When those who agree can’t agree

The Copenhagen summit called by the United Nations to put together a global response to global warming ended without an agreement. BBC asks Why did Copenhagen fail to deliver a climate deal? and goes on to propose some answers:

The summit failed to deliver a way to halt dangerous climate change
About 45,000 travelled to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen – the vast majority convinced of the need for a new global agreement on climate change.

So why did the summit end without one, just an acknowledgement of a deal struck by five nations, led by the US.

And why did delegates leave the Danish capital without agreement that something significantly stronger should emerge next year?

This is an example of a larger phenomenon: Often people who agree with each other on the fundamental issues nevertheless have trouble agreeing on specific proposals. We are also seeing this in the Democratic debate in Congress over the Health Care Bill. Virtually all of the Democrats want Health Care Reform. (One who didn’t, Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama just announced that he is changing parties and becoming a Republican.) And yet the Democrats are having trouble coming up with a bill that all of them agree on. We also see this in the church. Also academia. Also business organizations. Why do you think this is? Is it individual or group interests getting in the way?

At any rate, this is not always a bad thing, as in the case (in my opinion) of the Copenhagen summit.

Consequences of the “one-child policy”

Just as some Westerners have started advocating laws to prevent families from having more than one child, China is having second thoughts as it is facing the consequences of its one-child policy, which it enforced with mandatory abortions:

More than 30 years after China's one-child policy was introduced, creating two generations of notoriously chubby, spoiled only children affectionately nicknamed "little emperors," a population crisis is looming in the country.

The average birthrate has plummeted to 1.8 children per couple as compared with six when the policy went into effect, according to the U.N. Population Division, while the number of residents 60 and older is predicted to explode from 16.7 percent of the population in 2020 to 31.1 percent by 2050. That is far above the global average of about 20 percent.

The imbalance is worse in wealthy coastal cities with highly educated populations, such as Shanghai. Last year, people 60 and older accounted for almost 22 percent of Shanghai's registered residents, while the birthrate was less than one child per couple.
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Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission, has said that fertile couples need to have babies to "help reduce the proportion of the aging population and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future."

Remember when the phrase “population crisis” referred to alleged over-population? Now the same phrase is used for under-population.

Climate change and population control

At the Copenhagen global warming conclave, the Chinese are pushing another approach to cutting down carbon emissions: population control. As you read this, keep in mind what China does, enforcing the “one child” policy by forced abortions:

Population and climate change are intertwined but the population issue has remained a blind spot when countries discuss ways to mitigate climate change and slow down global warming, according to Zhao Baige, vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) .

"Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of CO2 emission reduction but a comprehensive challenge involving political, economic, social, cultural and ecological issues, and the population concern fits right into the picture," said Zhao, who is a member of the Chinese government delegation.

Many studies link population growth with emissions and the effect of climate change.

"Calculations of the contribution of population growth to emissions growth globally produce a consistent finding that most of past population growth has been responsible for between 40 per cent and 60 percent of emissions growth," so stated by the 2009 State of World Population, released earlier by the UN Population Fund.

Although China's family planning policy has received criticism over the past three decades, Zhao said that China's population program has made a great historic contribution to the well-being of society.

As a result of the family planning policy, China has seen 400 million fewer births, which has resulted in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions a year, Zhao said.

Could the climate panic mindset lead to the same policy here?

UPDATE: A Canadian journalist is already advocating that all the world’s governments emulate China in imposing by law a one child limit.

Peace through strength

Congratulations to President Barack Obama for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. By awarding the prize to a wartime president who is presiding over two wars and has just ordered an escalation in one of them, the Nobel Prize Committee may be setting a precedent that recognizes that peace often comes from force of arms. President Obama delivered a speech to this effect:

Just nine days after ordering 30,000 more U.S. troops into battle in Afghanistan, Obama delivered a Nobel acceptance speech that he saw as a treatise on war's use and prevention. He crafted much of the address himself and the scholarly remarks – at about 4,000 words – were nearly twice as long as his inaugural address.

In them, Obama refused to renounce war for his nation or under his leadership, saying defiantly that "I face the world as it is" and that he is obliged to protect and defend the United States.

"A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leaders to lay down their arms," Obama said. "To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism, it is a recognition of history."

The president laid out the circumstances where war is justified – in self-defense, to come to the aid of an invaded nation and on humanitarian grounds, such as when civilians are slaughtered by their own government or a civil war threatens to engulf an entire region.

"The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it," he said.

He also spoke bluntly of the cost of war, saying of the Afghanistan buildup he just ordered that "some will kill, some will be killed."

"No matter how justified, war promises human tragedy," he said.

But he also stressed the need to fight war according to "rules of conduct" that reject torture and other methods. And he emphasized the need to exhaust alternatives to violence, using diplomatic outreach and sanctions with teeth to confront nations such as Iran or North Korea that defy international demands to halt their nuclear programs or those such as Sudan, Congo or Burma that brutalize their citizens.

"Let us reach for the world that ought to be," Obama said. "We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace."

Maybe next year the prize will be given to George W. Bush.

UPDATE: Seriously, it’s a good speech, and, as Kathleen Parker points out, it is distinctly Christian in its worldview and theological tradition. Consider this passage:

“For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

Here we have acknowledgement of the reality of evil, implying the existence of objective moral truths; the imperfections of man; the limits of reason; just war theory. All proclaimed to a hostile crowd that has probably forgotten these elements of their Christian heritage.

China’s forced abortions

Kathleen Parker has a terrific column on forced abortions in China:

Coerced abortions, as well as involuntary sterilizations, are commonplace in China, Beijing's protestations notwithstanding. While the Chinese Communist Party insists that abortions are voluntary under the nation's one-child policy, electronic documentation recently smuggled out of the country tells a different story.

Congressional members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission heard some of that story Tuesday, two days before President Obama was slated to leave for Asia, including China, to discuss economic issues. Among evidence provided by two human rights organizations, ChinaAid and Women's Rights Without Frontiers, were tales of pregnant women essentially being hunted down and forced to submit to surgery or induced labor.

Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of the Frontiers group, told the commission that China's one-child policy "causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on Earth." . . .

A woman pregnant without permission has to surrender her unborn child to government enforcers, no matter what the stage of fetal development. . . .

The one-child policy has created other problems that threaten women and girls. The traditional preference for boys has meant sex-selected abortions resulting in a gender imbalance. Today, men in China outnumber women by 37 million, a disparity that has become a driving force behind sex slavery in Asia. Exacerbating the imbalance, about 500 women a day commit suicide in China — the highest rate in the world, which Littlejohn attributes in part to coercive family planning.

Obviously, the United States is in an awkward position with China, our second-largest trading partner and the largest holder of our government debt. But Littlejohn hopes Obama will "truly represent American values, including our strong commitment to human rights." She is also calling on Planned Parenthood and NARAL to speak up for reproductive choice in China.

That last sentence raises a great question. Planned Parenthood and NARAL say they are not pro-abortion, just pro-choice. So why aren’t they agitating against for a woman’s right to choose NOT to get an abortion in China?

Strategic reassurance

Two long-time foreign policy experts, Robert Kagan and Dan Blumenthal, critique the Obama administration’s policy towards Russia and China:

The Obama administration's worldview is still emerging, but its policies toward Russia and China are already revealing. Its Russia policy consists of trying to accommodate Moscow's sense of global entitlement. So far that has meant ignoring the continued presence of Russian forces on Georgian territory, negotiating arms-control agreements that Moscow needs more than Washington does and acquiescing to Russian objections to new NATO installations — such as missile interceptors — in former Warsaw Pact countries. An aggrieved Russia demands that the West respect a sphere of influence in its old imperial domain. The Obama administration rhetorically rejects the legitimacy of any such sphere, but its actions raise doubts for those who live in Russia's shadow.

The administration has announced a similar accommodating approach to China. Dubbed "strategic reassurance," the policy aims to convince the Chinese that the United States has no intention of containing their rising power. Details remain to be seen, but as with the Russia "reset," it is bound to make American allies nervous.

Administration officials seem to believe that the era of great-power competition is over. The pursuit of power, President Obama declared during a July speech about China, "must no longer be seen as a zero-sum game."

Unfortunately, that is not the reality in Asia. Contrary to optimistic predictions just a decade ago, China is behaving exactly as one would expect a great power to behave. As it has grown richer, China has used its wealth to build a stronger and more capable military. As its military power has grown, so have its ambitions.

So our policy is to “strategically reassure” these potential adversaries by giving in to what they demand! Does that sound like a policy that will lead to peace on earth?


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