“In every big transaction,” said Leech, “there is a magic moment during which a man has surrendered a treasure, and during which the man who is due to receive it has not yet done so. An alert lawyer will make that moment his own, possessing the treasure for a magic microsecond, taking a little of it, passing it on. If the man who is to receive the treasure is unused to wealth, has an inferiority complex and shapeless feelings of guilt, as most people do, the lawyer can often take as much as half the bundle, and still receive the recipient’s blubbering thanks.” - Kurt Vonnegut in God Bless You Mr. RosewaterThere is a type whose mission in life is to place themselves in the middle of any transaction and rip off a piece for themselves. The farther that they can keep the two sides apart, the larger their share. Some time, a decade ago almost to the day, Eli pointed out that this was the Honest Broker game. Indeed, this is the sine qua non of climate policy sharks and the journalist pilot fish flossing about them.
Scientists, well most, are unused to wealth and power, suffer from imposter's syndrome and have shapeless feelings of responsibility especially if their studies lead to dour and distressing places. Facts are value neutral, obvious implications not. True the receivers don't suffer from any of these, but if they can be kept separated from the source, why opportunities are boundless.
And the middlemen, well in the couple of decades that Eli has been in the blogging business, there are quite a few, but always new ones. They tend to come from political science and economics, have a weak grasp of the science, or at least are not very concerned with it if ignoring advances their persona, but hunger for access. New ones pop up now and again.
Oliver Geden is the most recent entry. Eli has spent some tweets and posts on him, and ATTP, well there is not much left to say after the latest deconstruction. Geden has opened up a vein to Nature but it is a weak one, based on the idea that it's all a hall of policy mirrors, scientific knowledge is besides the point.
so one should not trouble a bunny's pretty little ears because 2 C is a bridge too far@Oliver_Geden @mtobis @theresphysics @drvox the goal is to make policy evidence limited, not fantasy driven.— eli rabett (@EthonRaptor) October 10, 2015
Paul Price at ATTP had a good summary of who deserves the credit@Oliver_Geden You do have trouble differentiating between goals and accomplishments. As Mom Rabett said: Strive— eli rabett (@EthonRaptor) July 24, 2015
Yes, let’s admit that limiting to 2ºC is already very difficult but that does not mean that the pragmatic policy is to give up on 2ºC. It should mean that the alarm is ringing very loudly to say that the ‘honest brokering’ of policy advisors like Geden has entirely failed to move policy in the direction of actually achieving the emission cuts necessary. This latest article is just another attempt to evade the culpability of ‘advisors’ like himself for this ongoing policy failure. Shooting the messenger, he wants to blame climate scientists for pointing out inconvenient truths: so much for his integrity as a policy advisor. It’s hard to see Geden’s article as anything more than another prolonged effort to keep reality from intruding on his own political preferences for climate inaction.Still, besides the obvious intent to kidnap, there is an important point here that everybunny is missing. The 2 C target came from the good Nordhaus, not the BTI one, early on when there were a few decades, not right now or else conditions, but willy nilly it has been adopted as a boundary, a place beyond which there be tygers, but staying inside provides at least a modicum of safety and more time to get back to 350 ppm or less.
It would be impossible and foolhardy to renegotiate this goal now.
There simply is not time, it would open too many possibilities for delay and mischief. 2 C is simple and straightforward and easy for a policy maker to understand. Meeting the goal will be hard, maybe even impossible, but it is a goal and the closer the world can get to the goal the better. The further away the more catastrophic.