As a reporter for The New American at the United Nations COP15 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, I did my best to also "read" the signals of the players, watching the visual cues, listening both to what was said and not said, in order to draw conclusions about the motives of those involved, the intent of the players, and the methods of the game. Here’s what I experienced.
Of the dignitaries present, a few elicited widespread praise from attendees. Venezuela’s Socialist President Hugo Chavez, who has forced foreign oil companies to give his government majority ownership positions and presided over the further impoverishment of an already poor people (the country is rationing water and power, ironic because of its vast oil reserves and water supplies), gave a speech that was a roof-raiser.
Before the speech, it was announced that Chavez did not merely represent Venezuela, he spoke on behalf of all nine nations that make up the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), which includes the communist dictatorship of Cuba. After he saluted fellow socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales in his introduction, applause erupted through the conference room. The applause erupted again and again when Chavez insisted that the planet lives under a (capitalist) "imperial global dictatorship," when he complained that the presented UN draft text to ameliorate climate change and redistribute wealth from rich countries to poor ones was not "democratic" — meaning the world’s countries or populaces should be able to vote how much to take from wealthy countries to give to poorer countries — and when he saluted the protesters outside, some of whom were carrying flags bearing the communist hammer and sickle.
He then proceeded to cite Karl Marx, while edifying the crowd with a story about a "scary" ghost called Capitalism, a ghost roaming the streets of Copenhagen and the halls of the conference. With these comments, of course, more roaring applause rose from national government representatives. Referring to the signs outside, he said, "Don’t change the climate, change the system!" — a chant he repeated as the conference participants clapped and clapped.
He went on huffily: "Capitalism, the destructive development model, is ending life, and it threatens to put a definitive end to the human species."
He specifically condemned the United States and the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, angrily denouncing the United States’ "little machine" to print dollars, and mocking U.S. efforts to save the banks and the "capitalist" system. (Of course, under true capitalism, the Federal Reserve would not be printing fiat money and causing financial bubbles and inflation and financial turmoil, and the federal government would not be bailing out banks. But no matter.) Chavez then recommended a book called How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth, by French author Herve Klempf. Citing the book, he then said rich people will not stop over-consuming until they are forced to step down the economic ladder.
Finally, he made a salutary call for the United States to stop consuming so many of the world’s resources — because we’re causing global warming — blasting the fact that the United States uses far more oil than China despite having only about one-fifth the population. Ironically, he then issued streams of statistics showing how much better life was in the "rich countries" (presumably, the evil capitalist ones) — longer life expectancy, lower infant death rates, etc. — before continuing to bash capitalism over and over and over again.
After calling on the rich capitalist countries to give the less-developed world an unspecified number of dollars because of the rich countries’ high levels of carbon-dioxide emissions, Chavez then insisted that socialism was the path to saving the planet, adding, "Capitalism is the road to hell, to the destruction of the Earth."
He proceeded to call the American "empire" a "menace." "History calls on us to unite and fight," he said. "If capitalism resists, we are obligated to battle against capitalism and open the path to the salvation of the human species." He called for all this in the name of Jesus Christ, and of equality and even humanism. Chavez then called on his audience to heed communist dictator Fidel Castro’s warning that humanity was in danger of extinction. "Let’s make of this Earth a heaven, a heaven of life and of peace, of brotherhood for all of humanity." After the speech, he got a standing ovation.
Many representatives of Western countries cheered him on, while the media dutifully wrote glowing reviews of his boisterous speech.
Zimbabwe’s murderous dictator Robert Mugabe, whose regime took his country from being one of the most prosperous in Africa to being financially destitute, with an annual inflation rate estimated at more than 500 quintillion percent, gave a similarly scathing assessment of "capitalist gods of carbon," earning respect and praise.
Socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales said that to save the planet, "We must end [the capitalist] economic model."
Anti-capitalist sentiment pervaded nearly every speech. A book written by Congolese President Denis Nguesso, distributed freely at the conference (at taxpayer expense), proclaimed on the back cover: "Global warming, chronic starvation and the decline of biodiversity are the result of an unrelenting forced march toward economic progress."
Also hot topics, pushed by China and others, were more international wealth redistribution and limits on global population. Some countries (especially Denmark) bent over backward to appease the purveyors of such sentiments, even reversing a previous position and embracing the notion of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.
Advocates of world governance, including billionaire heir David Rothschild, were likewise celebrated and handed the spotlight. And they were taken seriously too, unlike scientists, politicians, or journalists with serious questions about the climate alarmism.
At the other end of the popularity spectrum were the so-called climate skeptics. Their welcome wasn’t nearly so effusive. Filmmaker and journalist Phelim McAleer — who gained notoriety after debunking many of Al Gore’s claims in a documentary called Not Evil, Just Wrong — came to the conference one day dressed as polar bear in a futile attempt to get some answers; he was greeted by a cacophony of "boos."
He told The New American in a sit-down interview, "There I was thinking that the environmental movement was full of liberal, tolerant people, until you ask them something that goes off the script, ask them a genuine question." Relating a story of how he had doors slammed in his face and backs turned as he tried to get answers to questions about the validity of anthropogenic (human caused) global warming, he added that while he was at the conference attempting to give an interview, "They fired a missile at me which hit me on the eye." When McAleer asked a scientist at a press conference about Climategate, the recent scandal wherein the hacked e-mails of IPCC expert climatologists indicating that data had been manipulated to show warming were released, he was confronted by an armed UN security guard who threatened to have him kicked out.
Lord Monckton, the former science advisor to Margaret Thatcher who has led the discreditation of many of the claims of global-warming alarmists by highlighting alarmists’ statistical errors, and who firmly believes that human-caused global warming is nothing more than a ploy being used by globalists around the world to foist totalitarian global governance on the planet, told THE NEW AMERICAN that when he showed up at the conference with an Australian Senator, the police began to "manhandle" him. "I turned my back and walked away in the indicated direction — I wasn’t intending to cause any sort of obstruction or trouble — and as I turned away, once my back was fully turned, he walloped me very hard in the back with a gloved fist, and knocked me flying and knocked me out." He said the matter was being taken up by the Danish authorities, and wryly added, "I’m expecting that that officer will in due course receive promotion."
When a "skeptic" politician, one who has political stature, arrived at the conference, he was both snubbed and roundly condemned. Unlike the countless "environmentalist" groups who were given their own rooms for press conferences and other events, Republican U.S. Senator James Inhofe was forced to stand on a staircase to make his remarks. Many journalists could not even access his "press conference" owing to increased security that had been erected that day.
Inhofe told the assembled journalists, "We are not going to pass something like a cap-and-trade [plan in the United States Senate] because the votes just simply aren’t there." He also called man-made global-warming theories a "hoax" perpetrated by "Hollywood elites" and the UN: "I contend the consensus is not there, and it wasn’t there prior to Climategate."
Many of the journalists who attended his speech were taken aback and went on the offensive. "What do you tell the children who have to live in a nightmare world? What should we tell them about your country being a heroin addict on fossil fuel? Answer the question!" shouted one. But it was not just the media. Senator Inhofe’s statements and conclusions were roundly dismissed by nearly everyone at the conference that THE NEW AMERICAN interviewed — especially the delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives.
"With all due respect to Senator Inhofe, I disagree," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told THE NEW AMERICAN when asked about his comments on the chances for getting the climate-change agenda through the Senate, which Inhofe claimed were "zero."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also criticized Inhofe when asked about his statements, saying the "majority" of Senators "do believe in global warming." When asked about Climategate, he was among the first to admit to THE NEW AMERICAN that "clearly there is a controversy." "But," he quickly added, "it will pass."
Representative Charlie Rangel, the powerful chairman of the House committee that deals with taxation, also told THE NEW AMERICAN that Inhofe was in the "minority," as evidenced by House approval of the global-warming bill. "In the House, the people rule," he said, citing the body’s support as evidence that the Senate would follow through with similar legislation. (Of course, if the "people" really did "rule" in the House, the House’s climate bill would soon be overturned, if polls are to be believed. In a poll by CNN/Opinion Research released before the Copenhagen Conference, only 45 percent believed in anthropogenic global warming.)
When Rangel was asked about Climategate by THE NEW AMERICAN, he looked puzzled. After briefly explaining to him what it was, he responded: "No, no, no, we are just here to support the process." Then he turned away.
The message was clear: Contrary opinions are not welcome.
Politicians and Government
So little opposition was in evidence that "Climategate" was barely mentioned by anyone, except to minimize its importance (For an overview of Climategate, see William Jasper’s "Climate ‘Teacup Tempest’?" in the January 4, 2009 issue). National delegates from Africa to Europe refused to discuss the issue with THE NEW AMERICAN.
The head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, was briefly forced to address Climategate early on in the conference. "One can only surmise that those who have carried this out have obviously done it with a very clear intention to influence the process in Copenhagen," Pachauri said. Perhaps he did not know that the information had been leaked to the BBC months earlier, but that the pro-global-warming-alarmism BBC had sat on the information. "But I’m happy to observe that, barring a few isolated voices, people over here are totally convinced of the solidity of the findings we have in the IPCC 4th Assessment Report."
He said the "outstanding scientists" involved in the data manipulation and smear campaigns against opponents were being "unfairly targeted" and that, despite the fact that those same scientists contributed to the IPCC, there is no question about the validity of the report itself.
In addition to Climategate, another scandal that should have also erupted at the conference made virtually no impact. Revelations came out of Russia that the prestigious Hadley Center at the U.K. Met Office had been cherry-picking temperature data provided by Russian stations, using only the 25 percent of stations that showed warming while ignoring the rest. But the reaction to this controversy was similar to the response to Climategate: "The science is settled." It would have been understandable if the new Russian revelations brought the conference to a standstill, especially considering the fact that data from both the University of East Anglia, where Climategate originated, and Hadley were used in the compilation of the IPCC report being used to justify the entire summit and the alarmism behind it. But it was not to be. Only the Saudi Arabian delegation even mentioned Climategate, out of almost 200 countries present at the conference.
There were also tens of thousands of non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives, mostly government funded, filling the conference center with their cries and banners for "climate justice" and "fair, ambitious, and legally binding" treaties that limit development and promise wealth redistribution. They didn’t keep up with the latest climate developments either.
"Climate what?" said a spokesperson for Greenpeace when asked whether Climategate had impacted the conference. "I haven’t heard about it." You know, the leaked e-mails. "Oh, that one!" He explained that after the 2007 IPCC report, "Not even the world leaders question the science." When he was informed that the report had been partially based on information from the University of East Anglia, which had now been shown to be manipulated, he walked away.
Some politicians tried to defend limited aspects of global-warming alarmism, but without much success. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives spoke briefly with THE NEW AMERICAN regarding claims he made that the Maldives would soon be under water owing to raised sea levels caused by global warming, and the ridicule leveled against his claims by oceanographer and Stockholm University Professor Niklas Morner, who said sea levels were not rising unusually. Nasheed attacked Morner’s credibility, saying: "There are still people who don’t believe we landed on the moon," adding, "You know, when Galileo presented his theories he was killed by the pope." He accused Morner of not measuring sea levels properly all around the island and later said, "His attacks are not even worthy of a response." (Nasheed obviously didn’t know enough specifics to attack Morner’s methodologies — or even enough to know that his claim about a pope killing Galileo was untrue.)
Of course, Morner has been measuring ocean levels for over 40 years and is considered one of the foremost experts on the subject. "We must rely on the facts, and the facts don’t support the President," Morner has said. But along with the rest of the renowned scientists and experts who gathered for a skeptics’ conference across town in Copenhagen, he and his research were simply brushed aside.
Even the media was hush-hush about both the burgeoning climate-alarmist scandals and the position of climate skeptics in general. Fox News provided some coverage of the leaked e-mail and data controversy that showed scientists manipulating data, among other scandalous revelations such as refusing to cooperate with Freedom of Information Act requests and even illegally deleting data, and a reporter from the New York Times asked a few questions about Climategate early on in the conference. But for the most part, journalists from around the planet were either uncaring or uninformed when asked about Climategate.
Dozens of journalists responded similarly to queries by THE NEW AMERICAN: Either the leaked e-mails were no big deal, or the science was already settled, or they had not even heard of it. Besides Phelim McAleer, only one other journalist to our knowledge was actually providing any coverage of Climategate. Natalie Bougeard, from Radio Suisse Romande, a Swiss radio operation, interviewed the vice-president of the IPCC about Climategate. He told her that when climate alarmists used the word "trick" when talking about their data (the essence of one of the e-mails), they were being taken out of context and that the scandal did not undermine the alarmists’ climate science.
When the "trick" was explained to Bougeard by The New American (the scientists used a separate data set to "hide a decline" in temperatures, without telling anybody they had done so), she exclaimed, "Wow! I wish I had known that during the interview."
Climategate was the elephant in the room, and some journalists were not even permitted to mention it in their reporting. "It’s a phrase my editor doesn’t allow me to use," said a feminist journalist across the table in the media room, referring to Climategate. Similar statements were made by other reporters, too.
In fact, most of the reporters were alarmists themselves. Antonio Cerillo, an environmental journalist for the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia who has covered UN summits and global warming for about 20 years, told THE NEW AMERICAN that Climategate has barely received any mainstream media coverage in the Spanish press. "Probably 90 percent of the information [Spanish] people get about climate change comes from about 10 journalists," he said. Cerillo knew Climategate was a big deal, but said that it was likely not receiving any coverage because it contradicted everything the environmental journalists had been preaching for so long.
Some reporters were downright hostile. When mentioning the irony of the snow outside — which rarely arrives so early in Copenhagen — and the unusually cold temperatures across large swaths of Europe and the United States, the environmental editor for the Daily Mail overheard and sneered that there was a difference between climate and weather. Not much of a sense of humor, evidently.
A Revealing Investigation
Another important occurrence that cast doubt on the climate alarmism — the release of a report by the European Foundation listing 100 reasons why global warming is natural — also happened during the time the conference was going on, but its impact on the conference was exactly zero.
I added that fact to my overflowing investigative folder on the UN Climate Conference. And with that piece of news, I, like Edward Conlon in his role as cop, was ready to draw a conclusion as to what the activities of the players meant. But unlike Conlon, my conclusion is irrelevant to the lives of law-abiding Americans. Only a reader’s conclusion, and the actions taken by the reader after drawing a conclusion, are relevant.
So, what did you conclude?