Black is White: Climate Deception becomes Orwellian

By Frank Rotering | November 23, 2021

Given capitalism's dependence on economic growth, world leaders appear to have blundered in 1994 when they ratified the critical UNFCCC agreement.  As stipulated in the agreement's objective (Article 2), this committed them to maintaining GHG concentrations at safe levels.  Because these levels were already unsafe at the time (CO2 was at 360 ppm), the only way to meet this objective was to immediately eliminate emissions while removing the hazardous gases from the atmosphere.  However, this would have deprived the global economy of the fossil fuels it needed for further expansion.  The agreement thus had to be quickly nullified, and it was.

In 1995 the IPCC, in its second assessment report, effectively threw the threatening objective out the window.  It did so by refusing to specify dangerous GHG levels and restricting itself to emissions reductions.  See chapter one of Youth Ecological Revolution for the disturbing details.  In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol consolidated this approach by expunging the word "concentrations" and referring to emissions exclusively.  In 2015 the Paris Agreement did the same.

It now appears that 2015 also marked the end of the nice-guy stage for the nullification process.  With emissions on everyone's mind and concentrations largely forgotten, it was time to shift from subtle deception to outright falsification.  It was time, that is, to convince the world that the agreement's objective in fact refers to emissions rather than concentrations.  The deception's Orwellian stage had arrived.

I first noticed this in early 2018 while viewing a video series titled "Climate Literacy" by a scientist at the University of British Columbia.  In her segment on policy changes (see here at 11:36) she states that,

... the ultimate goal [of the agreement] was to stabilize GHG emissions at a level that would prevent dangerous climate change.  (Emphasis added)

To see how devious this is, consider the agreement's actual wording:

The ultimate objective ...  is to achieve ... stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. (Emphasis added)

The scientist thus copied some of the agreement's text to establish credibility, but replaced the impermissible word "concentrations" with "emissions".

A single academic can't modify the wording of an international agreement, but there was more to come.  Later that year The Atlantic magazine, in an article about a recent IPCC report, repeated the falsification in an even more egregious manner:

"The ultimate objective," [the agreement] said, was to cut greenhouse-gas emissions so as to "prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."  (Emphasis added)

Here the accurate text is not just copied, it is quoted for even greater credibility while "emissions" is carefully left outside the quotes.

In October, 2021 this process was complete when the New York Times joined the deception.  An editorial about the CoP26 conference in Glasgow began by stating that,

In 1992, more than 150 countries agreed in Rio de Janeiro to stabilize emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at a level that would "prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system ...” (Emphasis added)

As with The Atlantic, the Times used an accurate quote to mask the falsification in the unquoted part.  This behavior is in stark contrast to the paper's ethical guidelines, which include a commitment to "the complete, unvarnished truth" and a promise to, "correct our errors, large and small, as soon as we become aware of them."

I protested all three of these falsehoods, but to no avail.  I was told by the academic, The Atlantic, the Times, and also the progressive media watchdog FAIR ("Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting") that the falsification either didn't exist or was inconsequential.  There was no point in arguing with these compliant minds.


What is the significance of the UNFCCC's nullification for youth ecological survival?  In this section I address potential youth leaders to offer my views.

Let me first explain what this travesty is really about.  Alarmingly, it's just one part of a much broader deception to disorient and disarm your generation in the face of capitalism-driven collapse.  The overall mainstream strategy is this:

  1. Reduce the scope of the actual crisis, which is ecological overshoot, to "climate change"*;
  2. Restrict climate-change solutions to emissions reductions, which are compatible with capitalism's economic logic;
  3. Restrict emissions reductions to increased efficiencies while ignoring cooling aerosols;
  4. Restrict increased efficiencies to those that are profitable.

Briefly stated, the mainstream strategy is to sharply diminish the extent of the crisis and to strictly limit climate action to the most system-friendly and profitable measures.  If the UNFCCC objective had been allowed to stand, this plan would have been severely compromised.  The falsifiers are thus protecting critical elements of a strategy that undergirds the capitalist system, its continued expansion, and the resulting lifestyle benefits.

These are the main conclusions for you and your prospective youth movements:

  • First, intellectual corruption on the environment is now so far advanced that you should believe nothing that scientists, social leaders, the media, and educational institutions tell you.  The fix is in.  Think independently or perish.
  • Second, the fundamental reason for theatrical events like CoP26 is to entrench the emissions fallacy: the massive lie that the solution to the GHG crisis is reduced emissions rather than safe concentrations (initially) or a safe global temperature (now).  The detailed and often bitter battles over emissions reductions are almost entirely for show.
  • Third, the rich, the powerful, and many of the older will ruthlessly defend the ecocidal status quo to protect their material interests.  It is now absolutely clear that only revolutionary change will terminate their expansionary onslaught and hopefully prevent catastrophic collapse.
  • Fourth, ethical commitments are meaningless.  The New York Times shamelessly flouted its accuracy commitment to readers, and climate scientists consistently violate their ethical and professional principles.  For details on the latter, see this post.
  • Finally, the above strategy is perched on an extremely precarious branch.  The four components are highly deceptive and can be maintained only through extensive manipulations of the public mind.  If you can discredit the plan and expose the lies, the whole rotten structure could collapse like a house of cards.  That's the collapse we now need.

Minor edit: Feb. 18/22

Edits and update: April 19/22   The final draft of the IPCC's Mitigation report (Working Group III) states the following on p. 14-35:

"The Paris Agreement’s overall aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change ...  This aim is explicitly linked to enhancing implementation of the UNFCCC, including its objective in Article 2 of stabilising greenhouse gas emissions at a level that would ‘prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’."  (Emphasis added.)

I complained about this inaccuracy to Jim Skea, who is the IPCC's lead scientist for WGIII.  His reply was: "You are quite right, this slipped through the net.  We’ll fix it with an erratum before it gets set for final formatting/publishing."

Update: June 12/22   Not surprisingly, The Guardian has now joined the UNFCCC falsifiers.  The article "Thirty years of climate summits: where have they got us?" (June 11/22) states that the agreement's aims were put into practice "... through curbs on greenhouse gas emissions."

Update: Sept. 19/22   I reminded Skea that his report still falsifies Article 2 almost half a year after it was published.  In response he repeated his claim that this was "a simple mistake" that was missed by the chapter authors and reviewers.  I replied that this was highly implausible because the Times and Atlantic used the same deceptive quoting pattern.

Updates: Jan. 7/23

In a video on Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth states at 17:20 that the ecological limit is 350 ppm for CO2 emissionsHer book correctly refers to CO2 concentrations (p. 42), but the emissions story is apparently so powerful and pervasive that this verbal slip went by unnoticed.

The final version of the AR6 Mitigation report has now been published.  On p. 1464 the UNFCCC objective is correctly cited: "... stabilizing GHG concentrations 'at a level ....'".  However, according to Table 14.3 (p. 1461) the goal is, "To stabilize GHGs in the atmosphere at a level ...".  This omits the word "concentrations", which could easily lead to further confusion and ambiguity.


* As explained in Youth Ecological Revolution (p. 12), "climate change" is an inaccurate term for the full range of environmental impacts from unsafe GHG concentrations.  A far better choice is "GHG crisis".

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