Friday, May 6, 2016

Our Climate Emperors

Hans Christian Andersen wrote the tale of two weavers who promised an emperor a new suit of clothes that was invisible to those who were unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor paraded before his subjects, no one dared to say that they could not see his new suit until a child shouted "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"
The climate emperors gathered in Paris last year, convinced they were going to given a suit of armour that would enable them to lead the fight to save the world from carbon dragons. They left, cheering the fact that the dragons would not be allowed to heat the world by more than 1.5oC. Their arms? Nothing more than pieces of paper on which were written “intended nationally determined contributions”, INDC’s.
Even before the climate emperors’ return flights had landed, their subjects had found weaknesses in the suits.  There were gaps with some areas, where countries were doubtful about the strength of the INDC’s.  After all, they were only intended – and good intentions are a well-known road to hell. Worse, the INDC’s might have been incomplete, and the suits full of holes, but there were too many dragons to avoid the purported 1.5oC attack.  The weavers urged the climate emperors to be brave and even more ambitious.
  And duly they were.  They flew to New York to sign other bits of paper, in which they swore to believe in their own INDC’s. They would do their best to convince their subjects that the bits of paper were real armament against the forces of nature.  

It mattered not that earlier suits of armour, given out at Kyoto in Japan, had proved useless. The CO2 dragon had flourished even though most of the developed nations had done their bit. The Chinese dragon in particular had made a mockery of the Japanese armour.
But this time it would be better.  The dragon would be contained so that it could cause no more than 1.5oC damage, where the 1.5oC rise was measured from “pre-industrial” temperatures.  And suddenly the small children were laughing, because even they knew that thermometers had only become effective around 1860. “Pre-industry” was before James Watt’s steam engine of 1800.  No one knew what the “pre-industrial” temperatures had been.
Yes, there had been some necroManncy trying to read tree rings to guess the temperatures, but the International Magicians Union had shown the flaws in that approach. “Pre-industrial” temperatures were a ±1oC myth, and even little children knew that.
Meanwhile, there were so many dragons on the loose that people were beginning to turn them into pets.  Dragonfire makes the world warmer, so the grim reaper of winter had less work to do. Plants love dragonfire, so the world was a cleaner, greener place. Dragonfire gives us energy to do things that overtax our own muscles. It pushes our massive trains and aeroplanes. Just wisps of it power our mobiles. 
The climate emperors just don’t understand. They thought they could persuade us that dragonfire was dangerous, so we could be taxed and they could have bigger cars and larger homes and breed many princes to rule over us.  Some unfortunate nations were convinced. They are now are suffering, with huge increases in the costs of energy and loss of jobs. 
That’s what can happen when emperors are deaf, and cannot hear what the children are telling them.