The United Nations may be delivering the most effective attack against sustainability of all. I can only see its three messages below leading people not to change or, if anything, to accelerate business as usual.
Message 1: “CODE RED”
The United Nations created the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). I see two predominant messages from the UN and IPCC. The first is DANGER DANGER DANGER, or in the words of António Guterres, UN Secretary-General:
The evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions are choking our planet & placing billions of people in danger. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.We must act decisively now to avert a climate catastrophe.
The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived. Leaders must lead. No more hesitancy. No more excuses. No more waiting for others to move first. There is simply no more time for that. It is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the very worst of climate change. But only with dramatic, immediate climate action.
The IPCC’s other message is that it’s incredibly bureaucratic and complicated. Try reading its web site. Pages and pages of bureaucratese. I can’t see a clear message from it. I don’t doubt that Guterres didn’t read it but that the messages above were crafted for him.
Message 2: It won’t affect population
I only recently realized how much the UN projections that human population would be smooth with no sign of collapse affected my calmness. I’ve written that I’ve learned that the projections are based on what I consider wrong assumptions: Flawed By Design: UN Population Predictions Are Based on Faulty Models.
An Inconvenient Truth seemed ominous, but United Nations population projections showed the human population leveling off around ten billion people within my lifetime. The projections look so smooth and the source feels so reliable. Why worry about collapse?
Whom could I trust about population more than the UN? Its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned about problems more than anyone, so whatever environmental problems loomed, they must have foreseen humanity resolving or mitigating them.
If all those problems didn’t lead to any change in population, what else could I conclude than that the problem wasn’t population collapsing, as the scientists and environmentalists screeched about? If the question wasn’t population, the problem seemed how to feed everyone and make sure the poor didn’t suffer.
But, as I wrote in Flawed By Design: UN Population Predictions Are Based on Faulty Models:
They were designed to look this way no matter what we do to the Earth. They only depend on past human demographics and nearly ignore the environment. That is, they are based on trends in birth rates, death rates, and migration, with minor adjustments for AIDS, Covid-19, and other small effects.
They’re like driving by looking only in the rear-view mirror.
Our relevant question is not, as the UN projections imply, “how do we feed ten billion?” It’s, “might human population collapse?” By implying we don’t have to worry about collapse, the UN is discouraging acting on sustainability, in my view.
Message 3: What do they do?
The people of the UN don’t change their behavior. They fly around the world. No matter the climate, the diplomats wear suits because they go from air conditioned room to air conditioned room.
Below is the published schedule of the guy declaring code red. What’s his environmental impact? Does he look like he’s taking his own message seriously? You could argue his travel benefits the world more than it hurts, but that’s not obvious. I contend that him choosing to avoid flying could set an example for all other prominent leaders. It’s possible your argument beats mine, but I don’t grant it automatically. Could he not delegate some of these visits? He might be more effective by delegating, empowering, and not polluting so much. In any case, if your argument is right, where is it being made and showed so? I don’t see it.
Official travels of the Secretary-General
- SG/T/3361, Italy, 24 July 2023 to 25 July 2023
- SG/T/3360, Belgium, 13 July 2023 to 14 July 2023
- SG/T/3359, Trinidad and Tobago, 02 July 2023 to 04 July 2023
- SG/T/3358, Haiti, including a stopover in Florida, United States, 01 July 2023
- SG/T/3357, France, 20 June 2023 to 23 June 2023
- SG/T/3356, Japan, 18 May 2023 to 21 May 2023
- SG/T/3355, Jamaica, 14 May 2023 to 15 May 2023
- SG/T/3354, Washington, DC, United States of America, 10 May 2023
- SG/T/3353, Spain, 07 May 2023 to 09 May 2023
- SG/T/3352, Burundi, 05 May 2023 to 06 May 2023
- SG/T/3351, Kenya, 02 May 2023 to 05 May 2023
- SG/T/3350, Qatar, 01 May 2023 to 02 May 2023
- SG/T/3349, Washington, D.C., United States of America, 26 April 2023 to 28 April 2023
- SG/T/3348, Somalia, 11 April 2023 to 12 April 2023
- SG/T/3347, Belgium, 23 March 2023
- SG/T/3346, Ukraine, 06 March 2023 to 09 March 2023
- SG/T/3345, Qatar, 03 March 2023 to 05 March 2023
- SG/T/3344, Iraq, 01 March 2023 to 02 March 2023
- SG/T/3343, Switzerland, 27 February 2023 to 28 February 2023
- SG/T/3342, Ethiopia, 16 February 2023 to 19 February 2023
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