December 3, 2010

M.D. Harmon: Party-hearty climateers revealingly whoop it up in Cancun

The political heat is rising on the ideologues who consider prosperity a pox on the planet.

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.

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