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June 19th 2013 print

Tony Thomas

UNexpectedly, climate change is a global yawn

No amount of deft tweaking and manipulative definitions can hide the simple fact that the world body's very own poll demonstrates that global warming is, globally speaking, a huge non-issue


What fun! I have just voted in a global poll being conducted by the United Nations to discover what the people of the world care most about. I was global voter Number 623,813 and the 9246th voter from Australia.


As the UN puts it modestly, "Now citizens from around the world have an exciting opportunity, as never before, to be part of the new goals to end poverty and create a sustainable environment from the earliest stages of the process."

The results of the poll to date are that worldwide, we people of the world view the fight against climate change as the least important of 16 issues suggested by the UN. Top-voted issue for importance worldwide is "better job opportunities", second is "a good education", and the lower-ranked issues are "better health care", "affordable and nutritious food", "support for people who can’t work", and so on.

Whichever way you slice and dice the results, the climate-change fight is more or less bottom-ranked globally out of the 16 causes. Male voters: bottom. Female voters: bottom. Aged 34-or-under, bottom. Aged 35-54, second-bottom. Over 55, second bottom.

In other categories, still not much enthusiasm. Voters living in a less-developed country, bottom. In a medium-developed country, second-bottom. In a highly developed country, and here’s a change: tenth-ranked. In a very highly-developed country, eighth-ranked.

Make your voice heard! Vote in the UN poll by clicking here

The 9246 Australian voters (despite myself and some fellow cynics) were among the outliers, ranking the climate-change fight at Number 5, behind "protecting forests, oceans and rivers", "good education", "affordable and nutritious food", and "phone and internet access" (as they say, ‘First World problems’). Congrats to Will Steffen, Tim Flannery and David Karoly for keeping the climate flag flying here, if only a bit above half mast.

To sum up, the UN’s planet-saving crusade for the past 30 years, on which taxpayers’ countless billions have already been sprayed against the wall, has gained no traction, even when measured by the UN’s own polling.

The Australian results to date have interest in that "honest and responsible government" ranks sixth priority — as if we haven’t been a textbook democracy for more than a century, what on earth are people carrying on about [sarcasm]?

Our results don’t vary much by sex or age, except that, as you would expect, youngsters put ‘good education’ tops. The results are also probably biased towards those who enjoy internet polls and are rivetted by UN conferencing, so middle-aged garage mechanics from Rooty Hill and  young hairdressers from Pascoe Vale are probably under-represented.

Of course, this being a UN exercise, there are curiosities, shonky stuff, covert manipulations and general tawdriness embedded in the fine print, involving everyone from the top (Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general) down. The anomalies (which don’t affect the results I’ve cited) have already been ventilated by bloggers Hilary Ostrov and the inestimable Donna Laframboise. (Donna was the gal who first discovered a third of the citations in the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were not blue-chip sciency stuff but non-peer-reviewed documents, ranging down to World Wildlife Fund press releases).

The background to the UN poll: Anyone in the world is invited to choose six issues out of 16 offered by the UN Development Program (UNDP) as most important to them and their families in a post-2015 world.

The first UN fudge is that although the issues offered seem straightforward, when you drill down, the UN has twisted the definitions. For example,

  • If you vote for "Reliable energy at home", the UN deems that you have also supported an underlying notion that "More of that energy should be sustainably generated" ("Sustainably" was not defined).
  • If you vote for "Action on climate change", the sub-text is that you want governments to mandate cuts in carbon dioxide emission that will (magically) keep global warming below 2 degrees.
  • If you vote for protecting "forests, rivers and oceans", the UN considers you are implicitly also voting for a "move to sustainable agriculture" and you want the UN to generate global agreements to "protect biodiversity and fragile ecosystems".

As Laframboise puts it, "It never occurs to these people that I might cherish pristine wilderness and yet regard the UN as a bloated, unaccountable organization whose mandate needs to shrink rather than expand."

The UN’s next fudge defies explanation. The poll was trumpeted by Ban Ki-Moon last March after it had been running three months, and he viewed it as input to the "High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda". This group is to set out new goals for progress once the Millenium Development Goals of the UN hit their use-by date of 2015.

Who comprises this impressive-sounding 27-member "High Level Panel of Eminent Persons"? Well, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was one of three co-chairs, along with the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia. The rest are beautifully balanced among men (13) and women (14) and those from developed and developing countries, the latter including Cuba, Yemen, Benin, and wherever, with plenty of New York trips and similar perks thrown in. Sadly, Australia’s Eminent Persons, such as Quentin Bryce or Tim Costello, failed to get a spot.

Somehow Ban Ki-Moon and his team inputted the first months’ ‘results’ of the poll into the workings of the "The Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda" and this report was published last May. Yet the methodology section of the poll says voting on the poll continues until at least December 31, 2014:

"From now until 2015, we want as many people in as many countries as possible to be involved: citizens of all ages, genders and backgrounds, particularly the world’s poor and marginalized communities."

Not to worry, later results of the poll will continue to be inputted to the UN’s verb-fests on an on-going basis.

UNDP apparatchik Olav Kjorven said, “There’s been something really important missing in the way we at the United Nations and at the global level have been deliberating and deciding on issues over the last decade, and that something has been you — people all over the world.” He added that the era of making decisions about global issues behind closed doors with little citizen involvement was coming to an end. As Ostrov remarked, that would be news to the warmist in-group currently closeted over the drafting of their 5th IPCC report.

Your voting can be on-line, by mobile phone, or offline. UN-organised teams, including boy scouts, "Global Young Greens", "World Student Christian Federation" activists and all that, have ventured into trackless villages by bike or on foot, waving ballot papers at people cooking their porridge with smouldering cow dung.

Tony Thomas has a gas-fuelled Weber Baby Q, but his successes equate with those cooking with cow dung