The Climate Game Seer

By Keith Kloor | October 23, 2009 9:07 am

Is the Copenhagen climate treaty doomed? In the November/December issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Bruce Bueno De Mesquite, a political scientist from New York University uses computer modeling in game theory to predict that,

Despite the hoopla, the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen is destined to fail. Here’s what will happen instead: Over the next several decades, world leaders will embrace tougher emissions standards than those proposed-and mostly ignored-in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. But real support for tougher regulations will fall. By midcentury, the mandatory emissions standards in place will be well below those set at Kyoto, a far cry from the targets for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases set to be discussed by world leaders in Copenhagen. And by the time 2100 rolls around, the political will for tougher regulations will have dried up almost completely. The reasons are many, but come down to this: Today’s emerging powerhouses like Brazil, India, and China simply won’t stand for serious curbs on their emissions, and the pro-regulation crowd in the United States and Europe won’t be strong enough to force their hands.

You scoff?  Don’t bet against the good professor, who has done work for the U.S. State Department, multinational corporations, and even environmental NGO’s.  De Bueono boasts:

According to a declassified CIA assessment, the predictions for which I’ve been responsible over the years have a 90 percent accuracy rate.

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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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