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Hoover scholar predicts U.N. climate conference failure

November 30, 2009 10:03:39 PM PST
President Obama and other world leaders will soon gather in Copenhagen to consider yet another global treaty on climate change. Many wonder if they will meet the challenge this time. One Hoover scholar with a record of using his computer program to predict the outcome of such events has taken a look at the question.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is one of those deep thinkers with an ivory tower office at the Hoover Institution. He has been thinking a lot lately about the United Nations Global Climate Change Conference.

He predicts it will be a failure.

"A feel-good agreement. No teeth," he says. "After a few years, it'll be just like Kyoto and Bali. It'll be, 'Wow. We thought that was good, but nothing's really come of it.'"

Anyone can make predictions including the crazy-8 ball that his students gave him. However, Dr. Bueno de Mesquita has a track record of accuracy.

"According to a declassified Central Intelligence Agency study, it's 90 percent," says "And, according to academics who have evaluated, published, peer-reviewed, published predictions in journals, it's also about 90 percent."

His 90-percent accuracy rate is rooted in a software program he developed 30 years ago to study foreign policy and conflicts, then analyzing the short-term and even long-term implications. Part of his predicted failure in Copenhagen is due to what he calls a cameo-appearance by President Obama.

"He is not an expert on the problem and he also has health care to deal with. And, he has Iran to deal with. And, he has North Korea," he says. "So, he can't give Copenhagen as much attention as he would like. The fact that he is going is a signal to the world that he's giving it importance."

Dr. Bueno de Mesquita writes books and makes predictions for corporations and government agencies. His predictions are based on data from experts. Then, his software analyzes a set of future outcomes based on alliances made and other factors.

The prediction can then be used to manipulate events. In the case of the U.N. conference, he says global leaders will not be as influential as the advisers who work for them in the background.

"They will be heavily focused and they have the expertise," he says. "So, shifts in their position will send meaningful signals to other people."

The bottom line is, do not expect a treaty with teeth.

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