Catching up … a trip down memory lane

So, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. Seems to me that the (chronologically!) older I get, the faster time flies. But from time to time, I’ve been (more or less) silently lurking … Sometimes with amusement, sometimes with despair – and at others with an almost virtually immobilized mindset mixture that knows not in which direction to turn, i.e. should I laugh, or should I cry?!

The latter of these three was – and, sadly, still is – more often than not precipitated by my observations of the various arms, hands, fingers and elbows of the United Nations [UN] (and/or its European “partner”, the European Union [EU]) “in action”. Or, perhaps more to the point, in mind-numbing “inaction” – where common sense action has long been urgently required.

View from here, so to speak, is that both bodies have become mindless bureaucracies that seem intent on increasing the power of their respective voices while diminishing that of (what should be, but increasingly is not) their respective constituencies, i.e. the democratic nations of the world. But I digress …

I’m not entirely sure what might have set my mind along this particular path. Perhaps it was an inner acknowledgement of having passed a significant birthday (no, I’m not going to tell you which one!) some months ago.

Then again, perhaps I have been paying too much attention to the ever-increasing – and increasingly shallow and/or inane – so-called “news coverage” proffered by the CBC, and/or its apparent “model” – you should pardon my use of this word! – the UK’s BBC. On the shallow and callow fronts, there is very little difference between them nowadays. The outputs of both are increasingly fading shadows of their former selves.

By way of example, consider the output of the BBC’s so-called “Environment Analyst”, Richard Harrabin, on the heels of the (now mercifully concluded Bonfire of the Inanities) June 1 to 11 Bonn Climate Change Conference. Thanks to the always awesome Alex Cull‘s transcript box, we learn of Harrabin’s “authoritative” summary**, which includes such gems as Harrabin’s (my bold -hro):

No, I mean – and this is the really huge caveat, that the nations all agree that what they’re offering to do, to protect the climate, will not protect the climate, by their own definition. And that’s – that’s the really massive downside. But you know, we’re trying to change the entire global economy, or at least the UN’s trying to change the entire global economy. And I think the delegates in the hall have taken inspiration from some of the extraordinary things that have been happening round the world, outside the hall. And they – I think they have more optimism now that they can actually do what they’re hoping to do.

**See also Alex’s own post on the above, which he concludes by asking:

Could one of the real reasons why the bureaucrats are smiling be the guaranteed prospect of future climate junkets, year after year, I can’t help but wonder?

For the record – and (surprise, surprise … not … particularly for those who might be interested in boring themselves to tears)… Here’s the IISD’s quasi-official summary of this multi-day Bonn gathering of the great and the good attended by:

nearly 4,000 participants, representing parties and observer states, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and media.

The output of their deliberations? A mere:

IISD-UNFCCC-summary2015-06-13

Perhaps a more accurate picture than that provided by the above (or Harrabin’s mish-mash, for that matter) is the somewhat more reliable summary offered by the IISD and appended to the above 18,603 words. Their intro – unlike that of so many that could be named – is worth reading in full (my bold -hro):

STARTING SUBSTANTIVE NEGOTIATIONS

The most important objective of the Bonn conference was to begin substantive negotiations on the Geneva text. In this regard, the results were rather modest. Since the bulk of negotiating time was dedicated to streamlining and rationalizing the text, it was only towards the end of the meeting that some facilitated groups managed to engage in conceptual discussions. In the facilitated group on institutional arrangements and that on finance, for example, parties debated the concepts behind their proposals, without negotiating the substance of the issues at hand.

Little progress was also made on whether or not to start identifying which elements of the Geneva text are to be housed in the agreement, and which are best treated in COP decisions. This exercise is key if governments want to start delineating a nimble agreement with general provisions, which can be fleshed out and operationalized by decisions over time. However, many parties in Bonn were reluctant to engage in this exercise, fearing that an agreement to move text into decisions would downgrade the new agreement’s legal force.

The lack of progress on these and other issues will put more pressure on delegates when they meet again at the next two ADP meetings scheduled before Paris. The same may be said about lack of progress on catalyzing pre-2020 action. To the surprise of many, negotiations on this issue virtually stalled in Bonn, with parties unable to agree on what the mandate of the ADP workstream on pre-2020 ambition actually entails. Many developing countries consider pre-2020 ambition as a springboard for enhancing post-2020 action. The polarization of views on pre-2020 ambition could therefore set back progress towards the 2015 agreement.

Another potential threat comes from disputes over the mandate of the 2013-2015 review. In Bonn, a handful of parties disputed that matters of substance be captured in the results of the review, bringing negotiations under this issue to a halt. Since the ADP is meant to be informed by the results of the review, negotiators in Paris will be faced by the additional hurdle of bridging parties’ differences and concluding work on this matter.

For those who might be interested, the oh-so-important “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] received a grand total of nine honourable (but blandly uninformative) mentions during the course of these proceedings. Not a single one of which was deemed worthy of mention in the ISSD’s summary.

Just for the record, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]’s Executive Secretary, Christiana <tinkerbell> Figueres’ contributions to these days of deliberation were noted as follows:

The Bonn Climate Change Conference opened on Monday morning, 1 June. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said this session should be seen as “a construction site” for the Subsidiary Bodies and the ADP to pave the way for the 2015 agreement.

[and also on June 1:]

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres presented the sub-item (FCCC/SBI/2015/3 and Adds. 1-3). She drew attention to additional requirements arising from, inter alia, MRV implementation and institutional support to adaptation, and to the resource requirements for the Trust Fund for Participation in the UNFCCC Process.

[and presumably on June 11:]

In closing, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres thanked SBSTA Chair Wojtal for her courage, good management and leadership. Wojtal thanked parties for their hard work and said communication channels will remain open as they work toward Paris.

So “transformative” and so inspiring, eh?! Meanwhile, back on the “transformative” but considerably less than inspiring front …

Readers may recall that a little over three years ago, I had posted on what might well be the only genuine hockey-stick ever to have been produced – not to mention widely promulgated – by the UN and/or one of its ever-expanding multitude of arms, fingers etc.

At that time, we learned that ECOSOC had succeeded in building and expanding the ranks of “accredited” NGOs from a mere four in 1946 to over 3000 by late 2011. In the intervening years, this bloated constituency has increased by approximately 982:

ECOSOC-Totals-2012-2014

Once again, I am indebted to Peter Bobroff (the wizard behind AccessIPCC and his newer work in progress tome22) for taking yet another amateurish UN produced PDF and whipping it into a more accessible and searchable shape. Again, thanks to Bobroff’s wizardry, here’s a link to ECOSOC-additions-2012-2014, a spreadsheet (in .xls 97-2003 format) containing ECOSOC’s latest and greatest (original pdf here).

Yet, to add further UN generated insults to far too many UN generated injuries, as Caroline Glick noted in a recent article:

At the UN, Tuesday [June 9 -hro] “The Palestinian Return Center,” Hamas’s European chapter, was granted official status as a recognized nongovernmental organization by the UN’s Commission on NGOs. Now, thanks to the commission, Hamas terrorists can participate in UN meetings, have full access to UN facilities and wear their new, official UN badges.

Incidentally, the same commission rejected a request by ZAKA to receive the same status. ZAKA is an Israeli NGO that provides first aid and handles the remains of terrorism victims and victims of major disasters in Israel and worldwide.

But speaking of Hamas … Since you are highly unlikely to see this reported by the MSM – nor the consequences given much (if any) consideration by the UN and/or its honchos – it is worth noting, as Anne Bayefsky recently did, that (my bold -hro):

UN Secretary-General weighs lumping Israel in with ISIS and Al Qaeda

This week Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz have posed a challenge for would-be presidents and all Americans: if the United Nations criminalizes Israel’s exercise of the right of self-defense it will pay a heavy price. The organization has no right to expect billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to be doled out every year when they are spent undercutting our deepest values and our national security.

Graham and Cruz’s comments come after learning that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is now weighing whether to sign off on a report emanating from an Algerian U.N. “human rights expert” that analogizes Israel to ISIS, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda. Leila Zerrougui’s rights expertise includes eight years (2000-2008) as legal advisor to Algeria’s President-for-life Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Clearly, Ki-moon has, as usual, failed to adequately inform himself. Had he chosen to do so, at the very least he would have taken into consideration the views expressed in a report by those who actually have <gasp> experience on various battlefields and who have investigated Israel’s conduct during last year’s war:

Key Preliminary Findings of the High Level International Military Group on the Gaza Conflict

From 18th – 22nd May 2015, the High Level International Military Group, made up of 11 former chiefs of staff, generals, senior officers, political leaders and officials from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia and Colombia visited Israel for a fact-finding mission on the 2014 Gaza conflict. We were led by General Klaus Naumann, former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, the most senior officer in the Alliance, and Giulio Terzi, former Foreign Minister of Italy. Also in the group were Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, formerly US State Department Ambassador at Large for war crimes issues; and Mr Rafael Bardaji, former National Security Adviser to the Government of Spain.

This was part of a longer term project by our group, whose principal concern is how civilian lives can be protected and military forces can fight effectively when operations must be conducted in a densely packed civilian area. We will be producing a full report this autumn.

[…]

We were well aware of the allegations made by some governments, the United Nations, human rights groups and the media, that Israel acted outside the laws of armed conflict in Gaza. Some have suggested that the IDF lacked restraint or even deliberately targeted innocent civilians.

Our findings lead us to the opposite conclusion. […]

[the authors conclude their interim report by noting:]

We agree with the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who following the Pentagon’s fact-finding mission to Israel, went on record last November as saying that in the 2014 Gaza conflict, “Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties”.

Our overall findings are that during Operation Protective Edge last summer, in the air, on the ground and at sea, Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard. We saw clear evidence of this from the upper to the lower levels of command. A measure of the seriousness with which Israel took its moral duties and its responsibilities under the laws of armed conflict is that in some cases Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.

I will be very surprised if we hear any of the above from either the CBC or the BBC. Mind you, to be fair to the CBC … I must confess that I was quite surprised to hear on yesterday’s 6:00 p.m. news broadcast a brief story on the alarming incidence of TB in Papua, New Guinea.

As I had commented by way of introduction, almost two years ago:

But speaking of the UN and its ever-increasing bureaucracies whose main accomplishments appear to be diversions which obscure the UN’s failure to accomplish its mandate, for example any significant peace in the troubled areas of the world. Here’s another example a UN failure of such magnitude that it beggars belief.

Back in 1993, according to Australia’s Jo Chandler, a real investigative journalist (compared to lightweight imitations such as the Guardian‘s Leo Hickman), the World Health Organization (WHO a member of the UN “family”) had declared Tuberculosis (TB) to be a “global emergency”.

In a very moving and disturbing article (that, IMHO, is a must read), Chandler recounts the ravages of this resurgent deadly scourge in Papua New Guinea – as well as her own experiences as a consequence of having contracted TB during the course of her investigations there [h/t Bill Gates via twitter Gates had posed the question: What disease has killed 1 billion people in last 200 yrs? Surprising answer].

[Following some excerpts from Chandler’s must-read piece, I had concluded by asking:]

How many lives could have been saved if that which has been expended on climate change “research” had been directed towards a clear and present danger to the health and welfare of so many people on the planet? A danger identified as a “global emergency” twenty years ago, and for which there is real evidence, as opposed to policy-driven projections derived from “Mode 2″ computer-generated simulations and scenarios.

In light of the above, I can’t help wondering why it might have taken CBC almost two years to report on this. And to fail to mention that the UN’s WHO (in case you’ve forgotten, a “parent” of the IPCC) had declared this scourge to be a “global emergency” 22 years ago. FWIW, you can listen to Benedict Moran’s 3 minute “treatment” (for want of a better word!) via https://soundcloud.com/twtw-cbc-ca/tuberculosis-by-benedict-moran.

But to be quite honest, I’d skip Moran in favour of this “antidote” from long, long ago:

11 thoughts on “Catching up … a trip down memory lane

  1. I second that – very good to see you posting again!

    An apology is in order, by the way, as I went back and changed the words in my concluding paragraph, so it now reads a little differently to the version quoted above, but the meaning remains exactly the same.

    Another Roger Harrabin quote that made me smile: ” All sorts of extraordinary things, I mean, you take the G7 earlier this week, for instance – said we have to, as a world, decarbonise the electricity sector by 2050. Doesn’t mean taking out all the coal and gas, but most of it. In other words, the end of the carbon era, which has fuelled all our economies – extraordinary. ”

    Not quite so extraordinary, maybe, when you think about the timeline and the fact that some of our G7 leaders are past masters at kicking cans forever down the road…

    • Re “kicking cans forever down the road”, this “vision” is little different from that agreed prior to the Copenhagen conference in 2009 – where no one took much notice. As the G7 declaration says, it “can only be met by a global response”. And it’s not going to get one.

    • Thanks, Maxine and Alex … good to be back in the posting saddle, again:-)

      @Robin Even though this issue (and its mulittude of related subissues – most of which have been drummed and/or dreamed up by the UNEP and/or the EU and/or one of their respective arms, elbows, hands etc) was far, far away from my purview (or concerns) until a few weeks prior to Climategate, I don’t disagree with your assessment.

      Although I do find it somewhat odd (well, considering past advocacy-driven performances and/or general “sound-byte” driven ineptitude … perhaps not so odd!) that MSM stars have failed to report that, in effect, the G7 members have all (very wisely and pragmatically, IMHO) agreed to kick the zero “carbon emissions” daydream way onto the 2100 back-burner.

      One caveat to the above “assessment”, btw, is that – considering his unfortunate but consistent history of turnarounds, turnabouts and sheer lack of honesty and truthfulness in his public pronouncements – one cannot (and probably should not) depend on Obama’s “contributions” to any future discussions.

      As for your “no one took much notice” … my guess is that back in those pre-Climategate days, there were far fewer alarm bells ringing … not to mention far fewer bloggers and/or other voices even monitoring and/or aware of attempts that might have been afoot! But I digress …

      Wrt, the more recent G7 declarations, I found Harper’s responses (in a considerably less than friendly media environment) to be eminently reasonable – and based on a common sense grasp of the issues. See:

      http://www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=2668966600

    • Perhaps instead of “no one took much notice”, I should have said it didn’t make much difference. The pre-Copenhagen G8 agreement in 2009 had no real effect because the developing countries, led by China, were not interested. There was no “global response” then. Nor will there be one now.

  2. All right young lady, you’ve had your time off now get back to blogging. There are a lot of us out here have missed you.

  3. Hillary

    Re ” Seems to me that the (chronologically!) older I get, the faster time flies. ”

    Way back when there was an article in the Journal of Irreproducible Results that “proved” this

  4. Thanks again for your work Hilary, always a good read and thought provoking. The UN is a self perpetuating monster that has achieved nothing of any note. Why on Earth the USA continues to participate in and provide funding for it is beyond me.

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