Brundtland

With the UN IPCC besieged, its chairman Rajendra Pachauri facing calls for his resignation, and the entire AGW movement showing signs of crashing and burning, it’s perhaps a good time to take a look at one of the truly terrifying figures in the UN, in the IPCC, in the WHO, and in fact seemingly everywhere in global politics:   Gro   Harlem   Brundtland.

brundtland and pachauri
Brundtland and Pachauri at Copenhagen 2009
 

Born in Norway in 1939, Brundtland has been variously a doctor, three-term Prime Minister of Norway, chair of the Brundtland Commission on the human environment and natural resources, Vice President of the World Socialist Party, Director General of the WHO, member of the exclusive club of The Elders, and is at present Special Envoy on Climate Change for the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Her father, Gudmund Harlem, was also a doctor, and Norway’s Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Defence, and a member of the rather shadowy organisation, Mot Dag. She moved to the USA when she was 10 years old after her father received a Rockefeller scholarship. She married Arne Olav Brundtland in 1960, and returned to the USA in 1964, where she earned a degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, studying American efforts to combat pollution and other environmental problems.

Although her time as a clinician was meager, Gro’s experience in the field of medicine provided her the analytical tools with which to approach a life in politics. In 1989 she was quoted in Time as saying, "There is a very close connection between being a doctor and a politician. The doctor tries to prevent illness, then tries to treat it if it comes. It’s exactly the same as what you try to do as a politician, but with regard to society." [4]

She became Norway’s Minister of the Environment in 1974, and Norwegian Prime Minister in 1981. Her perspectives were always global in scope however.

The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), known by the name of its Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland, was convened by the United Nations in 1983. The commission was created to address growing concern “about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development.” [5]

For the first time the environment was tied to Socialist goals of international redistribution of wealth. Said the report, “Poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems. It is therefore futile to attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and international inequality.” [6]

She stepped down as leader of the Norwegian Labour party in 1992. But that wasn’t the end of her political career.

In 1998, Brundtland was elected the first female Director General for the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to her “Roll Back Malaria” campaign and the “Tobacco Free Initiative,” Brundtland raised international awareness on the health risks and feminization of poverty, arguing that a strong economy is built only with a healthy population of workers behind it. This starts in the home, in childhood, and under the strength of women, given the opportunity. Brundtland completed her term as the WHO’s Director General on July 21, 2003 and was succeeded by LEE Jong-wook.[4]

In 2003, the New York Times reported of her term as director-general of the WHO that she believed the gains she had made were due to her career-long efforts to persuade world leaders to take science seriously and to put health issues high on the political agenda.

Representatives of the countries also adopted what is believed to be the first treaty ever devoted entirely to health. Called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the treaty is intended to discourage cigarette smoking and to reduce the estimated five million deaths a year linked to it.

The treaty bans advertising and sponsorship of television programs and entertainment by tobacco companies and urges governments to enact strict indoor air laws, impose high taxes on tobacco and crack down on cigarette smuggling.

But the treaty must now be ratified by governments throughout the world, a prospect that many describe as realistic. Yet five years ago, Dr. Brundtland said, she doubted that the health organization ”could conclude a favorable convention on tobacco control” in her first term.

The representatives approved the treaty because SARS focused attention on global health issues and ”made it more difficult for countries that were a little reluctant to agree to the tobacco convention to go against it,” Dr. Brundtland said. Now, she added, ”It is a success story for W.H.O. and the world.” [3]

She had expected to be re-elected at the end of her first term, but wasn’t. An inkling of her attitude to health is perhaps given by a Time report:

Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organisation, has revealed that she would not tolerate a mobile phone near her for fear of radiation. They are banned from her Geneva office, and she warned parents against letting children become frequent mobile-phone users [7]

She instead became a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change.

“In 1990, my government instituted a carbon dioxide tax… You have to do things that hurt. It hurt certainly industry and the oil industry when this happened. Today, 20 years later, this has affected Norway’s continental shelf. It is the cleanest oil technology anywhere, because they’ve had a tax and regulations that inspired or forced them to do the right thing.” [1]

The message on her climate mission:

“We have no time to lose. The data are now clearly presented and have very high confidence levels. There is no question anymore about scientific disagreement.” [1]

In any Nanny State, a do-good busybody like Gro Harlem Brundtland would be Head Nanny. And as a socialist and environmentalist doctor-politician, she was very likely an inspiration and role model for many of New Labour’s women politicians, and for many other women around the world, and perhaps also for messianic doctors like Liam Donaldson. And, in her lead role at the WHO, she was arguably the principal driving force behind many of the world’s smoking bans.

..her road in life is a striking departure from the conventional track medical educators have long admonished doctors to take: ”stick to science and leave the politics to politicians.” Dr. Brundtland said she rejected this dogma early, while still a student at the University of Oslo and Harvard, and has been fighting ever since ”to have science taken seriously in politics.”[2]

She should have taken the advice given to doctors. Smoking and drinking and obesity are not epidemics like cholera and typhoid and dysentery. To treat them as such ends in treating people like insects.

About Frank Davis

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19 Responses to Brundtland

  1. Anonymous says:

    From Junican.
    I have not read your post as carefully as I should, but do we notice that her judgments are entirely dependent upon conditions on the Earth being equitable and perfect everywhere?
    How relevant are her cogitations to Haiti at this time? How relevant are they to Afghanistan? How relevant are they to Indian villages?
    But it is not even as simple as that.
    Her opinions require us to revert to pre industrial revolution conditions. In her world, there are no power stations, no hospitals (no need since everyone is healthy all the time); no armies since there is never any Taliban.
    In her WHO visualization of the world, there are no criminals; there are only smokers etc.
    What our new Government has to do is REFUSE TO FUND the WHO and IPCC, and all the rest of the freeloaders. Disband them all and start again, beginning with Global Warming. Introduce regimes which are publically transparent.
    Have any politicians the courage and foresight?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Re Junican
    “Her opinions require us to revert to pre industrial revolution conditions. In her world, there are no power stations, no hospitals (no need since everyone is healthy all the time); no armies since there is never any Taliban.”
    One of the things I find odd about Utopian idealists is that they never seem to really have any particular Utopia in mind. It isn’t quite right to say that they live in a dream world, because they never seem to present a vision of what that “dream world” would look like.
    It seems that they really have no vision of Utopia in mind. Instead, things like prevention, safety and equality are what they offer instead of constructive vision. To such people, progress means reducing, preventing, protecting, and minimizing. Progress never means increasing, encouraging, emboldening or maximizing.
    I find it to be a deeply pessimistic and destructive way of looking at the world. If people had always thought this way, all of the skylines of the world’s cities would consist of a uniform row of buildings of equal height with an equal appearance… which would amount to the same thing as no one ever even thinking that such a thing as a city skyline could ever exist. There would be no such thing. WS.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Re Junican
    “Her opinions require us to revert to pre industrial revolution conditions. In her world, there are no power stations, no hospitals (no need since everyone is healthy all the time); no armies since there is never any Taliban.”
    One of the things I find odd about Utopian idealists is that they never seem to really have any particular Utopia in mind. It isn’t quite right to say that they live in a dream world, because they never seem to present a vision of what that “dream world” would look like.
    It seems that they really have no vision of Utopia in mind. Instead, things like prevention, safety and equality are what they offer instead of constructive vision. To such people, progress means reducing, preventing, protecting, and minimizing. Progress never means increasing, encouraging, emboldening or maximizing.
    I find it to be a deeply pessimistic and destructive way of looking at the world. If people had always thought this way, all of the skylines of the world’s cities would consist of a uniform row of buildings of equal height with an equal appearance… which would amount to the same thing as no one ever even thinking that such a thing as a city skyline could ever exist. There would be no such thing.
    I read a short story once where all of the ugly people in the world were exterminated so the world would only have beautiful people in it. In the story, one family of ugly people still survive, until they are found and killed. When that happens, the whole world immediately turns into a place full of dull and boring ugliness. It was by Harlan Ellison, I think, but I don’t remember what it was called. WS.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Re: Re Junican
    Oops. Tried to edit and add. Sorry for the double post.

  5. Frank Davis says:

    Re: Re Junican
    “Her opinions require us to revert to pre industrial revolution conditions. In her world, there are no power stations, no hospitals (no need since everyone is healthy all the time); no armies since there is never any Taliban.”
    Is she a Deep Green? I knew she was a Green, with all the “sustainable development” stuff from the Brundtland Commission. There are Greens and Greens, and I’m not sure which sort she is.
    It seems that they really have no vision of Utopia in mind. Instead, things like prevention, safety and equality are what they offer instead of constructive vision.
    That reminds me of the early Blair years, when he’d talk about creating “a better world”, where life would be “better”, and in fact everything would be “better”. There was no clear idea of what actually constituted “a better world”. What did he mean by “better” other then, well,.. “better”? It was quite empty. I had the same response when he declared that invading Iraq was “the right thing to do”. Why was it the right thing to do? It goes no further than that. It was just “the right thing to do” and that was that.
    What terrifies me about people like Blair and Brundtland is that they are so utterly convinced that they know better than everybody else. It’s the sheer arrogance of it. She has no qualms about having “forced them to do the right thing” back in Norway. And when she got her Framework Convention on Tobacco Control through, she declared it “a success for the world” before the world had even begun to make a judgment about it. What other people might think about it doesn’t figure in her thinking.
    And her ideal world is one in which everyone is protected from dangers, real or imaginary. She’d have stood on the runway in front of the Wright brothers to stop them trying to fly, because it was fraught with danger. She’d have lain down on the railway lines in front of Stephenson’s Rocket, because that was dangerous too, hurtling along at 30 mph. She’s one of those people who see only the downside of doing anything, never the potential benefits. It’s expressed in her attitude to mobile phones: she can only see the potential dangers of them, and bans them. I bet there’d have been a Framework Convention on Mobile Phone Control if there’d been enough like-minded people in the WHO, declaring there to be an “epidemic” of mobile phones. It is indeed a deeply pessimistic and destructive way of looking at the world.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The stupid…it burns!!!!!
    She fears mobile phone radiation does she? That’s a bit of a joke from someone that considers themselves a scientist. All the scientific evidence points to exactly feck all danger from mobile phones. What an idiot.
    Bald headed John.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Re: Re Junican
    I feel like they are over genrealizing people, to fit the vast majority and hurt the rest. For example to deal with the obesity problem, they have proposed taxation on sugary, fatty, or high calorie foods. It may force people who are obese to eat food with low nutrients; also, it may force people on low calorie diets to eat food with no nutrients (vegans and poor people). They plan to save some and kill the others perhaps.

  8. Frank Davis says:

    Re: this maybe of intrest
    Thanks a lot for that!
    I may write something about it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I, too, thank you Frank. You’re truly a gentleman and a scholar. If they’re smokers, they’re my sisters and brothers, plain and simple.
    I, however, really like and admire Junican and, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic, must admit his point is well taken on American illiteracy. Nobody does stupid quite like we Americans. And Americans like C. Everett Koop and Bill Clinton did set the worldwide War on Smokers in motion.
    When you look back at our history it is littered with crackpot Clean Living Movements that seem to stem from a deep-seated, idiotic Puritan streak. We actually enacted and implemented Prohibition.
    I’m looking eastward to Spain, to Holland, to Greece, to France and, yes, to the UK to hold the line and break the back of Tobacco Control Inc. From there it will undulate back to our shoreline.
    Leg-iron really got to the heart of the matter with his comment, you’d be surprised at how many Americans would concur. And Michael J. McFadden is definitely the man.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I, too, thank you Frank. You’re truly a gentleman and a scholar. If they’re smokers, they’re my sisters and brothers, plain and simple.
    I, however, really like and admire Junican and, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic, must admit his point is well taken on American illiteracy. Nobody does stupid quite like we Americans. And Americans like C. Everett Koop and Bill Clinton did set the worldwide War on Smokers in motion.
    When you look back at our history it is littered with crackpot Clean Living Movements that seem to stem from a deep-seated, idiotic Puritan streak. We actually enacted and implemented Prohibition.
    I’m looking eastward to Spain, to Holland, to Greece, to France and, yes, to the UK to hold the line and break the back of Tobacco Control Inc. From there it will undulate back to our shoreline.
    Leg-iron really got to the heart of the matter with his comment, you’d be surprised at how many Americans would concur. And Michael J. McFadden is definitely the man.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I, too, thank you Frank. You’re truly a gentleman and a scholar. If they’re smokers, they’re my sisters and brothers, plain and simple.
    I, however, really like and admire Junican and, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic, must admit his point is well taken on American illiteracy. Nobody does stupid quite like we Americans. And Americans like C. Everett Koop and Bill Clinton did set the worldwide War on Smokers in motion.
    When you look back at our history it is littered with crackpot Clean Living Movements that seem to stem from a deep-seated, idiotic Puritan streak. We actually enacted and implemented Prohibition.
    I’m looking eastward to Spain, to Holland, to Greece, to France and, yes, to the UK to hold the line and break the back of Tobacco Control Inc. From there it will undulate back to our shoreline.
    Leg-iron really got to the heart of the matter with his comment, you’d be surprised at how many Americans would concur. And Michael J. McFadden is definitely the man.

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