There’s something perfectly fitting about a U.N.-sponsored “global warming” conference, convened to tell the rest of us that our lifestyles are too extravagant, holding its meeting at one of the world’s most luxurious resorts.

Ah, Cancun. Glorious beaches, balmy breezes, swank hotels, fine cuisine — our environmental watchdogs’ nirvana.

At least, as The Washington Times pointed out in a recent editorial, this meeting won’t end like last year’s Copenhagen conference did — with delegates fleeing early to avoid an unexpected blizzard. Moving the next meeting much closer to the equator avoided that bad P.R. image, but YouTubed videos of the delegates partying it up this week didn’t convey the aura of seriousness that the group’s public pronouncements attempted to carry off.

Copenhagen’s 15,000 delegates couldn’t come up with a meaningful successor to the expiring 1997 Kyoto pact to limit carbon emissions, and, according to all forecasts, neither will Cancun. Even Japan has announced it won’t attempt to meet current targets, let alone any proposed from now on out. Developed countries have finally added up the tab of slashing their economies to the output of decades ago, and it comes out reading “poverty.”

And developing nations are too busy building coal- and oil-fired power plants to worry too much about what their customers abroad, who keep snapping up their products, think about how they produce them.

This is, admittedly, a different proposition from the question of whether the world is getting a bit warmer overall.

Indeed, it may be — but despite what you hear, there is no real scientific consensus on how much global average temperatures will rise, or for that matter whether the average will continue to rise at all.

It is also unknown whether the effects of moderately higher average temperatures, if they do occur, will be more harmful than beneficial (longer growing seasons, fewer deaths from cold weather, which kills more people than heat, etc.)

Blaming carbon dioxide, which is a weak greenhouse gas (water vapor, present in large amounts everywhere, is far more effective at trapping heat, and the effects of the sun’s variability on climate are only beginning to be studied) is widely seen in skeptical circles as merely the intellectual left’s newest attempt to assert control over the world’s economic and political controls.

We are told this is “the hottest summer on record” without being told the records only go back 160 years. But other studies show the world was even warmer a millennium ago, when CO2 levels were lower.

Calls for reining in “climate change” seem tendentious when we know from history that the climate is always changing — and it cools far more often than it warms.

And it’s become a cliche among skeptics — or, as they are otherwise known, realists — that it will be time to believe in global warming when the people who say it’s happening start acting like they really believe their own claims.

That is, a conference called to discuss solutions to this computer-model-generated crisis attracted people from 192 countries flying in on CO2-emitting airplanes, and then living it up on their governments’ tab in ways much of the idle rich could only hope to enjoy.

Speaking of the idle rich, Al Gore maintains two homes, one in Tennessee and one in Malibu, with the carbon footprint of a dozen average families. If he believed the oceans were rising more than the tiny amount they actually are, why would he buy a beachfront home?

And Gore’s recent confession that his vote for subsidies for ethanol from crops was politically motivated and produced no net benefit for the environment (while raising food prices) was greatly underplayed.

Gore did say that ethanol from non-crop sources would be better, but the effects of the costly additive on gas mileage and small-engine longevity will still be detrimental.

The Cancun conference, which began Nov. 29 and is to run for two weeks (!), has already called for developed nations to cripple their economies via carbon reduction.

With the cap-and-trade bill dead in the water in Congress, and Gore’s carbon-trading exchange, CCX, going out of business, that seems a tad unlikely for the United States, and most other developed nations are turning away, as well.

But newly elected Republicans aren’t the only skeptics. This is a bipartisan effort, with many Midwestern Democrats looking askance at the job-killing effects of such legislation.

Sadly, our leaders continue to pay lip service to “energy independence” while acting in ways that make it impossible to achieve. The Environmental Protection Agency has been given the power by courts to regulate carbon, and will soon — unless stopped by Congress — begin to impose its own rules on U.S. businesses to implement its anti-growth ideology.

And President Obama, reversing an earlier pledge (now there’s a phrase you hardly ever see), this week blocked oil drilling in many promising sections of our offshore waters.

The bottom line remains the same, however: Will citizens of free nations make their own decisions about their use of resources while seeking prosperity for themselves, their families and their nation?

Or will they give their freedom over to an unelected but politically well-connected scientific clerisy that claims to know how to run their lives?

Every day, there’s more reason to believe the side of freedom might win this battle. 

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6482 or at:

mharmon@mainetoday.com