One does not like green eggs and ham

Our recent investigation into the accidental UK Conservative Party leadership contender, Jacob Rees-Mogg, led us to discover the perfectly rational, balanced and sober Guardian columnist, Suzanne Moore.

One of her recent offerings was on the subject of “hate crimes” and “online hate”.

Something must be done, she opines, there must be consequences.

Definitions are always a handy starting point when searching for the truth of a statement.

Firstly, what is “hate“?

In the English language it can have several related but different meanings; the opposite of love, for example. An extreme dislike of something or someone, perhaps. Without wishing to put words into Ms. Moore’s mouth, she seems to be defining it moore (see what I did there?) as an action than a feeling. Online hate, is the term she uses to describe this version of the word, suggesting the use of the verb rather than the noun version of hate.

Presumably she isn’t suggesting all hate must be banned? Hatred of olives, for example, would be a frivolous and difficult thing to legislate against. It might be straightforward to enshrine in law a ban on publicly-expressing one’s hatred for little green and black fruits however. Would that make the olive-haters suddenly, or even gradually, become lovers of olives? Of course not.

Defining the standard for what is hateful is equally tricky. Are you calling me rude names on the internet because you disagree with my point of view (here’s a few hundred words from Ms. Moore doing exactly that to JRM, without ever once critiquing his arguments)? At what point does that name-calling become online hate or even a hate crime? On Planet Guardian, it seems to be once we invoke certain physical, religious, racial, gender or sexual attributes.

At risk of invoking the slippery slope fallacy, who gets to define the limits of this definition and where does one apply for the job?

We might speculate that the flip side of online hate is offence. If the recipient of online hate takes offence, the hurt is amplified, which is perhaps the original motivation of the online hater?

Maybe there’s a clue in the way we phrase offence as a verb in the English language; we say that people take offence, suggesting that it’s a choice made by the recipient, not the hater offering it. The power is actually with the recipient.

Bill’s Opinion

Although we all know that we should strive for civility in our online discussions, we don’t always hold ourselves to that standard. However, to legislate to shut down those who are abusive risks collecting those with dissenting opinions or those with arguments we simply find uncomfortable in the same net.

Those of us who attract the attention of insulting or abusive online hate have several options available;

  1. Report threats of violence or incitement to violence to the police; this is an actual crime and has been for generations.
  2. Use the block button on whichever social media platform the abuse is arriving from.
  3. Log off, make a cup of tea and get on with real, not virtual, life like a grown adult.

Paris Accord good, Trump bad?

The coverage of President Trump’s refusal to re-commit the USA to the Kyoto Protocol is conspicuous in its dearth of analysis of the details of the agreement itself. 

Perhaps such analysis doesn’t fit the “narrative” we are being offered?

It is possible the media editors believe the public aren’t suitably skilled or qualified to comprehend the details. If so, perhaps they might remind themselves that one function of professional news journalism is to act as the intermediary between complex ideas and an uninformed audience.

As with all enquiries into objective truth, there is no substitute for doing your own research. Accepting the first position offered as authoritive without question is both dangerous and illogical.

Let’s see if we can fill the void;

What is the aim of the Paris Accord?

 

· To keep global temperatures “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C

· To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100

 

How does the Paris Accord intend to achieve this?

 

Well, the 2nd bullet point above is the main method, which suggests it’s an action not an outcome. It also suggests that human emissions are the majority factor in the forecasted increases in temperature. We won’t investigate that assumption here today but let it go unchallenged for the sake of our “whither the Paris Accord?” subject.

 

Specifically, the Paris Accord sought a commitment from all signatory counties to reduce their emissions. In the case of the USA, this would require a reduction of around 27% from the 2005 level by 2025 (i.e. a quarter reduction in emissions in less than 8 years). The USA would also be required to transfer around $3bn per year to developing countries to aid their emissions reduction programmes.

 

These commitments would be non-binding and there would be no consequences for failing to achieve them.

 

How much would it have cost the USA?

 

$3bn in a straight transfer to developing countries and a (assuming a reduction of 25%), a further $4bn reduction in GDP.

 

What guarantee was there that other major polluters would have held to their commitments?

 

None. 

No, really; none.
 

Specifically, what is the track record of the next two biggest polluters, China and India (ignore the confusing “EU” line on this Pareto as the EU countries are also shown individually and there is little evidence that the EU regulations will be adhered to by many of the countries)?

 

Woeful. China can’t even bring herself to tell the truth about GDP.

 

Was it a good deal for the USA?

 

$7bn per year, almost half of which would have been redistributed via the UN to developing countries will little or no oversight or consequence to confirm that it arrived at the intended end point or outcome?

 

No, it’s an awful deal for the USA but, more importantly, anyone who truly wants to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases. It’s a great deal for anyone who wishes to redistribute global wealth, which is perhaps the more pertinent point.

 

Bill’s Opinion

 

Donald Trump was elected by the American people for the American people. The deal on the table didn’t have their best interests at heart, even considering the place in the world as so-called global citizens. In fact, a recycling of $3bn into the economies of the 3rd world via their, largely undemocratic and often highly corrupt, governments would likely result in very little difference to the developing world’s emissions either.

 

In addition, the effective hamstringing of one of the world’s most innovative countries is likely to reduce the rapid progression to more environmentally-friendly energy.