Does anyone know what COP25 stands for? Probably very few. Its unimportant. As unimportant as the whole roadshow itself. Just for the hell of it, for those who read this article, COP means Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The 25 stands for the 25th year that such annual conferences have taken place – every year in another country – what a tourist bonanza for the hundreds, if not thousands of attendees and participants who travel – by air – many of them business class, to these most questionable, even useless conferences.
The first of the COP summits took place in Berlin, Germany, in March 1995. The COP’s Presidency rotates among the 5 UN recognized regions and so do the conferences – to make “eco-tourism” most of the time for the same UN and government bureaucrats and jokers more attractive. I can’t help thinking of the enormous cost of these conferences – travel, food, lodging and everything in between – for two weeks – in the case of COP25 Madrid (2-16 December 2019), two days more than planned, because after the scheduled two weeks no agreements were reached, so it was decided to add two days. Add to this all the preparatory meetings and related travels – tens of millions of dollars, possibly more, are spent for nothing, absolutely zilch, nada. That’s the officially recognized outcome at the end of the extended COP25 in Madrid – nothing.
There are UN staff, directors mostly, at the UN in Geneva and in New York, who earn huge salaries in the hundreds of thousands a year, for doing what? Some of them are directing their staff to preparing the extravagant but mostly useless COPs – and of course, they are also attending them. When I see monetary figures like this, and we are now talking of only one kind of UN conferences, it occurs to me that this is money stolen from the poor. It is taken from the very people whom the UN is committed by its Charter to help. – How many simple drinking water supply and sanitation systems could you build with all this money? How many millions of people could you serve with the money wasted for such conferences with safe drinking water and safe sanitation?
According to the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP), some 2.1 billion people have no safe drinking water at home and more than twice this number lacks safe sanitation. At the same time, these agencies also monitor the death toll among less than 5-year-old children from unsafe water and sanitation, from the lack of hygiene, from diarrheal diseases – nearly 400,000 die per year. In addition, contaminated water and poor sanitation also contribute to the transmission of cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid. This does not even take into account those who die due to a famine-reduced immune system.
Precious money deviated from the UN system by men-invented rather unproductive, but usually lush conferences – of which the COPs are just one category – could save millions of lives.
This is a real environmental issue, in fact more vital than just environment, it is environmental health. It is certainly competing in importance with the man-made CO2 issue. Climate change is happening, no doubt, it always did for the 4.5 billion years of Mother Earth’s existence. But the way the west is dealing with it is a sheer farce; no, it’s actually worse, much worse, it’s criminal, because it’s knowingly made into a commercial globalized profit-making enterprise. Knowingly, because the elite that pulls the strings behind these events – the same who finance Greta Thunberg – are well aware of what they are doing and why they are doing what they are doing. It helps none, but global corporate finance. Those who suffer most are the people living in the Global South which is, as with most natural disasters, most affected by naturally occurring climate change.
It’s still worse, because the western propaganda message promises actions towards saving the world from climate change which are entirely deceptive. So, the poor are again being lied to. They are being lured into making huge investments with huge loans – the World Bank, IMF and bilateral lending institutions, let alone Wall Street, stand ready – loans and interest which the borrowing countries have to repay. If they can’t, they have to give their collateral, meaning, let the west privatize their public services and assets, and grab their natural resources for a pittance. That’s how it works – the west preventing climate change from happening.
Not to mention the enormous arrogance with which the eminent COP attendees pretend humans can control Mother Earth’s temperature fluctuations, i.e. to less than 2 degree C. Or arguing, whether “we” (almighty humans) should agree on limiting a temperature rise in the next 30 or 50 or 100 years to 2 or 3 degrees C, exceeds any reasonable level of human absurdity and conceit. Our assumed power over nature is at best ridiculous.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. IPCC has 195 members and some 2000 scientists who contribute to IPCC’s work. Any serious scientist knows that the main cause for climate change are variations of solar activities, but they sell us CO2 as chief villain, knowing well, that the world, especially the western world, functioning under a turbo-neoliberal corporate and finance driven capitalist system, based on ‘eternal’ consumption and eternal growth – which drives the ever-growing profit margins – will not change its behavior vis-à-vis nature, unless it collapses under its own weight. Not with a million COPs it will change its profit-making thinking and business motives. – These mostly famous scientists know it. If they don’t follow the line, they risk losing their reputation and, who knows, their jobs?
Ice core records studied by scientists, combined with many types of proxy records to reconstruct past atmospheres and environmental conditions, back from thousands to many millions of years, suggest that climate changes in large cycles, and within them, in smaller cycles. For example, it appears that between 2.6 and 5.3 million years ago, during the Pliocene Epoch, CO2 levels were comparable to those of today. Models suggest global temperatures were 3 to 4 degrees C warmer than pre-industrial levels.
Similar patterns were repeated 400,000 to 600,000 years ago. What is important to notice though, is that temperatures rise first, followed by CO2 levels which is logical, since the sun is hearting the earth. It is the complete opposite to what today’s climate gurus are telling us. In the second half of the 1900s, NASA studied during some 30 years temperature fluctuations in the Pacific Ocean, investigating causes and effects of El Niño. The result was similar; the higher the water temperature of the Pacific, the more CO2 was released by the sea into the atmosphere. High CO2 levels are eventually followed by lower temperatures.
The world still runs mainly on unrenewable energy, mostly hydrocarbons, oil, gas and even coal – the chief producers of CO2. Of course, we should stop using hydrocarbons and convert our economic systems to renewable energies. Hydrocarbons with their carbon dioxide output pollute the air, soil, surface and underground water ways. They contaminate even our food. Their secondary and tertiary products, plastic bottles and plastic-related packing materials, most of which are not biodegradable and contaminate our oceans, our landscapes, and kill wildlife.
But who convinces the highly profitable petrol titans, packaging giants – not to mention the pharma industry which also thrives on petrochemicals – to turn the wheel back to the 1950’s and 1960s, when we went to the corner stores to buy our staple food, like rice, sugar, flour, potatoes in bulk, put it in used and reusable paper bags. We were not unhappier than we are today. To the contrary. Cancer rates were considerably lower. In 1960, CO2 levels in the atmosphere stood on average at 316 ppm. We had no cell phones. Time moved slower. And – importantly – in the fifties and sixties we lived even in the west in a world more or less in balance; we used less than the total of the resources Mother Earth generously provides for us.
In the mid-sixties, during the post-WWII economic boom, we started rapidly exceeding the world’s resources balance. Today, the west, or Global North, uses some 4 times as many resources as Mother Earth can provide. In Africa and some parts of Asia that ratio is between 0.5 and 0.6. – But no worries, there comes a point when Mother Earth will self-regenerate, that means with a break from us, destructive humans. Looking at geo-history – that has most likely happened already a few times: Civilizations disappeared – often “suicide by greed” – and once Mother Earth has recovered, she may give mankind another chance. She has a lot of patience.
In 2009, at the time of the (in)famous Copenhagen Climate Conference, the average level of CO2 in the air was 386 ppm (parts per million). The goal was to reduce the level to 350 ten years later. The Copenhagen Climate Conference coined the “350-sologan”. In November 2019, the carbon dioxide level has exceeded 410 ppm – and rising. It is an illusion to believe that Big Business, Big Industry, Big Finance – and Big Growth-driven Profit – will yield to environmental or climate concerns.
And again, those who call the shots know it, but they keep fooling the world, making the purposefully brainwashed and poorly informed populace believe that special taxes, for example on flying, or other taxes on hydrocarbon-based energy, will make a difference; or that “carbon credits” will improve the environment. This is of course nonsense. And the taxes eventually end up in the pockets of the usual villain, the globalized private banking system, instead of being dedicated to intense research into alternative energies. Such efforts happen only in China and Russia.
In the west, intense research into solar energy, the ultimate renewable energy, is not allowed to happen. The big energy lobbies, hydrocarbon, nuclear, and even hydropower, will block any such attempt. Can you imagine, the sun provides the earth with more than 10,000 times as much energy per day than what we use in the entire world in the same period.
Carbon credits are the most ludicrous deceitful banking invention of the last 50 years. How do they work? – A huge corporation in the Global North, instead of making the necessary investments to reduce their CO2 output, they buy “carbon credits” from a country in the Global South, where the pollution level is below a certain limit, so the northern corporation may continue postponing the CO2-reducing investments, and the country in the global south should theoretically invest the money they got from the “carbon credit” sale into alternative energy or otherwise environmentally friendly projects. It hardly ever happens. Many of these countries lack the projects and / or the absorptive capacity for the required investments. And even when it does happen, the carbon dioxide pollution of the monster corporation in the north continues. What a farce!
Maybe one day, in the not too distant future, the breakthrough will happen. It must, if we, mankind, want to survive and not collapse as civilization under the weight of our own wasteful, growth-based luxury lifestyle. We suddenly see the light – the sunlight – and use it, instead of CO2 generating hydrocarbon – and we free ourselves from this horrendous petro-corporate dependency. Our arrogant climate control attitude, temperature-rise fixing and human-manipulating by centigrade – gone – out of the window. Our linear 30, 50- and 100-year projections gone. Finito. What a feeling! – A feeling of real freedom. A full change-over of lifestyle. This moment may come faster than we think. The Chinese, always bashed by the west, have been concentrating at least the last decade much of their research on efficient and sustainable renewable energy – sun energy is in their focus. The East is the future. The East is where the sun rises.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. After working for over 30 years with the World Bank he penned Implosion, an economic thriller, based on his first-hand experience. Exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”