December 8, 2010
Cancun's Climate CrockBy Brian Sussman
It began with a prayer to the Mayan moon goddess, and it has quickly devolved into a junk science circus.
Delegates to the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico were greeted by the Convention's Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, who prayed to the goddess Ixchel.
Calling Ixchel "the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving," Figueres prayed, "May she inspire you -- because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools."
Figueres continued, "Excellencies, the goddess Ixchel would probably tell you that a tapestry is the result of the skilful [sic] interlacing of many threads. I am convinced that twenty years from now, we will admire the policy tapestry that you have woven together and think back fondly to Cancun and the inspiration of Ixchel."
By the way, Ixchel is a goddess of fertility who is often depicted wearing a headdress entwined with a serpent. Claws substitute her hands and feet. Creepy.
The opening prayer to a pagan god set the tone to this year's climate confab, as representatives from 193 countries have been seen soaking up the 80-degree Mexican weather by day and sucking up the adult beverages bearing tiny umbrellas at night. The U.K.'s energy and environment secretary, Chris Huhne, was especially excited to finally arrive -- he had been delayed in London because of the some of the worst English winter weather in decades.
And then there has been the hot air emanating from the mouths of bloviating environmentalists and policymakers who are trying to maintain their relevance, after a year in which their claims of human-caused global warming have fallen flat.
Even the usually in-the-tank-on-global-warming New York Times observed:
My, what a difference a year makes. Certainly those damning e-mails leaked from a computer server belonging to the once-esteemed Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. didn't help matters. Those communiqués revealed well-known climate researchers speaking in baseless terms about their critics, discussing clever ways to sidestep skeptical colleagues of man-made climate change, devising plans to freeze opponents out of peer-reviewed journals, and systematically manipulating the earth's temperature record. The e-mails became known as "Climategate" and led to the title of my hard-hitting book.
Like with carnies hawking tickets to a sideshow, the predictions made at this year's U.N. climate conference were more outrageous than ever. They included:
The assertions are a crock. For example, since 1850 -- the beginning of the Industrial Revolution -- the earth's average surface temperature has risen only 0.7 degrees Celsius (just a bit more than one degree Fahrenheit). Point-seven degrees Celsius in 160 years -- that's all the warming planet earth has experienced, and this minuscule temperature increase coincided with the proliferation of the train, car, truck, and even the lawnmower and leaf blower. Oh, and here's a pill that's tough for the global whiners to swallow: the bulk of this warming occurred before 1940.
The U.N.'s new predicted 6.4-degree-Celsius rise in temperature surpasses any of their previous predictions. It's likely that the prognosis is the product of a political activist with a Ph.D. who got a turn to play genius with a government computer model.
As for the sea level rise, Al Gore's been showing maps of a similar predicted deluge for several years. If Gore was so confident of the increase, why did he purchase a multimillion-dollar bayside condo in San Francisco? According to the maps, his pad will be swamped. Truth is, the oceans have been steadily rising since the last Ice Age. Take your index finger and place it as close as you can to your thumb, without the two touching. That's how much the oceans rise each year. Over the next ninety years, the rise will be no more than several inches, not over six feet.
And the submersion of Tuvalu and Maldives? Their surrounding waters show no measurable signs of rising. The problem is the islands of Maldives are relatively flat coral atolls. Since tourism was first introduced to the nation in 1972, ninety plush resorts have been built, with locally mined coral being the primary aggregate for construction. Digging up coral on small islands to build large hotels and conference centers is as stupid as sucking the air out of a lifeboat to breathe. The mining has severely compromised the atolls, creating the impression that the islands are sinking.
Likewise, Tuvalu's problem is not climate change. Tuvalu's mess is that the country was never meant for modern habitation. There is no fresh water available -- only what can be cached from rain. Much of the population on the main island uses a lagoon for its bathing and toilet facilities. The tiny nation ships its garbage to landfills in Fiji and New Zealand. Tuvalu is a tropical island mess being run by slick politicians using global warming for a shakedown operation. In a 2007 speech at the United Nations, the Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Tavau Teii, said that major greenhouse polluters should compensate Tuvalu for the impacts of climate change. "We are seeking new funding arrangements to protect us from the impacts of climate change ... we believe that the major greenhouse polluters should pay for the impacts they are causing."
Then there's the conference's claim that the solution to climate change is rationing. This is the most troubling assertion of all, as we have an administration running the White House who believes such a plan is worthy. Note President Obama's director of science and technology policy, John Holdren, who has written, "A massive campaign must be launched in North America to restore a high-quality environment and to de-develop the United States ... This effort must be largely political."
Then there is Hillary Clinton, who, during her Senate confirmation hearings for Secretary of State, said, " ... climate change is an unambiguous security threat. At the extreme, it threatens our very existence."
In addition, one year ago, Lisa Jackson, the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), issued a statement declaring that "the current and projected concentrations of [carbon dioxide] ... threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations." The EPA's solution is using less fossil fuel.
Indeed, the 2009 House Energy bill (passed by the House, but never by the Senate) calls for an 80-percent reduction in CO2 by 2050. By then, the United States will have -- according to Census figures -- 100 million more residents. Achieving an 80-percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 will spell the end of the coal industry (which supplies energy to 50 percent of our homes), the offshoring of our entire manufacturing sector, and the death of the gasoline-powered automobile. If the Senate had passed similar legislation, Obama would have signed it into law in a heartbeat, and we'd be on our way to...rationing!
And the prediction of food shortages and price increases? Actually, if the temperatures were to warm a couple degrees, the amount of available land for farming would increase dramatically. For example, in Canada, Russia, and China, agriculture would benefit from longer growing seasons. Other benefits would be the expansion of forests and a decrease in heating fuel costs. Food costs will rise if a cap-and-trade scheme becomes law; the increased cost of diesel fuel alone would force transportation costs to rise dramatically in the agricultural sector.
The flaming-hot rhetoric down in Cancun is making this conference more of a howler than ever. And there are still several days of fun in the sun to go!
The global whiners can continue to make all the wild pronouncements they wish, but the fact is that they're losing the debate.
Brian Sussman is the author of Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes the Global Warming Scam and the host of "Sussman in the Morning" on KSFO radio in San Francisco.