Remember when meetings to debate and negotiate an international carbon treaty were big news? The Copenhagen Summit was hailed as the largest assembly of world leaders ever to gather for one event; when it fizzled in waves of shame and confusion, the green movement was shocked and dismayed.
There was a lot of happy talk, of course. The world remained committed to the treaty, more progress would be made, targets were agreed, blah blah blah.
Then there was the meeting in Cancun: fewer reporters, fewer first rank politicians, fewer hopes. That meeting too ended in disarray on the core issues, and then, too, desperate greens scrambling to maintain some kind of policy relevance tried to spin the meeting as a victory for the “process”. Nobody was paying much attention; the world’s news organizations sharply cut their budgets for green summitry.
By the time there was another meeting, this time in Durban, South Africa, the global green agenda had slithered even farther down the news ladder. Most people simply didn’t notice that diplomats and greens had gathered to discuss The Fate of The World last December. Once again, there was no real progress to report.
Now the latest meeting in this increasingly anti-climactic series has concluded, this time in Bonn. Yet again, much was said and nothing was done — and yet again even fewer reporters and officials paid attention to this increasingly irrelevant bureaucratic mess.
Those who want to follow the latest stage in the futile march of the global greens can read the BBC dispatch on the global non-summit; the air of despair hanging over the process comes through loud and clear. These are bureaucrats who realize they are becoming so irrelevant that they may soon face the grim possibility of budget cuts: as of now, there are no funds available for the next global green gabfest, tentatively scheduled for Bangkok.
Concern about the climate, we continue to believe at Via Meadia, is not misplaced, but the crazy set of unrealistic objectives, laughable foreign aid boondoggles, Malthusian panic mongering and cockamamie treaty plans made this UN process a clown circus that was doomed to fail — and the sooner, the better. There was a time — as recently as early 2010 — when the Great and the Good, the Champions of the Conventional Wisdom and the Oracles of the Davoisie identified this forlorn negotiation as the wave of the future and the last best hope of man.
Let the futility and failure to which all this led be a reminder to us and to them: those who guide the world’s destiny aren’t nearly as discerning as they think they are. Between the American housing bubble, the European meltdown and the climate disaster, it almost begins to look as if the Establishment consists mostly of overpaid, egotistical blowhards.
At Via Meadia we enjoy the sight of blushing emperors who suddenly realize how nude they are as much as anybody else, but we’d also point out that the world isn’t in a mess just because the Establishment is too stupid and too stubborn to take obvious steps that would set everything right. The world is in a mess because life is complicated, because both our economies and our societies are going through historically unprecedented transformations and because the interlocking political constraints and priorities of the world’s major players make solutions hard to reach — even in those rare cases where they are easy to see.
Cheap cynicism about Establishment stupidity is fun and not completely unjustified — but the real work before us is hard and in the end, sneering is more of a distraction than a solution.