With Scientists Predicting the World’s End (Again), the UN Rattles Its Cup

This article appeared on Forbes.com on June 8, 2012.

Notice all the horrendous news about our environment? That's a sure sign that the UN is about to throw another mega-gabfest where global leaders will shake their heads and shake down the U.S. for monies that Congress will wisely refuse to fork over.

Two weekends from now, the UN is holding its "Rio+20 Earth Summit," the largest meeting in the history of an organization that pretty much does nothing but stage meetings. The 1992 Rio Summit produced the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was the basis for the completely failed Kyoto Protocol on global warming. It also spawned Agenda 21, a document which outlined in great detail its plans to punish and pillage producer nations and transmit their wealth to the world's great kleptocracies.

Rio 1992 was also the basis for 19 annual "Conferences of the Parties" to the Framework Convention, all of which succeeded in doing exactly nothing measurable about climate change. The most famous of these, after Kyoto in 1997, was in Copenhagen in December, 2009.

President Obama flew there, fresh with an "Endangerment Finding" from carbon dioxide hot off of his EPA's presses. Because it was obvious that the Senate wouldn't touch cap-and-trade, he needed something credible in order to goad the world into a new treaty to replace the dead Kyoto agreement. Despite being treated pretty roughly by Brazil, South Africa, China and India, he declared victory — with no specifics — as the meeting drew to a close. Obama couldn't answer many questions, though, as he had to hightail it back to Washington to beat the first of that winter's three blizzards. He didn't, and the image of Air Force One landing in a blinding snowstorm will forever be the icon of the Copenhagen fiasco.

The great "success" of Copenhagen was an agreement that all the participants would submit plans detailing how they would reduce their dreaded greenhouse gas emissions in six weeks. Two weeks before that deadline, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the Framework Convention, announced that, never mind, we didn't mean it, we don't need your silly plans, and then he resigned.

Rio+20 is intended to go beyond all this. Failure is not an option, it is guaranteed.

While the agenda has yet to be finalized at this late date, it's more of the same hand-wringing gloom and doom followed by more of the same outstretched hands. Not surprisingly, the same fault lines that have continually plagued the UN's are emerging. Poor nations want our money. Europe agrees with this but they're fresh out. Our Congress wants to be re-elected and won't cooperate. India and China plead for special treatment.

But the list is longer than ever. In addition to climate change, we now have to remediate biodiversity loss, poverty, acid oceans (no such thing), poverty, "unsustainable consumption" (honest!), poverty, the right to food, poverty, and the "right to an adequate standard of living." If much of this sounds like the wish list of your indolent teenager, that's about right.

My academic pals are doing their level best to flog for the UN. Just this week, and, according to the Christian Science Monitor, "timed for the Rio meeting," Nature published a remarkable screed by a team of twenty scientists forecasting the end of the world as we know it (literally) caused largely by increasing human population.

(Hint: a policy-driven piece authored by more than ten people, accompanied by a breathless press release, and published before a UN summit is known as a "petition.")

If this sounds anything like the Club of Rome's sophomoric 1972 "Limits to Growth," it is. That forecast of the end of the world as we knew it by 2000 obviously failed, using the advanced methodology of the day (harmonic analysis and multiple regressions). The new paper by Anthony Barnosky uses a "fold bifurcation with hysteresis." That's impressive to all the UN delegates, most of whom avoided math and science in order to boss around mathematicians and scientists.

Actually, it really means a lagged discontinuous function, something you can find in honors Algebra II.

The 1972 and 2012 ends-of-the-world are simply the same shtick with the same tactics and objectives, namely abuse of authority to give authority to a global bureaucracy. Between then and now there have been literally dozens of such silly screeds. They obviously didn't or won't work, just like the 1992 Earth Summit and Rio+20.

If these people were serious about greenhouse gases and hot air, they would meet online. But they are not, not after 20 consecutive failures.