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Paris climate talks are symbolic, overblown, and a completely worthless PR campaign

There is much ado about nothing happening in Paris right now. It’s the largest gathering of world leaders ever assembled with the intention of saving the planet from the environmental evils of humanity. It represents hope, action, and unification of a divided world for a singular cause. The problem is that the attention it’s getting is exponentially more profound than the effects it will have on the planet.

This is something I’ve been wanting to point out for a long time ever since reading what some of the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDC) were saying. You see, the INDCs are dictated by the countries that they represent and are designed to prove their efforts rather than to guide them. In other words, countries get to say what they’re going to change and why those changes will be good. It’s a sales pitch. It’s an environmental beauty pageant with the judges being the fawning media rather than actual climate scientists or government watchdogs.

It’s completely meaningless other than its symbolic value.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need for symbolism when facing this type of situation, but the unfortunate thing for the world is that the symbolism being invoked is specific to the politician. It’s part of the legacy of many, including US President Barack Obama, to come away from Paris with an agreement of some sort. The funny part is that there is absolutely no oversight or scientific interpretation involved. This isn’t a group of world leaders agreeing on what needs to be done. It’s a group of world leaders pitching to the best of their abilities why their proposed actions will help the world.

On the surface, it’s supposed to appear to be progress. In reality, it’s something that’s based upon an arbitrary “rushed” timeline that fell into a political calendar rather than one based upon reaching a truly beneficial accord. That would take much longer, of course, and would require those pesky scientists to get involved. Since they don’t have the political savvy to be able to navigate these waters, they were replaced by politicians giving speeches and promoting the benefits of their promises.

As I mentioned, I wanted to write about this for some time but waited to see if a bigger publication would point it out, first. The one that finally did today was not the one I expected. Left-leaning Politico came through with a surprisingly accurate piece about the climate talks.

It’s important to note something from a political perspective. I’m not writing this because I am a tree-hugging progressive. I don’t necessarily believe in climate change from the purely political perspective that it’s melting the icecaps or killing the owls. I see the reduction of pollution and the improvement of our energy infrastructure as necessities that will empower the developed world and assist the developing world. Clean water is a verifiable and tangible need. Cleaning the air we breath is beneficial (I live in Los Angeles so I have a horse in this race). Whether climate change is real or imagined isn’t really important. A cleaner world is desirable whether you believe in climate fears or not.

The irony of all of this is in how the narrative is being painted. A New York Times article calls the event a step in the right direction but warn that it has to be profound or all is lost.

New scientific reports show that the destructive effects of climate change have already begun to sweep the planet, with the global economy firmly on track to produce a level of emissions that would lock in a future of rising sea levels, intense droughts and food shortages, more destructive storms and floods, and other catastrophic impacts.

If the Paris talks collapse or end in failure, it may be many years before world leaders will again try to negotiate a similar deal.

As with nearly all political “news” stories in the NY Times, they waste no time in blaming Republicans for the damage and obstruction in getting a deal done.

This entire event is designed to be the equivalent of a public relations event. It’s not going to change things. It’s not going to move the needle. It’s going to be a symbolic gesture that accomplishes nothing tangible. Nothing.

A deal will get done and it will be ballyhooed as one of the crowning achievements in world progress. Meanwhile, people are being slaughtered by the Islamic State while world leaders fervently attempt to reduce projected temperatures by 0.2 degrees Celsius at the end of the century.

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