The Complete Idiot’s Guide to being a Head of State at the Earth Summit

Hi kids! Have you been watch­ing the pro­ceed­ings of the Earth Sum­mit in Johan­nes­burg? Do you wish that YOU too could take bold com­mit­ments to save the world and turn them into mushy lan­guage full of loop­holes, wig­gle room, and ambi­gu­i­ty GUARANTEED to ensure you nev­er have to lift a fin­ger to save the plan­et???

Well now you CAN! Let’s pre­tend you’re a real world lead­er in Johan­nes­burg! Here’s what you should do when hand­ed a draft agree­ment.

Let’s say this draft con­tains the fol­low­ing state­ment:

All coun­tries agree to phase out coal as an ener­gy source.

Isn’t that just awful? So clear and so sim­ple a child could have writ­ten it, but it’ll mean a lot of work for you when you get home. It may also make some of those pals of yours a lit­tle bit upset. They might not buy you any more elec­tions! So let’s swing into action!

Now, if you’re a nation­al del­e­gate, you can tell the Chair­man that you want to put that state­ment in brack­ets. Brack­ets mean you’re not entire­ly hap­py with that text, and you’d like to stran­gle it. Go on. Any coun­try can do it, all by them­selves, for any rea­son at all. Brack­ets are cheap, so sprin­kle them lib­er­al­ly through­out any text that sug­gest actu­al­ly doing any­thing! It’s so easy!!!

[All coun­tries agree to phase out coal as an ener­gy source.]

Now that you’ve got it in brack­ets, let’s add some cool inac­ti­vat­ing phras­es. Per­son­al­ly, I’ve always liked “take mea­sures to.” Watch!

[All coun­tries agree to {take mea­sures to} phase out coal as an ener­gy source.]

Still, that’s a bit too crisp. So let’s reach into our doc­u­ment hat and find anoth­er nifty nugget. How about “have instru­ments in place”??? Sounds like lawyers will get involved! Now THAT ought to slow things down!

[All coun­tries agree to {take mea­sures to} {have instru­ments in place to} phase out coal as an ener­gy source.]

Now, our com­mit­ment is a lit­tle lop­sid­ed, so lets look at a cou­ple con­di­tion­al claus­es for the sec­ond half. Let’s try the ever pop­u­lar, “inter alia, where pos­si­ble”! Now we’ve got a spiffy lit­tle loop­hole!

[All coun­tries agree to {take mea­sures to} {have instru­ments in place to} phase out {inter alia, where pos­si­ble} coal as an ener­gy source.]

Super-duper! Now, by putting one lit­tle phrase in front of the entire sen­tence, we can make it look like we val­ue talk­ing to every­body before doing any­thing. If we word it right, we’ll find our­selves mak­ing a com­mit­ment to sim­ply TALK ABOUT mak­ing a com­mit­ment! Out­stand­ing!!!! So, let’s “Devel­op mul­ti-stake­hold­er approach­es with the aim to,” shall we?

[All coun­tries agree to {devel­op mul­ti-stake­hold­er approach­es with the aim to {take mea­sures to} {have instru­ments in place to} phase out {inter alia, where pos­si­ble} coal as an ener­gy source.]

But wait a min­ute, we’ve been talk­ing for ten years about some of the­se sub­jects, and talk­ing is real­ly, real­ly tir­ing. So let’s see if we can’t change this into a com­mit­ment to THINKING about TALKING about tak­ing action. Oh boy oh boy! Let’s “Con­sid­er adopt­ing plans to”!!! Rock­in!

[All coun­tries agree to {con­sid­er adopt­ing plans to} {devel­op mul­ti-stake­hold­er approach­es, with the aim to {take mea­sures to} {have instru­ments in place to} phase out {inter alia, where pos­si­ble} coal as an ener­gy source.]

And there we have it! A mas­ter­piece of syn­tac­ti­cal inac­tion designed to send you home from Johan­nes­burg with zip­pi­ty-do-dah did­dley-squat to do!!!

This would be an excel­lent time to use your new found leisure to take up a hob­by, one you might prac­tice, inter alia, where pos­si­ble, in front to the fire. How about those vio­lin lessons you’ve been putting off???

1 thought on “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to being a Head of State at the Earth Summit”

  1. Thanks for final­ly writ­ing about >The Com­plete Idiot’s Guide to being a
    Head of State at the Earth Sum­mit — No Pas­sen­gers <Loved it!

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