However, even before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) got formally underway in Denmark on December 7, it had become obvious that wheels were coming off the UN's global-warming bandwagon. Negotiators in Copenhagen had been following what is known in UN parlance as the "Bali roadmap," a reference to the plan for a Kyoto replacement agreed upon at the 2007 UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
But the road from Bali has been bumpy and filled with gaping potholes. After two years of haggling, major issues remained unresolved, and by mid November, with the Copenhagen summit only three weeks away, President Obama was acknowledging that time had run out and hopes for a binding treaty would have to wait until the 2010 Climate Conference in Mexico City. Nevertheless, he agreed to make an appearance at Copenhagen to help the process along.
As negotiations entered the second week at Copenhagen's Bella Center, a cloud of pessimism hung over the conference site. News stories and editorials highlighted the clashes between developed and developing countries and the still-raging conflicts over emission targets, funding, monitoring, and enforcement. Inside Bella Center, much of the talk among delegates, journalists, and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) centered on whether Obama could "save" the agreement. The World Wildlife Fund, one of the behemoths of the Big Green lobby, signaled its messianic view of the new President's mission in its guide to Copenhagen, "The New Climate Deal," with a woodcut print image of Obama labeled "The New HOPE."
Although he had postponed his appearance at Copenhagen from December 8 to December 18 in order to provide a final boost to the beleaguered talks at the culmination of the conference, Obama's international "star power" - even with its recent Nobel Prize supercharge - couldn't deliver the goods. After landing in Denmark at 8:19 a.m. on Friday, December 18, President Obama was expected to address the conference within the hour. But the morning wore on with no sign of the savior, and many in the massive media pool delivered minute-by-minute reports featuring rumors and speculations as to where he was and what he was doing. With little else to report on, many journalists also engaged in remote psychoanalysis, offering their opinions of the supposed significance of the facial expressions and body language of various politicians and UN officials.
Finally, at 11:32 a.m., President Obama appeared at the podium of the Plenary Session hall to deliver a brief, anti-climactic speech that left most of the faithful -disappointed.
Reiterating the dire claims of other summit participants, he asserted that "climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people." He continued:
This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. That much we know.... There is no time to waste.
"I'm confident," Obama said, "that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation." He also confirmed the pledge made earlier in the conference by his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that the United States would "engage in a global effort to mobilize $100 billion" annually in financing for climate-related aid to developing countries.
But this clearly fell short of the grand scheme envisioned by the apostles of doom who demanded a "legally binding" document with emission reduction targets that supposedly would hold additional global warming to less than two degrees centigrade. The Guardian, one of Europe's loudest sirens of climate alarmism, and usually favorable toward Obama, noted: "For all his usual fine words, he seemed to [be] admitting defeat on the prospects for a meaningful deal, and there were no new announcements."
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez described Obama's speech as "ridiculous," and called Obama's initial offer of a $10 billion fund for poor countries "a joke."
Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, stated: "Obama has deeply disappointed not just those listening to his speech at the UN talks - he has disappointed the whole world."
Tim Jones, a spokesman for the World Development Movement, said of Obama's speech: "The President said he came to act, but showed little evidence of doing so.... If America has really made its choice, it is a choice that condemns hundreds of millions of people to climate-change disaster."
Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace, U.S., declared: "The world was waiting for the spirit of yes we can, but all we got was my way or the highway. He [Obama] crossed an ocean to tell the world he has nothing new to offer, then he said take it or leave it.... He now risks being branded as the man who killed Copenhagen."
Throughout the day reports and rumors circulated concerning Obama's whereabouts and activities. Newsweek's Daniel Stone reported in his conference blog at 5:51 p.m. (Copenhagen time) on a secret meeting that had been "crashed" by Obama ("Obama Dramatically Interrupts Meeting, Negotiators Reach Final Agreement")
This is Stone's rendition of the event:
Late in the afternoon on Friday, with the clock ticking down to zero, a rather dramatic scene unfolded that surprised even several top leaders at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. In a secret meeting between Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian heads of state, the door swung open revealing President Obama, who hadn't been invited but had arrived to crash the meeting. Several diplomats protested the intrusion, but Obama simply informed them he wouldn't accept them negotiating in secret. He sat down and started talking.
Before the Newsweek account of the drama had hit the Internet, a Brazilian television correspondent sitting across the table from your reporter had given THE NEW AMERICAN essentially the same story, which he had just received from the Brazilian Environmental Minister who had come directly from the meeting. Brazil's President Lula da Silva and others at the meeting were reportedly angered by Obama's invasion and commandeering of the meeting
"The result of that discussion," said Stone, "is the outcome of the Copenhagen climate talks - a political agreement that gets something on paper but lacks several of the components that many had expected to be finalized at the meeting." Exactly what had been committed to paper and who had agreed to it remained the subject of rumor and confusion for hours to come. Indeed, calling it a "political agreement" at all was a stretch, since every few moments a new report surfaced of a head of state or political negotiator who was denouncing the text, as well as the process that produced it, as unacceptable. Most vociferous in decrying the newly announced accord was Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, chief climate negotiator for the 130-nation bloc of developing nations known as the G77 (named for the Group of 77 nations that founded it).
The secret dealings by the major powers and the announcement of a "global" agreement restarted recriminations from the previous week by Di-Aping and other G77 voices over the leaked secret "Danish text" of a Copenhagen agreement that had been stitched together by Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States, and a few others. Di-Aping condemned the Danish text in the harshest of terms - calling it a "suicide pact" and "climate fascism" that would mean "certain death for Africa."
Now the final agreement text was coming in for similar treatment. For several hours rumors continued to swirl around Bella Center - some alleging President Obama was still on site engaged in further negotiations, others reporting that he had been spotted slipping out via a rear door. Finally, at around 9:30 p.m., the live webcast monitors in the Media Center, where several thousand journalists were ensconced, as well as monitors throughout the entire Bella Center, began streaming President Obama's long-delayed statement and press conference Q & A.
Attempting to put the best spin on the accord, Obama called the document a "meaningful and unprecedented" agreement, a "first step" that would mark "the beginning of a new era of international action."
Condemnations were not slow in coming. "Copenhagen has been an abject failure," declared Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. "We are disgusted by the failure of rich countries to commit to the emissions reductions they know are needed, especially the U.S., which is the world's largest historical emitter of greenhouse gasses.... This is effectively a death sentence for many in some of the world's most vulnerable countries."
"Climategate" and the Economy Overtake Warming Hysteria
But the momentum for a global agreement on climate change, propelled by a decades-long campaign of pseudo-science and fright-peddling, has crested; millions of people who had previously bought in to the seemingly universal appeals for urgent global action to save the planet are now cooling to global-warming hysteria. A series of opinion polls over the past year - by Pew Research and Rasmussen - indicate that concern over human-caused climate change has taken a nosedive. This supposed "dire threat to the planet," it seems, rates dead last among voters on a list of top political and economic concerns.
One major reason for the plummeting poll numbers on climate-change anxiety is economic reality. To the average person, the real-estate crash, the economic recession, and unemployment are far more immediate and real threats than the theoretical perils posed by a possible increase of a degree or two in global temperature over the course of the next century. Additionally, more studies have begun coming out tallying up the enormous price tag - in jobs lost, businesses killed, and the increased costs for consumer goods - we could expect under various "carbon tax" or "carbon cap and trade" schemes, and of plans for massive transfers of wealth from developed to developing nations to pay a so-called "carbon debt." Various UN officials and agencies have put the price tag not in terms of billions, tens of billions, or even hundreds of billions of dollars, but in terms of tens of trillions of dollars.
Understandably, Obama administration officials - and U.S. congressmen who embrace the UN alarmist agenda - do not mention these figures when discussing climate-change legislation with American taxpayers.
The urgency that has been used to propel various proposals allegedly aimed at fighting global warming is apparently less and less convincing to more and more people. Why? In addition to the cooling effect of economic reality, the public is becoming more aware of the false claims of an overwhelming "scientific consensus" concerning anthropogenic (man-made) global warming, or AGW. Over the past several years, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists has become more outspoken and organized in challenging the outlandish claims of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the well-funded clique of institutions that claims to constitute the authoritative voice of climate science.
Although Al Gore and other warming alarmists assert that only "flat earth" believers doubt there is a climate-change "crisis," more and more scientists have been going public to criticize the abuse of science to promote a global political agenda that would have horrendous economic, social, and political costs. Over the last several years, more than 31,000 U.S. scientists have signed on to the petition started by Dr. Arthur Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and the late Dr. Frederick Seitz, past president of the National Academy of Sciences. The petition urges the U.S. government to reject the Kyoto Protocol and the kinds of harmful policies proposed in Copenhagen as contrary to sound science and incompatible with limited government and human liberty.
This phenomenon is not restricted only to the United States; hundreds of eminent scientists, including many leading climate scientists - in Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, Latin America, and Israel - are vigorously challenging the extravagant claims made by the IPCC and other warming alarmists. It seems that virtually every major nightmare scenario associated with catastrophic climate change is based upon "facts" and "research" that are highly suspect, and that in many cases have been proven to be wildly exaggerated or outright fraudulent. Rising sea levels, melting ice caps, retreating glaciers, more frequent and more intense hurricanes, dying polar bears, extinction of species, more severe droughts and floods, disappearing islands and coastlands - the "scientists" making these and other dire predictions are skating on very thin, or even non-existent, ice. They are engaging in fantasy, politics, and propaganda, not science, say realists with impressive scientific credentials, such as Dr. Richard Lindzen of MIT; Dr. Fred Singer, founder of the National Weather Bureau's Satellite Service Center; Dr. Vincent Gray, IPCC Expert Reviewer; Dr. John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel; Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, director of the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute and International Arctic Research Center; and, literally, thousands more.
The release of highly incriminating e-mail messages from Britain's East Anglia University Climatic Research Unit (EAU-CRU) in mid-November could not have come at a worse time for the Copenhagen planners, nor at a better time for AGW skeptics, who for years have been playing against a stacked deck. The resulting scandal, now popularly known as "Climate-gate," ( see here, here, and here) threatens to demolish what remains of the IPCC's unjustified reputation as the foremost authoritative source on all things related to climate.
The notorious e-mails and other data from EAU-CRU, one of the IPCC's premier centers for climate computer modeling, have exposed the IPCC's dirty secrets to a global audience. They have exposed the corruption of science that appears to be systemic in the IPCC and many of its sister institutions. As we have reported previously - in these pages and online - the Climategate e-mails show that some of the IPCC's most famous climate alarmists colluded to hide evidence that global temperatures had been declining, not increasing, over the past decade; prevent fellow scientists with opposing viewpoints from being published; discredit and defame scientists with whom they disagreed; destroy evidence that had been legally requested under the Freedom of Information Act; and other abuses.
Shortly after the appearance of these incriminating e-mails, a Rasmussen poll released on December 3 reported that most Americans believe there is "significant disagreement within the scientific community" over both the extent of global warming and the degree to which humans are responsible. The poll also found that 59 percent of Americans say it's "at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming." Thirty-five percent say it's "Very Likely." These numbers are all the more astounding when one takes into consideration the fact that Climategate has been virtually ignored and covered up by most of the major media. The New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and the rest of the media chorus line that have been flogging the global-warming apocalypse for the past decade have gone to incredible lengths to keep a lid on the Climategate scandal. But they have not been able to contain it; Climate-gate has gone viral through the blogosphere and through talk radio and independent media.
However, as Alex Newman reports in more detail in a companion report from Copenhagen for The New American, Climategate was not only a "non-issue" throughout the Copenhagen conference for the conference officials, but was also ignored by the huge global media pool, which seemed perfectly content to self-censor and condemn as heresy anything that would challenge the sacred global-warming dogma.
Common Sense and Facts on the Ground
In addition to the recent Climategate revelations and the increasing numbers of scientists who are publicly challenging the IPCC's claims on consensus, an additional factor has been responsible for boosting AGW skepticism: Mother Nature. It seems she has been very uncooperative with the IPCC climate-change alarmists. Over the past few years she has repeatedly foiled the predictions of an ever-warming planet, delivering instead record-setting cold waves, snowstorms, and blizzards. So many global-warming marches, speeches, and demonstrations around the world featuring appearances by Al Gore have been canceled or severely crippled by severe wintry weather that the phenomenon has become known as "the Al Gore effect."
Although Gore attempted to surprise everyone in Copenhagen with an unannounced visit (after previously canceling his planned trip to the summit), Mother Nature was not upstaged. Shortly after Gore's arrival, the white stuff started falling, the first snow in Copenhagen on December 17, reportedly, in 14 years. Back home in the United States, the eastern seaboard was being blanketed with snow to such an extent that President Obama and the congressional delegation led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi announced that they had to leave Copenhagen earlier than anticipated because of "weather constraints in Washington."
Data from NASA and other climate data/research centers (see here, here, here, and here) now confirm what many people had already grasped through experience: Our temperatures have been declining, not increasing, and our winters have been getting more severe over the past decade. Scientists who hold that the sun, not man, is the main driver of the Earth's climate believe that we may headed for a continued period of reduced solar activity, and consequently, a cooler planet. If that turns out to be the case, we will prove ourselves doubly foolish if we have allowed ourselves to be stampeded into letting government misspend a huge portion of scarce resources that could be invested (by the private sector) in homes, businesses, energy production, education, healthcare, and a million other important areas.
"Whiff of Totalitarianism"
Your reporter waited in line in the freezing cold with thousands of other journalists, delegates, and NGO representatives outside of the Bella Center for more than six hours on December 14, and two and a half hours on December 15. We had all registered weeks or months in advance and had provided the UN with copies of our I.D.s, press badges, and passports. They said they had been preparing for this summit for two years. Yet their registration and credentialing system was a picture of mass chaos, confusion, and ineptitude.
Private organizations, corporations, and political parties regularly handle events much larger and just as complex. Virtually everyone I spoke with in line for COP15 would qualify as a liberal-left internationalist and United Nations loyalist; some even described themselves as socialists. Yet this was too much even for them. Many began chanting angrily: "UN, Let Us In!" and "UN, Shame on You!" Several times it appeared the large crowd might be approaching the riot stage.
I seized the opportunity. "Isn't it rich," I said to those about me, "the UN can't even run a simple registration line but they want to control and ration carbon dioxide for every person on the planet!" That got a round of laughs from everyone within earshot. Several people commented to the effect that they hadn't really thought of it that way before. One British journalist said, "Yeah, that's kind of a scary thought when you think of it in those terms."
It is precisely "those terms" in which the ongoing drive for a global climate agreement must be viewed. Although the Copenhagen Accord is a vague and non-binding declaration, it would be wrong to suggest that the push for a global regime to tax and regulate CO2 has been permanently defeated. If the U.S. Congress approves any of the funding pledged by the Obama administration, you can be sure it will be used by the UN - along with that already being provided by the European Union and others - for additional propaganda and bribery to eventually "seal the deal."
When Lord Christopher Monckton, former science advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, stated in his now-famous Minnesota speech last October that the real aim of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen was "to impose a communist world government on the world," he was not engaging in hyperbole. That is precisely what the architects of the original Climate Convention intended when they launched it at the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Those architects included former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Canadian socialist billionaire Maurice Strong, and Willy Brandt, the former West German Chancellor and longtime leader of the Socialist International. The Climate Convention was designed as a major part of the even more grandiose plan to come out of the Rio summit known as Agenda 21, which lays out in minute detail a program for regulation and control of the entire planet, including everything on, under, and above the land and seas - and all human activity.
Lord Monckton is not the only one who recognizes the emerging contours of something darkly sinister in all of this. In a column for the London Telegraph on December 19, entitled "There'll be nowhere to run from the new world government," Janet Daley commented on the bully process of "global" thinking on display at Copenhagen, and asked:
Was this to be regarded as the emergence of world government? And would it have powers of policing and enforcement that would supersede the authority of elected national governments? In effect, this was the infamous "democratic deficit" of the European Union elevated on to a planetary scale. And if the EU model is anything to go by, then the agencies of global authority will involve vast tracts of power being handed to unelected officials. Forget the relatively petty irritations of Eurobureaucracy: welcome to the era of Earth-bureaucracy, when there will be literally nowhere to run.
The word "global" has taken on sacred connotations. Any action taken in its name must be inherently virtuous, whereas the decisions of individual countries are necessarily "narrow" and self-serving.... There is a whiff of totalitarianism about this new theology, in which the risks are described in such cosmic terms that everything else must give way.
Precisely so, and that is why cap-and-trade legislation (the Waxman-Markey version that has passed the House and the Kerry version that still awaits Senate action) must be defeated in Congress, along with all efforts to fund the UN global-warming lobby under the guise of helping poor nations adapt to catastrophic climate change.