Life is not all beer, skittles and United Nations conventions. For many, it is a valle lacrimarum – a vale of tears. That we are in an extreme lacrimatory episode (ELE) of unprecedented anthropogenic intensity was confirmed recently by new evidence from many countries.
It began unexpectedly in Oregon, USA, in 1952. The breach of a critical lachrymal tipping point pushed humankind into uncharted territory, where – according to The Prince of Wails: “It’s no secret; you’ll feel better if you cry.” The Age of the Stiff Upper Lip was over. Public tears became de rigueur, a mandatory ritual to validate the sincerity of one’s feelings – whatever their origin.
Celebrities – and noble-cause activists – revelled in the new Zeitgeist. But there was a backlash. Many old fogeys refused to use a handkerchief, even when their cricket team lost.
Tribal conflict between Dry Eyes and Tear Jerkers has been going on for centuries. What is new, however, is the scale. About 95 per cent of leading lacrimators agree that never before has there been such a climate of gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle – of mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Lacrymal surveys using sophisticated sensing technology confirm that depression and grief remain the predominant teary triggers (TT) in many cultures.
But anger, fear, frustration and remorse – or indeed any strong and intense emotion – is showing up in the data as never before. Countries serving tears on toast – and those where big girls cry a lot – are especially vulnerable.
A single act of weeping, however, reveals little about causal pathways in an individual ELE. For TTs can arise spontaneously at any time – from an irrational response to settled science, from ego-dissolution during meditation, or even by taking one for Team Climate.
Despite the uncertainty, a trend is emerging. Today’s lachrymal outbreaks appear to correlate with “unusual” weather somewhere in the world; either before, during, or after such events.
While experts baulk at linking any specific ELE directly to climate change; the popular belief remains that dangerous anthropogenic climate change (DACC) is a major contributor to the increasing frequency and intensity of ELEs.
In any case, virtually any emotion can provoke public waterworks if conditions are right. Even an international conference can become a tearful space, as happened last week at COP19, the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Warsaw. Jennifer Morgan, Director of the Climate and Energy Program for US World Resources Institute, was so moved by the lacyrmal contagion, she mentioned “actual tears” had been shed during an ABC RN Breakfast interview.
ABC RN: Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator from The Philippines stood up and made a direct [causal] connection between [dangerous anthropogenic] climate change and Typhoon Haiyan and pleaded with all nations to heed the warning.
Morgan: Yes. It was quite an important and emotional moment. It connected what their negotiators are doing in the building with what is happening around the world – and what is at stake for millions of people.
Mr Sano urged governments be mindful of what was happening in his country during the two-week event in a 17-minute speech that “moved negotiators and observers to tears”. His grief – and frustration – was as authentic as the suffering inflicted on all caught up in the tragedy. “If there was a category six [storm classification], it would be in that box”. For it was “unprecedented, unthinkable and horrific”. The international community “could not afford to procrastinate on climate action”, he added. Anyone still denying “the reality that is climate change [DACC]” should “get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair.”
But it was “too late to rely on Annex I countries to solve the climate crisis.” The world had entered a new era. Global solidarity was needed to “fight climate change”. There had to be an “emergency climate pathway” (ECP). (9.10min.)
Pleading for urgent action, he made this declaration for victims and members of his family.
Sano: “I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food at this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight; until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilisation of resources for the Green Climate Fund; until the promise of a loss-and-damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation, and until we see real ambition on climate action in accordance with the principles we have so long upheld (15.10min.)
There was a perception that UN climate conferences were just an “annual carbon-intensive gathering of useless frequent-flyers”. But COP19 could prove critics wrong and show the world that UNFCCC was indeed a “project to save the planet.”
He re-affirmed support for the agency’s core belief – the UN ideology of “sustainable development” (SD) – “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UN Brundtland Commission, 1987).
With two billion more people expected to be living on the planet by 2050, precisely how SD will be achieved remains a mystery for many; but not Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Minister of Environment and COP19 President:
Korolec: We need to be prepared for nine billion people on this planet, as we all deserve a decent and secure life. By being creative, the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs, promoting economic growth and ensuring better living standards. Where there is a will, there is a way!
There was another surprise too – not widely reported by the MSM – Mr Sano’s support for eco-activists and their skirmishes with fossil fuel companies.
Sano: Mr President, these last two days there have been moments when I feel I should rally behind climate advocates who peacefully confront those historically responsible for the current state of our climate – those selfless people who fight coal [mining, like James Hansen], expose themselves to freezing temperatures [Greenpeace in the Arctic], or block oil pipelines. In fact, we are seeing increasing frustration and thus increased civil disobedience…We stand with them. [13min.]
Warsaw could be the moment when countries started to move the world out of the “climate danger zone”.
Sano: What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw.
China then called for a three-minute silence, in memory of all those who perished in the typhoon.
Mr Sano’s controversial claim that such events can be attributed directly to “climate change” [DACC] soon came under scrutiny.
Today in the morning, I was stunned by the dishonesty of the professional climate alarmists again. It seems completely obvious to me that they must know that they are lying 24 hours a day. ( Lubos Motl Pilsen, physicist)
Of what use is climate research when COP negotiators promote the fiction that every atmospheric disturbance on the planet has only one cause – the developed world?
A UN World Meteorological Organisation report, released at COP19, concluded tropical cyclone activity for the year was slightly below the 1981-2010 average of 89 storms. WMO experts had “low confidence” that it would increase over the next few decades. But it was “more likely than not” that such a signal would be seen “by the end of the century”, a mere 87 years in the future.
See also Blood, sweat and tears in Cancun; Apocalypse fatigue in Hopenhagen; and The Aztec solution to climate change
The jury, then, is still out on whether Haiyan was due to climate change [DACC] – or divine intervention – what were once called acts of God, but that did not stop Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC’s executive secretary, describing the typhoon as a “sobering reality” in her opening address. (Ms Figueres caused a stir last month by suggesting bushfires in eastern Australia were linked to AGW.)
Dedicated climate conference watchers might remember another tearful moment — at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico. Who could forget the scene at the Yucatan Peninsula Moon Palace Hotel, where 15,000+ delegates danced to the 2010 Climate Change Conference theme song – “Let’s put the CAN in Cancún!”
Ms Figueres used her opening statement at that gathering to urge attendees to embrace the wisdom of Ixchel, an ancient Mayan jaguar (and weather) goddess. Ixchel was a moon goddess, explained Ms Figueres, “the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you — because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change using both reason and creativity.”
The audience fortunately was spared details of the goddess’s darker – and bloodier – side. Could a formidable old woman with a writhing serpent headdress and crossed bones embroidered on her skirt ever be reasonable?
At COP-16, Ixchel’s sacrificial victims were not laid on a stone slab. They were taken into a room and subject to lachrymal eco-rhetoric about saving the planet. (Christiana Figueres meets the negotiation trackers at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico).
Ms Figueres was right about one thing – but not the NSW bushfires. Cancun was indeed an “insufficient” but a “necessary step” to COP-17.
There were plenty of tears in Hopenhagen at COP15 too. Remember the Please help the world opening film? An anxious young girl – clutching a white (polar) teddy bear – goes on a nightmarish journey through a world of environmental catastrophe, including a (apparently climate-induced) mini-earthquake.
Background voices warned of “hundreds of millions of climate refugees”. They chastised the heretics who “still doubt the human influence on this predicted catastrophe.” The 4 minute requiem ended with what psycho-analysts would describe as an infantile fantasy: “We have the power to save the world. Now.”
The most tearful UNFCCC event, however, could well be COP19. For delegates here accept all the frantic “wake-up calls’; continue to believe Tuvalu, The Maldives, Kiribati, Vanuatu, etc, will have to evacuate “their entire populations because of salt water intrusion and sea level rise”, and so on.
They accept the utopian (or dystopian) notion that humankind can manipulate the Earth’s elusive thermostat mechanistically merely by reducing anthropogenic GHG emissions – thereby producing a global climate that would suit each of them.
Yet the developing world will fail to “seek redress for climate damages from sea level rise, droughts, powerful storms and other adverse impacts” from the developed world. Dodgy “blame-and-liability” arguments – allegedly supported by some attribution studies – will not work in Warsaw.
For outside the UNFCCC, there is a counter-perspective. Ever since it codified dubious notions of “dangerous” climate change, “climate debt” and “precautionary” action in 1992, we have been moving slowly – but inevitably – towards today’s highly politicised end-game.
After almost two decades, UNFCCC’s primary objective remains to prevent ‘dangerous’ human interference with the Earth’s climate. Under Article 3.1 of its Principles, member countries agreed to “protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”
UNFCCC assumes collective global action can stabilise GHG levels at about either 550 parts per million or 450ppm by about 2100 and meet the COP-15 objective of limiting global warming to below 2C above preindustrial levels. Yet this is not based on any established law of Nature that quantifies the precise relationship between human-generated GHC levels and global surface temperature. There is no such law.
Uncertainty, however, has never bothered either the UNFCCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. When in doubt, use the (pseudo-scientific) precautionary principle to justify a preferred course of action.
Article 3.3: “The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures.”
The IPCC, established in 1988 by the UN Environment Programme and WMO, continues to provide the UNFCCC climate juggernaut with a deepening alarmist narrative, as it has done for over two decades.
Quantitative statements about “certainty” – which have no statistical basis – remain a favourite, with the IPCC’s subjective Doomsday Clock moving from 90 per cent (“very likely”) to 95 per cent (“extremely likely”) during the past six years.
When the history of this saga is written, it will show how keenly potential beneficiaries of “climate reparations” – the developing world and other eco-players – embraced alarmism.
It will show too how a pernicious feedback loop developed between politics, science, and science funding, culminating in fanciful claims about “limiting climate change”; exaggerated the role of anthropogenic GHGs as the primary CC driver, compromised agency impartiality and so on.
“How much longer can the fear of DACC be sustained by ramping up public anxiety about UNFCCC’s version of Hell – a grim world of unpredictable and uncontrollable extreme weather events and climate change; inevitable without global decarbonisation?
Expect more lachrymal moments in Warsaw, and beyond. For an ominous mood is developing like a summer storm: declining support for the climate scare in the developed world.”
Michael Kile, November 2013
Disclosure: The author does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. He has no relevant affiliations, except as author of The Devil’s Dictionary of Climate Change