UN Sponsored Sad Waste of Energy,Passion, and Money

UN Sponsored Sad Waste of Energy,Passion, and Money

January 03, 2010
Originally published in The Richmond Times-Dispatch

President Barack Obama has declared that the outcome of the recent
United Nations climate confab in Copenhagen—a/k/a the 15th Conference
of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change—was
“unprecedented” and “meaningful.” I was in Copenhagen, and I can assure
you that the results were mundane and insignificant, quite contrary to
the president’s spin.

For two years, this conference was
considered the deadline for a legally binding, multilateral climate
change mitigation treaty, but the agreement reached in Copenhagen was
nonbinding, and was further watered down by the international
community’s decision to merely “take note” of its existence, rather
than adopt it.

Indeed, this is what happens at every single
one of these glamorous climate ceremonies. Celebrities strut (for
example, the Backstreet Boys lent their inconsiderable fame to the
cause), Al Gore alarms (warned Gore, “We have only seven years”), and
negotiators, after much haggling, agree to meet again.

In
fact, these jet-setting climate diplomats are no closer to an agreement
than they were at the first Conference of the Parties, back in 1995 in
Berlin. Moreover, history suggests that they will never achieve a
diplomatic breakthrough.

According to the International
Energy Agency, curing the climate of its supposed ills would cost $45
trillion, and there is simply no precedent for international
burden-sharing of this magnitude, short of war.

As an event
planner, the U.N. proved itself to be wholly incompetent. It gave out
45,000 invitations to the climate conference, but the Bella Center—the
cavernous convention space that hosted COP-15—can accommodate only 15,000.

Incredibly,
the U.N. failed to foresee the ensuing disaster, so 30,000 came to
Copenhagen just so they could wait outside in the freezing cold.
Imagine all that carbon that was needlessly spewed in the course of
their travel to and from Copenhagen! It was all for nothing, because
the U.N. can’t count.

Remember, the American taxpayer is on the hook for almost 20 percent of this idiocy.

Thankfully,
I arrived in Copenhagen early, which afforded me almost uninhibited
access to the Bella Center during the time I was there.

Inside,
it was a zoo. Thousands of U.N.-credentialed “observers” (I was one)
milled about, trying to make sense of it all. They were young, mostly
employed by the nonprofit sector in developed countries, and they
earnestly believed that something needs to be done about global warming.

I
was impressed by their passion, if not by their alarmism. I’m no
scientist, but I can read a thermometer, and global temperatures
haven’t increased since 1998, despite steady increases in global
greenhouse gas emissions.

A decade ago, the “scientific
consensus” was that temperatures increase in lockstep with increases in
emissions. Well, that didn’t occur. The only thing that heated up was
the doomsday rhetoric.

The young idealists inside the Bella Center have swallowed this alarmist rhetoric hook, line, and sinker, which is a shame.

During
my time in Copenhagen, I couldn’t help but think: What if these people
cared this much about problems that are hurting human beings right now?
Like homelessness? Or mental illness? Or breast cancer?

For a decade, temperatures on Earth have remained the same, but human beings still suffer much the same as they always have.

But that’s an aside.

Deep
in the recesses of the Bella Center, diplomatic negotiations proceeded
apace. U.N.-sponsored climate confabs long have been forums for
kleptocrats from poor countries to browbeat rich countries for aid, but
the pandering got out of hand in Copenhagen. The big theme was “climate
reparations,” the unseemly insinuation being that emissions are morally
equivalent to slavery.

Incredibly, the U.S. seemed warm to
the idea. The highlight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech
to the conference was a promise to work together with other developed
countries to deliver $100 billion a year in climate aid by 2020.

In
light of our federal government’s profligate spending, Clinton’s
promise could lead to a delightful scenario whereby America borrows
money from China in order to fatten the pockets of corrupt regimes in
the developing world. What a deal!

As I waited for my plane
to leave Copenhagen, I was struck by the airport’s vast, upscale
shopping mall. Hermes, Ralph Lauren, Dior—all the luxury brands were
there. This monument to megaconsumption of the sort that supposedly
hurts the environment co-existed uneasily with the advertisements along
the wall for “Hopenhagen,” the temporary title the city adopted during COP-15.

The
irony of this juxtaposition was no doubt lost on the green glitterati.
After all, gas-guzzling limousines were imported into Denmark from
neighboring countries in order to accommodate all the big-wigs.
Planetary saviors deserve nothing less.