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« British science journalists on Climategate | Main | Delingpole on the Daily Politics »
Sunday
Jun242012

Sustainable development and meaningless drivel

Booker pens a post-mortem on the Rio Conference, boldly declaring that the global warming scare is over.

The great global warming scare has long been dying on its feet, but that sad fiasco of a conference in Rio last week saw it finally dead and buried. “It’s pathetic, it’s appalling,” wailed a spokesman for WWF, one of the thousands of green activists who flew to Rio, many at taxpayers’ expense, to see the last rites read over their lost dream. Their cause has even been abandoned by one of its most outspoken champions, the green guru James Lovelock of “Gaia” fame, who now admits that the warming scare was all a tragic mistake, and that talk of “sustainable development” is just “meaningless drivel”.

When I spoke in St Andrews the other week, I noted that you can now get a degree in sustainable development. Edinburgh runs a similar course too.

I wouldn't like to be studying for that qualification now.

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Reader Comments (87)

The scare may possibly be over ( and personally, I doubt it as this gravy train has as much momentum as a oil tanker ) but the regulatory tail certainly remains.

Until the EU breaks up and we drive a stake through the heart of the Climate Change Act the consequences will haunt us for years and years.

What a fiasco it has been and ,sadly, remains.

Jun 24, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Andrew Bolt has some excellent quotes from the Rio final draft document at
http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/what_on_earth_are_they_smoking_at_rio/

39. We recognize that the planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that Mother Earth is a common expression in a number of countries and regions and we note that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development. We
are convinced that in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environment needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature.
In our tribe we refer to the planet as Uncle Earth, due to it’s occasional ominous rumblings, sudden twitches, and climatic oubursts, plus its tendency to interfere with children in a life threatening manner.

Jun 24, 2012 at 8:26 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The "European Energy Centre", at Napier University, offers a set of 2-day courses on energy, "Training Courses Based on the European Project EMTEU - Energy Management Technician in Europe". I notice some come with the line "This course offers a fast-track solution for becoming a consultant in the renewable energy sector".

http://www.euenergycentre.org/training

Jun 24, 2012 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Schneider

"Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" Mark Twain The Great CAGW Delusion

Jun 24, 2012 at 8:55 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

geoffchambers
The phrase "Mother Earth" is certainly one I am familiar with but this the first time I was aware that She had "rights".
What are the counterbalancing responsibilities, I wonder?

Jun 24, 2012 at 8:59 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Booker pens a post-mortem on the Rio Conference, boldly declaring that the global warming scare is over.

I would agree. I think sometimes that the sceptics forget they can always show up the inadequacies of the climate poseurs in their own terms, like Lomborg does. The lack of actual effect the posturing by the climate fraternity has had could only ever move in one direction and become ever more apparent at all levels right down to the man in the street. The emperor has been performing a disgustingly slow strip tease.

The big events were always the saving grace for these poseurs, helping to convince themselves how magnificent and essential they are, but in the end they only aid to cover up how little they actual know and do. We forget the extravagance of the events is there to bloat their own egos mostly. As others say this doesn’t mean a move to sanity overnight, the remaining layers of parasitic infrastructure these losers have created as a refuge for themselves remains to be stripped away and this could take a long time. Having stupid government departments which allegedly control the climate will be a sign of the times one day ;)

Jun 24, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

The concept of sustainable society is still a valid one. Unfortunately, the political hijacking of the environmental movement means we have a long hard road ahead reclaiming the language, the education, and the value systems

Jun 24, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

Sustainable development, is the latest incarnation of the global warming scam. The powers that be, have twigged that they can no longer scare us with soaring temperatures (They're not, as good as static for 17? years), shrinking arctic ice (bottomed out?)
I heard a snippet on the news, that we can't blame Africa etc, for overpopulation, as all those fatties in the West, especially the USA, are equal to having another billion people on the Earth!

Jun 24, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

I teach "sustainable development" as part of my introductory course on environmental economics and management. I teach my students that it is meaningless drivel, and use it as a frame to teach them how to recognize meaningless drivel, how to attach meaning to concepts like these, and why meaningless drivel is so popular with diplomats and policy makers.

Jun 24, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Booker and Delingpole, amongst others, keep claiming the cAGW hoax is over. Logically of course they SHOULD be right - but, if one talks to half the population (or 99% of the pols, 99.9% of journos or 99.999% of Beeboids), one is soon disillusioned! The truth will ultimately out, but I suspect another 15 years before even a majority of Beeboids accept the facts!

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

My MSc programme at the University of London (SOAS) succumbed to the environmentalism of good intentions, ie, "sustainable sevelopment."

As Richard Tol says, it is meaningless drivel, on a par with "social justice." But because both are supposed to make people feel good about forcing others to do something, it exists, and now it has been "institutionalized."

Hmm. Come to think of it, "institutionalized" in earlier decades meant mentally hospitalized. Perhaps we need to bring it back to reign in "sustainable development"?

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

Encouraging poll reported in the Sunday Times supporting the view that we are dealing with a dead man walking ...

http://thegwpf.org/the-climate-record/6043-most-britons-no-longer-believe-climate-change-is-man-made.html

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:27 AM | Registered Commentermatthu

Watching and reading about the goings-on at Rio, and Durban before that (and will COP18 in Doha, this year, be any different?) it's all the more striking to look at what was said 40 years ago, when sustainability went global, as it were. There was a speech made by anthropologist Margaret Mead at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972 (haven't found the entire speech so far, just snippets of it here and there) which now seems impossibly high-flown:

"So great has been the technological thrust of our science and energy", the statement said, "so rapacious our consumption of nonrenewable resources, so rapid our growth in numbers, so heavy the load we place on our life-supporting systems that we begin to perceive the finite qualities of the biosphere of soil, air and water... This is a revolution in thought fully comparable to the Copernican revolution by which, four centuries ago, men and women were compelled to revise their whole sense of the earth's place in the cosmos. Today we are challenged to recognize as great a change in our concept of man's place in the biosphere."

From "comparable to the Copernican revolution" to "meaningless drivel" is an extraordinary reversal of fortune, wherever one stands on these issues.

@ Geoff, by the way - "Uncle Earth" - brilliant! :o)

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Orson: it's not Richard Tol but James Lovelock that (according to Booker, whose reliability is not in doubt in my house by now) is calling sustainable development meaningless drivel. Because I've not been reading the full text of much recently I didn't know that. Wonderful ammo, thanks CB and BH. What the D in PhD stands for these days.

It's worth noting that Booker's article really to do with UK MPs coming to their senses. I'm sympathetic to Martin A and others warning us that the death of AGW is at best a long, drawn out affair. Too many snouts in the trough, too little voice for those paying the most dearly in fuel poverty or much worse. But thank God for the internet at such a time.

What the UNEP does now is a fascinating and not unimportant question. But the CO2 scare is basically over. The power seeking that used it as a cover most certainly isn't. Thanks as ever to those watching and warning, not least Chris Booker himself.

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I thought the photographs, used to illustrate Booker's and Geoffrey Lean's articles on the Rio farce this week, said far more than thousands of words about the whole debacle:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9350678/MPs-have-no-idea-how-to-meet-the-carbon-target-they-voted-for.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/9349274/Rio20-Earth-Summit-is-a-washout.html

These sort of pix should receive maximum exposure amongst the forces of sanity - so that normal apolitical taxpayers can reflect on the wisdom of using their money to fly thousands of disturbed misfits half-way round the world in order to give them the best chance of exerting their malign, undemocratic influence on our simple minded politicians.

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Orson: it's not Richard Tol but James Lovelock that (according to Booker, whose reliability is not in doubt in my house by now) is calling sustainable development meaningless drivel. Because I've not been reading the full text of much recently I didn't know that. Wonderful ammo, thanks CB and BH. What the D in PhD stands for these days.

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:38 AM Richard Drake

Ever since Lovelock used the phrase a couple of weeks ago, I've been replying to any particularly irritating tweets from the green activist twitterati - with the brief response #meaninglessgreendrivel (c. Dr J Lovelock).

Childish, I know - but quite therapeutic ;-)

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

"The great global warming scare has long been dying on its feet, but that sad fiasco of a conference in Rio last week saw it finally dead and buried."

Oh yeah?

Would someone please inform my Australian Prime Minister.

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

Jun 24, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Adam Gallon

Sustainable development, is the latest incarnation of the global warming scam.

Sorry, but I do not believe this is the case. The records clearly show that the meaningless drivel known as "sustainable development" (SD) preceded "global warming" (GW) aka "climate change" (CC) by a few decades.

SD faded into the background for several years, while GW and CC became the focus of all the scary stories and so-called "science" with which we have been bombarded ad nauseam and ad infinitum.

No less a luminary than the "non-policy prescriptive" IPCC chair, Rajendra K. Pachauri has declared:

I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it. [emphasis added -hro]

SD was the somewhat dormant progenitor of GW/CC. But the failure of GW/CC as a vehicle to ... uh ... sustain the promotion of human generated C02 as the "primary culprit" requiring penance - in the form of megabuck contributions from countries in the developed world - has resulted in the resuscitation of the once dormant SD as the new, improved meaningless drivel of choice!

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

It would seem that the Camergreens will march on regardless, Oliver Letwyn had an article in the UNEP magazine December edition, entitled "Let's Lock in Green Growth". The UNEP magazine, "Our Planet", is a publication edited by Geoffrey Lean of the Telegraph:

http://www.unep.org/pdf/op_dec_2011/EN/OP-2011-12-EN-FULLVERSION.pdf

Apparently Cameron calls him his main frame computer, some suggest he should be turned off and on again,

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/iainmartin1/100155166/david-cameron-says-oliver-letwin-is-the-governments-mainframe-computer-turn-him-off-and-on-again/

I think re-cycling would be preferable.

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

The show’s not over until the Moonbat squeaks.
Monbiot yesterday:

So what do we do now? That is the topic I intend to address in my column next week.
Any guesses as to what Graundalf the Grim is going to propose? Immolating himself on the steps of the Telegraph? A duel to the death with Delingpole on a melting iceberg?
Any suggestions?

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"But the CO2 scare is basically over." I don't believe they'll give up without a fight and the beginning of that fight will be AR5, which you can bet will tell us it's getting worse and that things will be worse. Don't forget what we have against us:

1. Powerful, public supported, NGOs who lobby the government every day pushing an agenda that has no support at the ballot box and is unlikely to get any. These people are fanatics trying to impose a way of life that has never existed and will never exist on the rest of the population. They have money, they have influence and they will use it;

2. Rent seekers like Tim Yeo, John Gummer in the Tory party who are doing very well out of this scare;

3. The Bien Pensant in our society consisting of Guardian readers and journalists, CEOs like Branson, ill-informed pop stars and film stars. all with a voice that will be heard;

4. Land owners skimming hundreds of thousand from the public purse allowing windmills to ruin their neighbours environment;

5. Renewable energy manufacturers selling expensive useless energy sources with huge subsidies

6. A MSM muzzled by intimidation from the fanatics in (1) above.

7. A scientific establishment that has thrown its weight behind this charade, lock, stock and barrell, and which has profited enormously from huge injections of the people's money into useless climate science activities at multiple universities.

8. Huge bureaucracies with no role once the big scare has gone away.

Personally I believe it will be a long fight, but many people have to die before the matter is resolved and lolling about in parliament and doing hard sums are two activities destined to lengthen your time on the planet.

I don't think the bureaucrats have ever taken it seriously, evidence for this is that they've appointed John Prescott as their Rapporteur on Climate Change, I think that says it all.

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

These folks are similar to termites. If one board is lost then another is found in their eternal search to feed themselves. They've clearly found the human caused global warming board tasteless but it still serves a purpose. While the rest of us are out dousing the final flickers of global warming, they're building the "narrative". This time around, it's "sustainability". Note they use phrases that are mushy but universal and cannot really be argued in a negative way. Recall "the environment", "for the children", "for women", "help the less privileged", "cancer causing", and the list goes on and on. This is typical of their operations.

The model seems to be similar to the Pony Express model. Each "cause", in this case human-caused global warming", is just a horse. Once that horse is ridden 2/3rd the way to exhaustion they simply jump on another leaving us to take care of the nearly exhausted horse. And, just like the horses, we put them into corals, feed and water them, occasionally exercise them since that darn rider may show up again needing a re-mount.

It's time the non-nutters took control of things. The best way is to counter with agreement and demand solutions that are sane or at least sound that way. For example, for the "sustainability" horse they're saddling up, it can be countered with a demand for conversion to environmental recycling. First up is energy since anything worth anything for humans is energy based. We should demand the world implement thorium energy along with the manufacture of hyrdrocarbons from the atmosphere. The technology is there. It's better than those killing machines they call windmills and it's "sustainable" for a few billion years. While we build all the facilities, we go full out with "traditional" energy so that people aren't killed by the stupidity of the nutters.

One must recognize that you'll never rid the planet of termites. Indeed, they do have a purpose. However, you can control them and limit their damage if you have a plan and seize the initiative.

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

It was Gordon Brown who managed to redefine 'Public spending' as 'Investment'. 'Sustainable development' is merely an extension of that political meme.

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Any guesses as to what Graundalf the Grim is going to propose? Immolating himself on the steps of the Telegraph? A duel to the death with Delingpole on a melting iceberg?
Any suggestions?

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM geoffchambers

Retreat to his mountain lair in Machynlleth and invite Guardian readers to join him in setting up their own independent biosphere?

(Shouldn't be too hard - they already exist in a bubble ;-)

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

The scare is over, but the legislation put in place is still there and the climate change industry marches on. Inevitably, other excuses will be found to keep it all going, sustainable development, biodiversity, anything.

It will be a sign of progress when the CCA is repealed, and there's no sign of that happening any time soon. Don't forget that much of the legislation is based at UN and EU level which makes it that much harder to shift.

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I fear Bookers optimism is no different from 'The Science is Settled' , a publicity stunt to make people feel good at the current progress but until the CCA is revoked it is just as full of hot air.

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

@richard tol

'I teach "sustainable development" as part of my introductory course on environmental economics and management. I teach my students that it is meaningless drivel, and use it as a frame to teach them how to recognize meaningless drivel, how to attach meaning to concepts like these, and why meaningless drivel is so popular with diplomats and policy makers'

Sounds great - and fun! Is it available online?

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

If 'Mother Earth' is anything like my mother was, it's moods and swings will be very unpradictable!!

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterG.W.

A great post by Booker. But don't hold your breath for any changes in the legislation. Once the body politic and bureaucratic gets its teeth into something, it won't let go without a massive fight.

Jun 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

If 'Mother Earth' is anything like my mother was, it's moods and swings will be very unpradictable!!

Spelling error: Should of course be 'unpredictable'!

Jun 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.W.

Foxgoose says: "...so that normal apolitical taxpayers can reflect on the wisdom of using their money to fly thousands of disturbed misfits half-way round the world..."

Wonderful line, Fox!

Jun 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

foxgoose

..Retreat to his mountain lair in Machynlleth and invite Guardian readers to join him in setting up their own independent biosphere..
Monbiot’s moved from Machynlleth to warmer climes. (Is it true that, in honour of Phil, he’s calling his retreat of true believers Jonestown?)

Jun 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

@geoffchambers

If it is in honour of Phil they'll have lost the Kool Aid in the move...shame. :-(

But I was wondering if it'd be too much to hope that Gergis Moonbat will declare

'Oh f..k it. We were wrong. Best that we all shut up and go home with good grace and do Good Works instead'

Jun 24, 2012 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Green activists changing tack, like a vast shoal of red herrings.

Jun 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

What price "wisdom of the ages":

http://www.city-journal.org/2012/bc0622bt.html

Jun 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnm

Firstly, a bunch of 'delegates' that would attend a conference such as Rio are not in any way representative of what their country feels about climate issues. Secondly, who or what do the 'NGOs' represent? Nobody and nothing, really. They are not even unelected.

The fact that we have reached a stage where these two entities get together on a regular basis, and pretend to decide the 'fate of the planet' speaks volumes to the success these people have had.

The other thing is, crying failure is a frequently used and highly successful tactic in the environmental movement. Failure of what? Failure of their own expectations perhaps. But the environmentalists' expectations are so radically removed from the concerns of everyday folk trying to put bread on their table, that even 'failure' is greatly harmful let alone their success.

Another aspect of crying 'failure' is its value as a tactic. It is the NGOs making noise about failure. This sets up the stage for the next step, where the climate technocrat-beaureaucrat community will 'respond' to this pressure by parceling out morsels of governmental authority into the books of international accords. This good cop-bad cop tandem routine has been carried out several times in connection to the US EPA and its regulations.

Then there is the issue of continuity. The UNFCCC is conducted through a series of meetings and report issuings that are planned well into the early part of the next decade. 'Failure', even if it were, in one meet doesn't mean much. It is the process that matters, and the process is designed to be unending.

Finally Booker, and North, utilize the social scare framework to analyse global warming alarmism. As per, the scare portion of the story is concluded, and those who sowed its seeds now look to carry out their harvest. There has been enough for them - a law in Britain, Mexico and Australia, a trading scheme in Europe, drilling bans in the Arctic, coal plant regulations and pipeline obstructions in the US. What is however missed is that there are now enough environmental journalism, environmental psychology, and sustainability graduates to create the next army of David Roberts and Keith Kloor clones to fuel the next phase of the scare. Scares have a curve, at the end of which the issue does die away. Global warming alarmism is distinct however, as a species of environmentalism, that it is a perpetual one. It is not going anywhere. If it 'dies on its feet', it will be reborn in just the same way.

Jun 24, 2012 at 1:10 PM | Registered Commentershub

It is humorous that a bunch of NGO parasites who never actually do any work or produce any goods are given any credibility when it comes to advice on how to do anything regarding goods or service people need, much less how to do them 'sustainably'.

Jun 24, 2012 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Woiuld that it were humorous, hunter!
The fact that they are parasites who do have credibility in the corridors of power is certainly not amusing.
Given that "sustainability" will — in my view — be an easier sell than global warming there are worrying times ahead for those who can see through the scam.
I blogged on this in October 2010, though on the basis that the “Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)” had just been created, based on the IPCC, I assumed "biodiversity" rather than "sustainability".
The latter is the more dangerous in my opinion since the arguments for it are just as seductive (and wrong) but the outcomes would be more detrimental both to the human race and the planet.
But you can't win 'em all and the eco-extremists are quite happy to sacrifice the planet if it means destroying civilisation which is their prime objective.

Jun 24, 2012 at 1:51 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Any sort of scientific debate may be over. It may even shortly become difficult to find any politician willing to say they ever heard of it.

But the bureaucracy is in p-lace. Ther fakecharities are receiving thei £13 billion (probably not all for this scare). The windmillry subsidy junkies are sucking our blood. The argument has moved on from CAGW to cutting CO2, even though there is no possible reason to cut CO2 if not for catastrophic warming.

It is, as Churchill said of El Alamein, not the end or even the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning.

Jun 24, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

St Andrews does seem to be quite keen on sustainable development. As well as the courses, they also provide an Environment and Sustainable Development team that "helps to manage issues affecting the University that relate to Sustainable Development". The team's Sustainability Guide is quite droll if you've nothing better to do.

Jun 24, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

"If 'Mother Earth' is anything like my mother was, it's moods and swings will be very unpradictable!!"

In addition to that reported, the correct spelling is "its moods and swings . . .".because "it's" is always and only an abbreviation for "it is".

Jun 24, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlleagra

Is sustainable development really as objectionable to the brethren as the idea of CAGW? Why should there be a connection?

Jun 24, 2012 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

A great deal of what is said about sustainable development is indeed "meaningless drivel" but not everything. Anyone who doubts this should compare cod fishing off Newfoundland with cod fishing around Iceland. There has been no cod fishing in the waters off Newfoundland for many years now because over-fishing destroyed what had been one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. In 1992 the Canadian government banned cod fishing was banned by the Canadian government after the cod stock had dropped to just 1% of its original level.

No doubt there were people who hoped that the ban would lead to a rapid recovery in cod numbers but for many years afterwards that was not the case. The latest studies offer some grounds for hope as cod numbers off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have been increasing since 2005 but there is still a long way to go.

Collapse of the Atlantic northwest cod fishery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse_of_the_Atlantic_northwest_cod_fishery

In Iceland, by way of contrast, it was the banking industry that collapsed, not fishing which has remained healthy. Another country with a strong fishing industry is Norway, a country which was wise enough not to join the EU. If it had become a member its fishing industry might now have the same problems as the British one.

The example of fishing shows that when discussing "sustainable development" we should not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Jun 24, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"Is sustainable development really as objectionable to the brethren as the idea of CAGW? Why should there be a connection?"

Perhaps you can tell us what you believe sustainable development is bitty, it might be good, or it might by the usual impractical rubbish pumped out by the greenies. So what do you think it is?

Jun 24, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Is there any indication as to how Sustainable Development, so capitalised, will be justified and promoted? Is there to be a pseudo-scientific foundation, a la CAGW? Will said foundation employ an ecologically sound recycling of the UN/IPCC''s infamous hand-weaving fakirs?

Jun 24, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

In the short term I'm less optimistic than Booker. The global warming scare may be dead on it's feet, but the zombie will take a lot of getting rid of. If the economy was not currently a problem then governments might have signed up for more foolishness.

Fortunately the English-speaking countries do not carry as much weight as they did. China, India, etc., have seen what economic growth can do for them. Given their colonial histories, they are probably both wary, and weary, of high-handed sermonizing by western environmentalists.

Jun 24, 2012 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Hi Roy,

I agree with you about the fisheries, but wonder how much this is related to the idea of sustainable development per se, as opposed to more basic ideas of conservation and stewardship. For example, it strikes me that problems with fisheries have only a fairly tenuous connection with many of the more ambitious ideas expressed by the iisd.

Jun 24, 2012 at 3:24 PM | Registered CommenterPhilip Richens

Jun 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM | DennisA

Others may recall a substantial (in column inches) piece by Letwin in the Telegraph a year or so ago in which he claimed it was 'absolutely right' that the UK 'take the moral lead' in overseas aid and 'fighting climate change'. Sanctimonious drivel from start to finish. In a government which often acts like a bunch of overgrown sixth-formers, Letwin is the ultimate schoolboy politician. As long as he remains in the background as Cameron's right-hand man it's difficult to see things changing.

Jun 24, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Geronimo "tell us what you believe sustainable development is"

An economy that doesn't destroy its environment. In no particular order: industrial processes that don't pollute the water, the air, and the ground; products that are recyclable or reusable; extractive industries that respect their host communities and leave the environment as they found it; farms that conserve their topsoil and don't overuse pesticides and fertilisers, that live with nature instead of obliterating it; fishing that doesn't destroy fish stocks; etc.

Jun 24, 2012 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

My MSc programme at the University of London (SOAS) succumbed to the environmentalism of good intentions, ie, "sustainable sevelopment." As Richard Tol says, it is meaningless drivel, on a par with "social justice."

Worry not, Orson, there's increasing demand for graduates in meaningless drivel. It never was out of fashion since the Sophists. Institutionalized meaningless drivel seems an improvement.

Jun 24, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosualdo

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