Some Thoughts About COP-26

Whether you love, hate, or don't care about Greta, one must admit that she really gets it right in this video. Like most people, she has grown in her knowledge and now no longer sees technological devices as a way out of the predicament of ecological overshoot. Of course, the COP meetings were never really about reducing ecological overshoot; they were truly pretty much about politics and BAU (Business As Usual) just like she says. It is Greta's passion that is so awesome. 

Perhaps it is because she likes to point out illogical thinking and fairy tale stories, the greenwashing of industry to cash in on the public's general ignorance, and the politicians who have been bought by the corporate overlords that attracts me to her style. Her truth to power is inspiration to those of us who have been watching these meetings unfold throughout the years, initially hoping some real progress might be made while witnessing the lack of any real action, even when agreements ARE actually made. Alas, it reminds me all too well of my younger self who thought that surely once James Hansen reported his findings to the US Congress that America would lead the charge in dealing effectively with climate change. I was in my early 20s at the time, a time of idealism and optimism - you know the story of how we are all going to "change the world" at that point. Even today I can occasionally get na├»ve about human behavior. So, one can see clearly now the same disappointment I experienced back then with this latest fiasco, what many are now calling COPout26. As I pointed out above, the COP meetings really aren't about tackling the root predicament, they are about providing the public with the illusion that something is being done and they provide delay tactics such as "net zero" and distraction tactics such as "green" energy and "green" technology.

A friend, Arthur Noll, quite accurately pointed this out, quote: 

"To talk about overshoot means talking about how there are far more people than the most generous estimates of carrying capacity regardless of lifestyle, and most are fixated on keeping or having high energy lifestyles, often ignorant of what is involved in doing what they want with regard to this. Solar and wind powered versions of fossil fuel powered lifestyles are complete fantasies, but denial and faith in innovation to solve technical problems are still common.

People like Greta...are making demands of governments that are basically impossible for them to carry out, but they are either ignorant of this [fact] or in denial of it. 

Countries fought big wars about who was going to get the resources to have big industry on the way into this massive overshoot; they are extremely unlikely to agree on degrowth plans.

Even in small groups of people more aware of the issues, I have not found anyone willing to talk seriously about basic issues that got us here and need to be addressed to get out. People are absolutely opposed to making the needed changes in their lives. They have often spent many years getting what they have and won't seriously consider giving it up. If such more aware people won't do this, then to talk about anyone else doing it is just noise.

Then Arthur also mentioned this to clarify his position:

"Yes, though of course, what I've said above doesn't stand on its own very well, it should include my reasons for having serious reservations about counting on innovation, that counting on innovation is assuming that ways exist to do things before they have been found; which is blind faith, is not a science-based, evidence-based belief. Plus, it would be good to tie into this the issue of monetary measure failing to deal with "externalities", and the alternative measures of value with food EROEI [Energy Return On Energy Invested] and using resources with the best estimates possible about how sustainable the use is. And that social groups agreeing to do this are needed, as individuals can't do it on their own. It starts to stand on its own with those things included, as long as people respect science. If they don't respect science, well, they can believe all kinds of different things when solid, repeatable evidence isn't required, and my view on that is that we will all find out what works and what doesn't; and yes, maybe nothing will work, but I think science-based belief and behavior gives the best odds, and would rather try it than continuing with fantasies as is presently being done on all sides."

Watching this unfold now the way it is doesn't really surprise me anymore, partially due to my much-older perspective along with far less ignorance on the entire set of circumstances leading into the scenario. My experiences with past COP meetings help to temper any unfounded optimism along with the simple fact that these are the powerbrokers and politicians beholden to them, that the scientists want their funding not to be cut off, and that mostly this is nothing short of huge trade show for technological devices and the profits to be made selling "green" "clean" and "renewable" products to the general public and governments. I've been criticized for my cynical and "negative" viewpoints in the past, and yet, can anyone say anything different about these meetings? The Paris Agreement seemed like a turning point at the time; as if something was going to change. But in reality, emissions haven't been reduced through any of it. The only thing which has actually reduced emissions recently has been the pandemic, which had nothing to do with the Paris Agreement.

Steve Bull had this to say, quote: 

"COP-26. Be aware...

These elite confabs are not about climate, except to leverage the fear factor over it to meet the primary concern of the ruling class: control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams. It's additionally a marketing expo for 'green' energy products; a mechanism for helping to steer the mainstream narratives; and a justification for further enrichment of the elite via massive expansion of fake fiat currency.

It is not about saving the planet.

A very accurate assessment indeed. In fact, a recent article in The Guardian makes it quite clear that most people are simply unwilling to change their lifestyles and most do not truly comprehend that lifestyles ARE going to change, whether they like it or not. It should be stated clearly that we can change our lifestyles voluntarily or nature will change them for us and wipe billions of us out in the process. This is harsh but true - nature does not negotiate. So far we have been successful at reducing or stopping negative feedback loops through the use of technology and fossil fuel energy. But those days are quickly coming to an end, so the wise will reduce their energetical and resource throughput NOW rather than wait for some technological miracle which most likely will never come. 

Still, the COP meetings have brought some assessments from my friends which are razor-sharp in their focus and accuracy. Here's one from Rudy Sovinee that is spot on, quote:

"The questions scientists answer are the physics, chemistry and biology questions of what is possible. IPCC & COP "says" adaptation is possible. At odds to that are the desires of populations have needs and desires (often erroneously combining the two) as is being stated to be "middle class." ... And the honest/honorable politicians strive to prioritize the needs to fit within the possible. [This is] mathematically impossible!! That predicament is complicated today by the number of dishonorable politicians gaining ascendancy by either causing divisions or by promising far more than can be done - even as mines, soils, forests, fisheries, etc. become depleted AND further complicated by there being too many people expecting too much. All this while the EROEI is falling as the easy to access materials were already used. Human society has grown too big precisely because it has extracted so much. It cannot survive the energy dieting that is needed, not without the high risk of shutting down. The super-organism of our global society does NOT want to commit suicide.

...a super organism that exists by extracting, processing and then excreting will not cease willingly. Those within its systems that undermine its material flows will be removed from positions where they can exercise such. That is true for politicians once their people experience cutbacks, or corporate management once their shareholders notice undue drops in dividends.

I have no argument that collapse is ahead, I simply try to phrase my statements so as to get those who have not yet reached [this realization] the needed concepts. It explains aspects the machinations of these mass conferences by people still clinging to hope. It allows a venting of frustration by people recognizing the trap, while delaying the level of violence that such frustration will eventually cause. For the elite of today's society, allowing such venting gives them more time to play astronaut, or at least to keep their guards and servants housed and fed.

There is a video of a meeting of several experts making assessments on how to adapt at the meetings of which Kevin Anderson was one notable expert. The video provided some accurate perspectives but also threw in a considerable amount of hopium. I expect much of this to continue at future meetings, although I do think that next year's conference will feature a different tone. By then, it will be more apparent to a larger sector of society as to where we're headed.

Normally I like to attach scientific articles and media to prove my points, but I think the proof regarding the COP meetings is already widely available - has anyone noticed the concentration of CO2 or other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere being reduced? How about natural emissions? Are any of those going down? Needless to say, I think that this particular post highlights less science and more in terms of what OTHER people are thinking. 

This is what Art Berman has to say about it:

That may be a bit much for most folks, but he is telling the truth about the reality of the situation. These stalling tactics only make the Seneca Cliff that much steeper the longer we kick the can down the road. We have run out of ways to continue throwing more negative feedbacks into the system, and now that not only is the energy cost of energy tearing into net surplus energy, but we also now have the exponential decline of energy due to reaching the peak level of extraction. Demand continues rising but the product to meet that demand is not. Here's another great one from Art:

Life is going to become much more interesting, although interesting may not necessarily be the correct word to describe it. As this video shows, people will begin burning whatever is cheapest or whatever they don't need or have the most of in order to stay warm and cook food. 

As if that isn't dark enough, there is always this tweet from Christopher Cartwright (there are lots of other factoids on his feed if you're into depressing news). Of course, I have written several times about the growing methane issues (most recently here in this article), so readers here probably won't be all that surprised. 

I could go on and on about the COP meetings, but suffice it to say that Greta pretty much got it right with the "...Blah, blah, blah..." and maybe this will have a reinforcing of attitudes towards a more sustainable future. Then again, I'm not going to hold my breath.


  1. Great summary Erik.........

    With more and many more of us getting these meetings as charades, while emissions increase relentlessly, and with the "green energies" as nothing more than unicorn chimeras, the conversations around the dinner tables this next year may begin to get more honest, as the Realities bite..........................


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