Planet Gore

‘The Elders’ Are Here to Save Us

From today’s New York Times:

For a group of 20th-century leaders called the Elders — whose members include Archbishop Tutu of South Africa, former President Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, a former Irish president — it also was a conversation with their families that they felt would be most usefully conducted before the cameras.

On Thursday, seeking to highlight the responsibility that older generations bear for climate change, members of the group traveled to Istanbul for a symbolic photo shoot accompanied by young relatives.

“This is a rather late wake-up call for all humanity to behave in a more responsible manner,” said Lakhdar Brahimi, 75, a veteran United Nations envoy who helped broker an agreement ending civil war in Lebanon, and who was accompanied by his grandchildren, Balthazar, 5, and Basile, 3. “It is the responsibility of today’s generations to act,” he said.

The Elders group was founded in 2007 with the help of Nelson Mandela. Its chairman, Archbishop Tutu, acknowledged that his generation bore the blame for not making tough choices sooner.

“We should have long ago used recyclable energy,” said Archbishop Tutu, who danced on a lawn as he entertained his grandchildren before the cameras.

“If we had used solar energy or wind power, we wouldn’t have been in this predicament.”

Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish political scientist who found fame as the author of the provocative book “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” said that by campaigning for swift agreement at a global climate conference in December in Copenhagen, the Elders risked backing expensive and ineffective solutions that might divert money from more effective measures to save lives and protect the planet.

“I have no doubt the Elders care deeply about their grandchildren,” Mr. Lomborg said, “but we should be concerned about all the other grandchildren who were not at the event and who run the risk of dying tomorrow from lack of sanitation, starvation and disease.”

Ms. Robinson, 65, said she sympathized with that view, but she added that coming generations would not have a planet to enjoy unless action was taken now to resolve the problem.

To paraphrase Mr. Buckley, I’d rather be governed by the first few hundred seniors in the Boston phone book than this group of “Elders.”

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