and Myers all in one package!

      Not to mention some very familiar “tactic” bells ringing, eh?!

      Hilary

  5. Per Monckton, WWF and Greenpeace have both long since been taken over by the revanchist Communists, who find that Watermelonism serves quite nicely, thank you, as a vehicle for unifying the planet under their benign progressiveness.
    (2-hr+ interview. Very thorough.)

  6. The Economist magazine has put its toe in the water, so to speak, and said to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), “Roll up your sleeves and get some real numbers.”

    http://www.economist.com/node/17309075

    “The convention’s strategy for plant conservation has yet to deliver the first of its aims (a list of the world’s plants)…

    Should the CBD be scrapped? It is tempting to say yes when it comes up with overblown, unobtainable targets, such as stopping all extinctions anywhere…But when it sticks to achievable, measurable targets, such as increasing the area of nature reserves in the ocean, it can provide a useful focus…”

  7. Interesting POV from William Briggs (Are We In The Midst Of A Global Extinction Event?). “Suppose you have a list of Officially Tracked Species which are, obviously, known to you. There can be any number of species not known to you. At some point you go out in the field and try to count the number of each officially tracked species. Some time later, you venture out again and re-count. Only two things can happen: (1) the number of each species can go up or stay the same or (2) they can go down or become zero. But no matter what, the number of species on your official list can only decrease.”

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=3084

  8. Yes. Inconveniently, the number of new species discovered each year far exceeds the number of “Missing and Presumed Extinct”. As with all MIAs, some of the latter turn up from time to time as well, in various conditions of health.

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