Phew! What a relief. They have agreed to limit the temperature in 2100 to only 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the level before industrialisation began. The elite tell us that is great news. We can all sleep easier in our beds. I admire their certainty and the precision of their forecasts.
So now that is sorted, can we get on and tackle the problems of people in 2015? Let’s start with the shortage of affordable energy, and go on to deal with the lack of clean drinking water and piped supplies in many places. Let’s tackle the poverty of the poorest countries of the world with programmes based on trade, investment and free enterprise. Lets tackle low incomes at home with policies to promote better paid jobs, wider ownership, and access to more affordable energy, water, broadband and services.
If we wish to tackle world poverty, as I do, it helps to start with more efforts to end wars and heal civil conflicts. One of the main drivers of poverty in African countries is endemic lawlessness and wanton violence which prevent normal commercial activity and the quiet ways of peace. The efforts 196 countries and the UN put into the climate change agreement needs to be more than matched with political initiatives to teach the arts of peace and orderly government to places that lack them.Where people think they are forced to live together in the wrong country there needs to be referenda and a political process to determine better borders. Where there are corrupt and tyrannical governments that damage freedom and prosperity there needs to be support for a national conversation which can gradually change those societies from within, as the great democracies achieved many years ago through their own internal stirrings and opposition forces.
The wars now raging in parts of the Middle East are visibly destroying buildings and commercial assets, as well as impeding commerce and killing and mutilating local residents. Whilst the deaths are the worst feature of the madness of war, the way it prevents civilian business and advancement can become a self reinforcing mechanism to prosper only the thugs and the military commanders. Where is there hope when so many young men are either out of work or in a violent gang? Where is the better future when a young man thinks his best hope of advancement is to show skill in visiting violence on his neighbours? How does a society survive when warring bands fight to plunder the diminishing assets of the territory fought over?
I am no pacifist. Sometimes violence requires superior force to deal with it so others can live in peace. That is why the victor nations from the last world war set up the UN, to authorise and help guide state force against evil governments and out of control insurgencies. We also need to recognise that after the violence, or to end the violence, there does always need to be a political process. War is a means of shifting the balance of forces to change the politics decisively, and can sometimes do that for the better. It is no permanent substitute for politics or for a peace process. It is in itself always destructive, always imposes a high price in lives and lost economic activity, and always has to be replaced by stable government and economic repair for anyone to claim it has had a worthwhile outcome. Will the UN today show some decisive concern about these weighty current matters now it has fixed the weather in 2100?