Dr Laura: Ch 1

This book came out in 1994. Third-wave feminism was really kicking into things; punk, individualism, and e-zines were the order of the day. There was therefore, according to Newton’s Third law, an equal and opposite social reaction, here exemplified by Dr Laura. The first chapter is about “Stupid attachment”, with a subtitle of “Is a woman just a wo- wo- wo on a man?”

When I was a child, I learned the rules very quickly: girl things were bad, and boy things were good. Girl things were dolls, playing house, bright pink, barbies, passive toys. Boy things were action figures, video games, Lego, things that moved or that you could make do things. Girls were meant to be boy-crazy and fashion-focused, the entire purpose of their life finding a mate. Boys were meant to have dreams and aspirations, to grow up to be doctors or lawyers or what have you. Girls were for babies, and boys were for everything else.

Thankfully,  I was raised feminist, so I was raised to believe those things were wrong. I was taught that people still believed those things, but that was a problem we needed to solve. I played with boy toys, dressed as a tomboy, told everyone I was going to grow up to be a lawyer or maybe the President. I read books featuring strong female protagonists, and I learned to see the ways in which our culture is unkind to women.

Of course, I don’t hate women. Maybe that’s why I grew up to be an activist, focused on dismantling the patriarchal structures that built the above rules. Dr Laura, when faced with the same evidence, takes a… different tactic:

Contrary to much of the feminist cant, there are many things we can learn from men’s perspective about life and personal identity. […] Generally, aspirations and lofty intentions don’t dovetail with women’s concept of femininity, because the determination to make your life extraordinary is not a typical part of female thinking. […] Since women do not typically define self-esteem and purpose in terms of personal accomplishments, the ways they have gone about getting some sense of identity, value, and meaning in their lives have primarily been through relationships.

This is what Dr Laura means when she rails against victimhood: that nothing can be a result of structural inequality or inbuilt patriarchy, as though every woman wakes up one day and decides to be shallow and vain. “You know what would be fun, Martha? Defining my entire sense of self-worth by my ability to attract a boyfriend. What a lark!”

It can’t be, you know, say, Capitalism. It’s not like there’s any money to be made teaching people that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them that they need to fix with more beauty products and diet pills.

She has an answer to my complaint, of course. Even way back in the 90s, they knew about the patriarchy. (I’m teasing, of course. Everyone knows Feminism started in 1989.)

While I’m not going to deny the realities of the male power structure, I do want to reprimand you sternly about passing the buck. […] Obviously, it can be done. If, if, if, you’re not lazy or cowardly.

Hear that? If you’re not successful, it’s because you’re lazy and/or cowardly. No other reason. And that’s not a denial of the reality of patriarchy. That’s just truth. Obviously.

As proof of how messed up women are when they define themselves by their relationships, she relates the tale of a caller who “baby-trapped” a man only to find it backfire. Here, she’s clearly conflating issues: that’s a stupid, selfish, immature thing to do to someone, and it has nothing to do with how you define your sense of worth. People do stupid, horrible things when they define their sense of worth by their careers, too. But more of those people are men, and this book is about how garbage women are, so obviously we can’t talk about those things.

The next section utterly confounds me. I can’t understand the logic here. It begins:

Are you obsessed with your weight, your thighs, your breasts, the thinness of your hair?

It then relates the tale of a caller who called in unable to stop obsessing over her hair, which was falling out. When Dr Laura probed, the caller revealed she was in a very stressful degree program, which was clearly triggering some anxiety (obsessive fixation is not an uncommon anxiety reaction, or so I understand). Dr Laura’s remedy was to “be more positive in her attitude and have more fun in her life”, which isn’t exactly helpful here (“smile more, it’ll cure your depression”) but isn’t the worst advice ever for someone trying to run a pop culture self-help show instead of a clinic to dispense.

This is where it gets weird:

Obsessing about imperfections makes for low self-evaluation, obviously.

Doesn’t that tend to go the other way around?

And just like water seeks its own level, equal self-evaluations match up in men and women, too.

Citation needed.

There are legions of women who stay with men who are drug or alcohol abusers […] By continuing the relationship, you — out of cowardice and self-denial — short-circuit your progress toward “purpose”

What? I didn’t skip much here, readers; she seems to have jumped from “anxiety mixed with low self-esteem leads to obsessing over flaws” to “women seek out abusive boyfriends and stay with them out of cowardice”. I think she’s trying to imply that if you hate yourself, you look for someone who will abuse you almost intentionally, so you can “get what you deserve”? But I don’t understand how the caller nervous about her hair has anything to do with this.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The thesis of this chapter — of this book — is clear: Dr Laura hates women. No matter what you do, you don’t win. Try to define yourself by a man? See the above quotes. Try to define yourself by having children?

She used a phrase remarkable for its poignancy: “So, I took the female escape route and got married and made babies right out of high school.”

If I had tried to make my son my sole purpose in life, I’d probably have psychologically destroyed him with my overwhelming demand that he either fulfill my dreams or display such excellence that my craving for reflected identity would be satisfied.

(Note that earlier, when talking about the father in Dead Poets Society, she seemed to be forgiving of men doing this:

I held [the mother] more responsible for the boy’s death than the father!

The father was all caught up in his competitive macho behavior of using his son as his ego extension. After all, could being a doctor be considered such a bad thing to wish on someone?

It’s only women who can do no right.)

But she also rails against people who aren’t sure what they want in life:

The moral of this story is to not get stuck in looking for the right thing to do, the outstanding thing that will make you special. It is the process of doing, of committing yourself to something that makes the difference in your enjoyment of life and your satisfaction with self.

As long as that something isn’t marriage or babies. Or your looks. Or dating women.

In essence, you can only live one kind of life that Dr Laura will accept as valid. And that life looks an awful lot like her idea of masculinity:

Women seem to like more to whine about problems than to solve them. Men, more typically, want to solve problems rather than talk on and on about them. Men are being maligned because they are not behaving like women: talk, talk, talk, whine, whimper, analyze, reanalyze, etc. Ugh. […]

I sincerely believe that if women studied male lessons in concepts of assertion, courage, destiny, purpose, honor, dreams, endeavor, perseverance, goal orientation, etc, they would have a more fulfilling life[sic], pick better men with whom to be intimate, and have better relationships with them.

I feel like that grammatical error is telling: in Dr Laura’s eyes, all women are interchangeable, all are living the same singular life, and all need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps in order to fix that one life and be more masculine.

Posted in Dr Laura | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

New Series: Reading Dr Laura

Dr Laura and I have a history.

My mother, whom I have written about on this blog before and whom my senpai has repeatedly offered to punch in the face, was a huge fan of Dr Laura back in the day. She was also rather a fan of Dr Phil and Oprah around the same time; this was before I moved out, I believe she’s moved on from both of them to the Pearls and other evangelical leaders in the intervening years. But at the time, I was a teenager, and I remember hours spent trapped in moving vehicles while Dr Laura advised call-in guests to do horrible things to their kids for the crime of being like me.

(We didn’t often talk in the car by that point. Mom wanted to hear her show, and I was ungrateful enough for her driving me all the way to summer school and back every day that I didn’t dare push it. She knew my feelings on Dr Laura. I also knew her feelings on my bisexuality. It was a difficult time.)

The other day I was browsing the church’s bookstore, looking for research materials for my steampunk novel. The bright red cover jumped out at me immediately:

Image result for ten stupid things

It was hauntingly familiar; I can’t recall if I read it or if my mother just had a copy lying around constantly. I also intimately recall the covers of “Ten Stupid Things Couples Do To Mess Up Their Relationships” and of “Bad Childhood, Good Life”, both of which I believe my mother mailed to me in care packages over the years. The bold blocks of color, the refusal to uppercase the casing on the title… it sent instinctive anger and fear signals coursing through me.

“Is it bad to buy a book just to burn it?” I asked.

I did buy this book; it was on sale, and used, and I plan to revisit the text on this blog with you all. Starting with the back cover, which I will quote in its entirety a paragraph at a time:

Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart or psyche! If you really want to change, it can jump-start your journey to self-worth.

I’m already getting flashbacks. If you’re not familiar, Dr Laura has a perfect blend of aggressive, in-your-face shock statement with condescension and mockery. “If you really want to change, you won’t be so thin skinned,” she seems to be saying. “You’ll let me neg you into self-worth.”

Dr Laura Schlessinger is the incredibly popular and controversial psychotherapist who hosts the nationally syndicated, top-rated midday radio talk show.

Fun fact: the radio show came first. She got a certificate in marriage and family counseling before her show went big in the 90s, but after she started doing the radio relationship advice thing as a part of other people’s shows (in the 70s and 80s). I suspect she figured it would help her career to be able to say she was trained, rather than her really learning much from it.

Laura Schlessinger has very strong convictions, and he doesn’t hesitate to voice them to callers.

Convictions like “don’t marry outside your race” and “homosexuality is a biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex” and that gay people should be subject to “therapies which have been successful in helping a reasonable number of people become heterosexual”. Just so we’re clear what this copy means by “convictions”.

She urges women emphatically to lose a domineering jerk of a lover and pick one of the “good guys”, to stay home and parent the babies they’ve made, and to follow that dream rather than some dreamboat. Above all, Dr Laura exhorts women not to blame anybody or anything but themselves if they’re unhappy and their lives seem a mess.

So in case you thought MRA/Red Pill stuff came out of nowhere in the 2010s, recall that this book was published in 1994.

Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives uses real-world examples from Dr Laura’s radio show and private practice to drive the message home.

I bet that was great for her patients, who likely expected confidentiality.

And the message is that our reticence to be bold and brave often makes us act like stupid, submissive victims.


Once we muster the courage to take responsibility for our own problems and to tolerate the discomforts of risk, the possibilities for personal growth and joy are limitless.

If you’re looking for an all-approving hand to hold, you won’t find it here. If you’re prepared to take a clear-eyed look at your self-diminishing behavior and make the move to a quality existence, there’s no one better than Dr Laura to keep you honest and to cheer you on. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never look at your relationships, behaviors, and decisions the same way after you’ve’ finished reading Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives

Are you ready, dear readers? Because we’re doing this.

The book begins with a preface. As if we didn’t get enough warnings on the back cover copy, we open with a preface containing more of the same:

This book is going to be difficult for you to read — and maybe even hurtful to you — and you may get angry.

There are ten million exceptions to everything I say. Nonetheless, EVERYTHING I SAY IS TRUE!

So right off the bat we know what we’re dealing with: an egotistical narcissist who doesn’t care how the message is received so long as she can yell about how right she is. Why would anyone take advice from this clown?

In the introduction we get the offhand comment that led her to write this book: “You know, Laura, if you listen to your show long enough you begin to think women are stupid!” Again, we see how this works right away: she cannot be wrong, so if her show gives that impression, it must be true, and therefore she should write a book to show everyone how true it is.

An example: One of my callers, who was “having trouble” losing weight, claimed she had looked in every available self-help book for a scenario she could really relate to. She called because she was frustrated she hadn’t found it yet.

Oh great! In other words, until she finds herself in a book […] she has a perfect excuse for doing nothing

You see the immediate contempt for people in her tone, in her reaction. She’s sure that every caller is pulling a fast one on her, that every person who hasn’t already found an answer to their problem is stupid or lying to themselves, and in that way, she can feel superior. Add in a helping of right-wing politics:

In the Age of the Victim, nothing is anybody’s fault!

and some eve-blaming:

my father […] once remarked at dinner that men couldn’t get away with anything rotten, political, or personal, unless women let them. […] the ultimate power of women over men was their sexual acceptance and/or approval

and you get pretty much exactly the toxic cocktail we see today in our nightmares.

So feel free to hurl the fruit of my labors across the room or call it nasty names or just ignore it.

Don’t worry. I plan to.

Posted in Dr Laura, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Tomboy Hair: An Update

It seems my Tomboy’s Guide to Curly Hair has been getting some attention lately, so I wanted to give you all an update. You see, there comes a time in every butch person’s life where they want a real, solid change. Where they take the plunge. Where they… cut their hair.

Yes, that’s right, I got myself a Significant Butch Haircut!

2017-10-31 07.48.27.jpg

Now, there’s a funny thing about curly hair you’ve probably noticed if you have it yourself: the length can vary significantly depending on how damp it is and how you’ve styled it. If you’re going to do this, you want your stylist to cut it while dry, so it has the right length, and then shampoo. (You might want to get someone certified in the Deva Cut, since they’ll know what they’re doing).

Once it’s cut short, I’ve found the products used make a difference. It tends to come out more butch and sassy like that when I use a Hair Lotion product; the one I linked is the one my husband prefers and which I tend to steal. It comes out more defined and femme when I use a more traditional styling cream, like the Deva Curl styling cream.

But another big difference is in how I dry it. I towel-dry using a t-shirt, but after that, if I let it dry naturally, the weight of the water tugs the curls downward, resulting in a longer appearance:

2017-09-15 17.25.32.jpg

If I use a hair dryer, on the other hand, I can get a shorter look:

2017-10-12 05.24.28.jpg

Now, I’ll admit right out the gate that I don’t know a lot about hair dryers. I just bought a cheap one at walgreens. If you do want to make sure you get one that suits your particular needs, there’s a great resource on reviews.com testing out various hair dryers and reporting the best in each category. For curly hair, the thing you need to keep in mind is that you will need a diffuser. This is not optional!

The technique here for short hair is real simple: snap on the diffuser attachment, turn it on low, and press it up close to your head. The diffuser helps spread out the air so it’s not concentrated on one small patch, and the little tongs avoid squishing the curls so it can get the air in and around them to dry the underside. With short hair like this, it doesn’t take long at all to dry, though I still find it too much work for the day-to-day.

How has your hair been in 2017, readers?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

On fatness, part 1

I’m going to save you some time and state my conclusion up front: diets don’t work.

Does that make you angry? Are you already drafting a letter about how I’m irresponsible and reckless and playing fast and loose with my health? If so, I have bad news for you: you’re not going to like this post or this series. You may as well cut your losses now.

Does it make you uncomfortable? Please sit with that discomfort as you read on. Try to figure out what’s causing it. I have some ideas, but I won’t get to them until later in the series.

One of the major problems with evaluating the effectiveness of dieting is that the people who evaluate a given diet usually have a vested interest in proving that it is effective. First and foremost, this is often because the company that sponsors the study is the company that will stand to profit from proof that their diet is effective. Food companies often sponsor research; there was a large scandal when it was discovered that sugar lobbyists funded research blaming saturated fats for obesity in order to get people to stop blaming sugar, and when it was discovered that Coca-Cola (who makes many “diet” sodas) funds similar research. Lesser et all put together some research proving that these funding sources have a significant impact on what is reported.

But we do know some things. One of the major “inspirational” sources of weight-loss advice is the TV show The Biggest Loser, in which fat people are forced to go through torturous and rigid routines in order to lose weight. This show gives them round-the-clock assistance from a nutritionist and a personal trainer. They are asked to cut their calorie intake in half, and exercise 3 hours a day. This is the classic “calories out minus calories in” math: eat 1500 calories, burn 1200-1500 through working out, lose 25 lbs in a week. If they’re losing an average of 58kg (127lbs) per contestant, you’d think that would improve their life for the better, making the pain and suffering worth it. They have a running start, and now understand how to eat and work out over time to continue losing weight. Except that six years later, they’d put an average of 41kg (90 lbs) of that back on, and their metabolism had adjusted to require around 500 less calories a day.

It’s not their fault, probably. A similar study in 2008 found similar results across people who had lost weight on their own. Miller found evidence to support a complete relapse across all diet programs in 3-5 years after the weight is lost. Think about people you know who diet, or your own history: if dieting were so effective, why is everyone doing it for pretty much their whole adult life? Shouldn’t people go on diets once, lose weight, and be done?

Maybe the studies are flawed. Maybe all of us are living in small bubbles of exceptional people who aren’t losing weight, and those bubbles are what are being studied. Another way to account for the problems with individual studies is to do a meta-study: if trends emerge across the large and disparate data gathered from many sources, including pro-diet sources, then we know something is more likely to be true. Miller et all did just that in 1997: they analyzed the data from 493 separate studies that used diets, exercise plans, or both to cause people to lose weight, throwing out those studies that used drugs, hormones, or surgery. They found that most research was being done on people around the age of 40 who are only moderately obese, and that the average study lasted only 15 weeks — well before the bounceback effect would show up. But even given that, even given the best possible conditions the studies could manufacture for weight loss, people only lost an average of 11kg (24 lbs). When studies revisited the subjects one year later, they found that only 6 kg (13lbs) were maintained.

You’ll find the same results in a meta-study by Curioni and Lourenco in 2005, by the way: they found diet and exercise together provided an initial weight loss of 13kg on average, with a sustained weight loss of 6kg after one year. The difference is that their conclusion reads “Diet associated with exercise results in significant and clinically meaningful initial weight loss. This is partially sustained after 1 y[ear]”. Apparently, losing about 25lbs and gaining back 10 of them after one year is considered a “success”. As we saw above with the Biggest Loser study, I’d expect most people to gain back more than that by the 3-5 year mark… if they haven’t gone on another diet by then.

Franz et all performed the same analysis and found an average loss of 5-8kg, with only 3-6kg maintained, and considered it a success (3 kilograms is 6 lbs, if you’re American like me). Avenall et all found that low-fat diets are the only ones that are “effective” at 3.5kg lost at the 1 year mark. They added various drugs to the mix in the hopes of getting better results and found people lost 3-4kg that way, and again, declared it a success. Nordmann et all found that at the one year mark, there’s about a 1kg difference between low-carb and low-fat diets. Many other studies I found simply reported “weight loss” and didn’t give numbers — I suspect because the numbers were the same if not smaller.

6 lbs isn’t nothing… but it’s far from what Gallup reports people want to lose: around 16lbs (7 kg). It’s not even enough to be noticeable, according to Daniel Re: people will notice if you lose around 8-9lbs, and find you more attractive if you lose 14-18lbs (6-8kg). And it’s not enough to cure the “obesity epidemic”: Americans clock in at around 26.5 BMI on average, and need to be below 25 to be “healthy”. According to the Daniel Re interview above, the number of pounds to make up one BMI point is variable depending on height, but 1 BMi is somewhere in the vicinity of 8 lbs, so half of people in America “need” to lose more than the studies show possible.

So what can we do? If diet and exercise don’t work, how do we tackle the obesity crisis and make ourselves healthier en masse? Stay tuned, because I’m going deeper into this in follow-up articles.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Vision

Content note: This shit is aaalllll about anorexia.

Continue reading

Posted in Musings, My Story | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A proposed bill to strengthen our country’s technological infrastructure

A proposed bill to strengthen our country’s technological infrastructure:

  1. Remove the exemption classification for IT workers.
  2. Mandate that any flexible hours worked outside of the normal shift in response to an incident or other business-driven trigger (“on-call” activation) is considered overtime hours, regardless if the regular minimums have been met
  3. Mandate that, if your regular shift is not during this period, any call after 10pm or on weekends must be paid at least 2x the normal hourly rate rather than the usual 1.5x

Businesses would fix their goddamn tech problems practically overnight, and we could all get some sleep.

That is all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What’s in the Paris Agreement anyway?

I’m so tired ya’ll

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what the Paris Agreement is, what it obligates the United States to, and what it obligates countries like China and India to. So let’s take a look at this landmark agreement for ourselves.

There is a PDF version of this agreement in English hosted on the UN Climate Change Newsroom website if you want to read along at home. As always, I’m not a lawyer or a politician, just doing my best to understand the law.

The Paris Agreement


The agreement begins with a preamble about who the signers are and why they’re signing. The agreement was signed by countries who are parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (AKA The Earth Summit), which basically means the 154 countries who met in 1992 and agreed that climate change was a problem. It mentions the Durban Platform, a group of negotiations which resulted in this agreement. It mentions the objectives of the Convention, including common goals yet different responsibilities. It mentions the “urgent” need for an “effective and progressive response”; it mentions the needs of developing countries who will suffer greatly from climate-change related flooding, but it tempers that with their lack of funding and technology. It mentions that signers may suffer due to the affects to prevent climate change as well as by the effects of climate change, and it keeps in mind the desire to eradicate poverty. It also brings up food insecurity and the desire to end hunger, noting that climate change may cause famines. It mentions the desire to create new jobs. It brings up a whole host of other concerns that have to be kept in mind:

  • human rights,
  • the  right to health care,
  • the rights of indigenous peoples, migrants, children, persons with disabilities, and vulnerable persons
  • gender equality
  • empowerment of women
  • intergenerational equity
  • biodiversity
  • education
  • public access to education
  • cooperation at all levels of the government

And finally, it suggests that more developed countries take the lead in this effort.

Articles 1-3

Article 1 just contains some definitions.

Article 2 says that the purpose of this agreement is to strengthen the global response to climate change. It outlines the goals: hold the increase in global temperature to below 2 degrees celsius over pre-industrial levels, become more resilient to climate change, and directing money toward reducing greenhouse emissions. It spells out that different countries will take different roles in this agreement because each has different needs.

Article 3 says that each country will plan their own specific response to this agreement rather than the UN dictating what exactly they do.

Articles 4-5

Article 4 is pretty long, so it gets its own section; it’s long, however, because it’s the first bit that lays out what the signers are responsible for doing. Here’s what they have to do:

  • Reach peak greenhouse gasses as soon as possible, and reduce greenhouse emissions from there. It’s spelled out that this will take varying amounts of time for varying countries, but the aim is for the second half of this century (so 2050 and on)
  • Make a plan and communicate what it is
  • Make sure the plan is more aggressive than what they’re doing currently, rather than coasting on at the same rate
  • If they are a developed country, take the lead in this effort. If they are developing, just try their best.
  • Support developing countries’ efforts since they tend to be poor
  • The least developed countries and small islands get special consideration for their circumstances
  • Provide the information needed for clarity and transparency
  • Communicate on their progress every five years
  • Coordinate their time frames as well
  • Anyone at any time can decide to be more aggressive than their communicated plan
  • The secretariat will record everyone’s plans
  • Communicate the data needed to hold each country accountable with honesty, integrity, transparency, comparability (the same numbers reckoned according to the same method across the board), and consistency
  • Take into account existing methods and guidance from the committee
  • Take other countries into account when making their plans to minimize the impact for all
  • If they have agreed to act jointly, they need to tell the secretariat that
  • Be responsible for their own carbon emissions even when working in concert

Article five asks them to:

  • Preserve sinks of greenhouse gasses, such as forests
  • Continue upholding existing agreements, including reducing deforestation, conserving, and managing forests sustainably (aka replanting).

Article 6

Article six begins by specifying clearly that this is a voluntary agreement, and that therefore “cheating” (double-counting and so on) is going against the spirit of volunteering. Basically, it says nobody made you sign, so don’t go back on this agreement later or try to weasel out of it.

It then goes on to set up a meeting with the overall goal of reducing greenhouse gasses, which signatories to the agreement can attend on a voluntary basis. It also spells out that if someone counts an emission reduction which happened as a result of the meeting’s strategy as part of their contribution to the overall agreement, that exact reduction cannot be counted by another party. (For example, if the committee decides to spend a bunch of money to improve trains between Paris and Frankfurt, both France and Germany cannot claim that as part of their efforts; either can claim it, or neither, but not both). It spells out that money raised by the committee meetings outlined above should go toward paying administrative fees and helping developing nations meet their agreements. It spells out that rules and procedures will be decided by the committee.

Finally, article six mentions non-market, holistic approaches. This includes building capacity, adaptation, and finances. I’m not a hundred percent sure what approaches it’s talking about, but all this does is recognize that such approaches are important, and suggest that they be used.

Article 7

Article seven talks about resiliency and reducing vulnerability to climate change, so that the effects do not cause as much damage. The signing parties recognise that this is a valid and important concern, particularly for developing countries, since often it’s all they can do. Action taken to adapt should be driven by the individual countries, responsive to gender, and fully transparent, leaning on the best science we have as well as traditional and indigenous knowledge. The signing countries should strengthen their cooperation on this, including:

  • sharing information, lessons learned, and best practices
  • strengthening arrangements to share knowledge and provide technical support and guidance
  • improve climate science, early warning systems, and research so that better decisions can be made
  • helping developing countries make plans, identify needs, and prioritize
  • taking better and more durable actions

Non-country signers are urged to support countries in this. Each signer is asked to participate in planning and acting, including:

  • taking action
  • planning to take action
  • measuring climate change so they can take action
  • monitoring and measuring the effects of actions taken
  • building resilient economic and ecological systems, such as by managing natural resources in a sustainable way

(Real harsh terms, right? I hope you don’t think it’s me being vague: all of this is spelled out in vague, high-level terms like this)

Everyone who signs is supposed to come out with a personalized adaptation plan, making sure it doesn’t make life harder for developing countries. The plan shall be updated periodically, and recorded by the secretariat. International support shall be available for developing countries. Finally, the stocktake in Article 14 will recognize adaptation plans.

Articles 8-10

Article 8 spells out that preventing, minimizing, or handling damage due to climate change is also important. It upholds the existing Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts, and says that it can be enhanced or strengthened by the committee coming out of this agreement. It lays out some suggested areas for cooperation:

  • early warning systems
  • emergency preparation
  • slow onset events
  • events that involve permanent damage (I think we’re talking flood cleanup here)
  • risk assessment and management
  • risk insurance, risk pooling, and so on (like home insurance, but for countries)
  • non-economic losses
  • resilience of communities, livelihoods, and ecosystems

Article 9 asks developed countries (like the US) to offer money for developing countries (like India) to help them out with their plans. This needs to be scaled up from previous efforts, as they weren’t working fast enough. They have to report on this every two years in a transparent way, and the approval mechanism for developing countries to get the money should be simple and transparent. This is the Green Climate Fund, to which the US has pledged $3 billion; the goal was to get to $100 billion per year globally, and we’ve only paid $50 million of our pledge so far. You can see where the money comes from and goes to in their infographic portfolio website.

Article 10 talks about technology development and transfer, and urges parties to cooperate. It spells out that financial help may be available for this, and puts together a team to work on that aspect.

Articles 11-15

Article 11 talks about capacity building, particularly for island nations. This is talking about improving the ability of poorer, developing nations to actually implement these suggestions. It should, like everything else, be country-based, transparent, and routinely communicated on.

Article 12 basically just says that climate change education and access to information is important too.

Article 13 outlines a special concern for transparency. It sets up for a system to be put in place to ensure transparency without putting undue burden on the signers, and asks each signer to provide an inventory of emissions by source and removals by sink (forests remove carbon emissions) and the information needed to track their progress against their pledges. Developed countries are asked to provide information about how they’re contributing to help developing countries, and the latter are asked for information on how they’re receiving and spending the funds. All the information is subject to a technical expert review, akin to a peer review.

Article 14 establishes a “global stocktake” that will occur in 2023 and every five years after. It is meant to list out how everyone’s doing and whether we need to adjust course.

Article 15 establishes a committee to “promote compliance” in a way that is not adversarial, doesn’t punish anyone, and is transparent.

Articles 16-20

Article 16 basically says that the annual conference on climate change will serve as the meeting of the people who signed this agreement as well. Countries and organizations that signed other climate change agreements can watch, but cannot speak at this meeting. They’re allowed to set up sub-committees and so on to get things done. It was 2015 when this was held in Paris, so there’s only been one meeting since then.

Article 17 says that the secretariat of the Convention on Climate Change is the secretariat of this agreement as well, so there’s no need to appoint another one. Article 18 does the same for the sub-committee on scientific and technological advancement. Article 19 allows other sub-committees for the Convention to serve this agreement if the Convention wants them to.

Article 20 outlines when and how you’re allowed to sign the agreement, when and how you’re allowed to ask to sign it later, and who is bound when various special groups sign.

Articles 21-29

Article 21 explains when the treaty will take effect for each country. Article 22 explains that amendments are handled just like the previous Convention. Article 23 handles annexes by saying they’re just like the previous Convention. Article 24 covers disputes in the same way.

Article 25 explains that everyone who signs gets one vote, except that regional organizations get one vote for each of their members states. I believe this covers the EU.

Article 26 explains the Secretary-General is the one who receives signed copies, amendments, and withdrawals. Article 28 says you can withdraw from the agreement three years after it goes into force for you (so, for the US, 4 November 2019). The withdrawal cannot take place any sooner than one year later (so 4 November 2020). If you withdraw from the Convention on Climate Change, you also withdraw from the Paris Agreement. From reading that document, it has the exact same rules, meaning Trump can probably withdraw from the Paris Agreement in as little as a year by withdrawing from the Convention on Climate Change (which entered into force for the US back in 1994).

Article 29 says that the Secretary-General hangs onto the original agreement, in English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Chinese, and Russian.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment