Courtesy NYUCancel your plans for flying to Denmark this December. Send the polar bear suits back to the costume shop, and quit boning up on all those U.N. acronyms (IPCC … UNFCCC … AWG-LCA …).
The COP-15 climate talks in Copenhagen will fail. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, “one of the world’s most prominent applied game theorists,” has already gamed out the talks, according to the New York Times Magazine:
Global warming is another area where politics are doomed to fail. World governments are set to meet this December in Copenhagen to commit to firm CO2-reduction levels — but when Bueno de Mesquita modeled the future of these targets, most countries renege on them. No democratic government will seriously limit CO2 if it will hurt its citizens economically.
“When people are asked to make personal sacrifices for the greater good in the longer term, they seem to find 1,001 reasons why their particular behavior is so virtuous that this one particular deviation is really O.K.,” Bueno de Mesquita told me recently as we talked in his home office. “‘I have to drive an S.U.V. because I want to protect my little children from a car accident!'”
Or maybe not. The NYT was good enough to note that Bueno de Mesquita also predicted Bill Clinton’s health reform plan would pass back in the 1990s …
See also: GOOD Magazine’s profile from October 2007.
Get Grist in your inbox