Wikipedia tells us that the century-long Great Game, the struggle between Britain and Russia for control of Asia, was given its name by ” Arthur Conolly (1807–1842), an intelligence officer of theBritish East India Company‘s 6th Bengal Light Cavalry. It was introduced into mainstream consciousness byBritish novelist Rudyard Kipling in his novel Kim (1901). “
The Climate Game is Greater. It involves more players and the stakes are higher. Huge multinational corporations, including General Electric and six more of the top 10 companies in the world are directly involved. Fully 30 of the top 100 companies may well succeed or fail depending on decisions made on climate change. Not only energy companies, but insurance firms and airlines–the list goes on. And of course, even companies not directly involved are indirectly impacted and are following the Game with considerable interest.
This Greater Game may in fact have been started by corporate behemoths trying to advance the cause of nuclear power–Edward Teller may have been an earlier version of James Hansen, positing global warming as a reason to move away from gas and oil as long ago as the 60s.
The Greater Game of course involves countries, predictably split between the developed and developing. The poor would welcome development aid from any source and for any reason, and climate change is as good as any–they need sea walls and river control systems already and building them a bit stronger to take climate change into account is just fine with them. The developed world, on the other hand, sees the potential problem but is reluctant to part with the money needed to address it. They subsidize fossil fuels even as they attack them and their producers. They agitate for cleaner fuels but are reluctant to follow the lead of emerging countries and finance the nuclear power plants that seem to be the obvious solution. And they are reluctant to pay climate reparations directly to the developing world, hoping they can pay their own countries’ consultancies and energy transformers to do the work and keep the money in their national accounts.
But it also involves a huge number of NGOs, many of them supported by the governments they are trying to influence, creating a positive feedback loop for messaging and decision-making that trends towards extreme views of what human contributions to climate change portend.
Organized crime is a player in climate change, running circles around regulators trying to set rules for carbon emissions and renewable power generation. From Italy to Brussels to Japan, criminals have repeatedly taken advantage of efforts to jump start a new sector and they eagerly await their share of any new money committed to the cause of dealing with climate change.
While we here in the blogosphere look at each other and try to debate/fight/slam/convert each other, we are pale shadows of the real fight between organizations that are large, well-financed, organized and very much used to getting their own way on important issues. Most bloggers don’t even know who the major players are, let alone what they are doing or why.
While we fuss and fight about trivialities like the Keystone Pipeline or Exxon’s statements to its shareholders, General Electric’s three contract wins in four months for large-scale battery storage deals are far more germane to the issue. While Australia dithers on how much solar and wind it should finance for their paltry emissions, their exports of coal look set to increase as India’s power consumption soars.
The Great Game referred to above lasted 104 years (although shadows of it are still in play). Who wants to bet that this Greater Game will last longer?