How the Post-Soviet Left <br>Latched Onto the Climate <br>For Crusade on Capitalism
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The opening of the Paris conference on climate change will be the occasion for the customary lamentations about the imminent demise of life on Earth if we do not pull up our socks as a species and reduce carbon emission levels, and thus avoid the toasting of the world. The adduced scientific evidence does not justify any such state of alarm.
Every sane and informed person in the world is concerned about pollution and demands vigilance about any clear trends of climate change and any convincing evidence that human behavior influences the climate. Because the Copenhagen climate Conference of 2009 had promised agreement on imposition of dramatic measures to reduce fossil fuel use and resulting carbon emissions, thus avoiding apprehended rises in world temperature, and broke up in acrimonious farce and recrimination, the Paris conference has been more carefully and less ambitiously prepared.
At Copenhagen, the demand arose from developing countries that the economically advanced countries had permanently impaired the under-developed countries and that the $100 billion compensation fund that President Obama had promised to raise for the less-advanced countries was completely inadequate, mere reparations instead of a serious response to a moral debt that could only be quantified in trillions of dollars. (Mr. Obama had no takers, including his own Congress, when his Democrats controlled it, for one cent of such payments.)
Mr. Obama was unable even to get an interview with the Chinese prime minister, a historic first in lack of access for a U.S. president, as the Chinese, by far the greatest carbon emitter and polluter of all countries, cheekily set themselves at the head of the G-77 countries who with cupped hands and in stentorian voice, demanded immense monetary compensation for the sins of the carbon emitters, also led by themselves.
The world’s temperature has risen approximately one half of a centigrade degree, or almost one Fahrenheit degree, in 35 years. There has been minimal global warming for 18 years, though carbon emissions in the world have steadily increased throughout that period. It is indisputable that the world has been warmer several times in its history than it is now, so whatever impact man may have on it, the world’s temperature is evidently subject to fluctuations for other reasons.
There is also legitimate disagreement about the consequences of such warming as might occur. Recent research at the University of Sussex, widely recognized for its expertise in this field, indicates that warming up to 3.5 centigrade degrees from where we are now would have no appreciable impact on anything, except a positive impact where increased volumes of carbon dioxide increase arable area and make crops more drought-resistant.
Also there has been a good deal of reciprocally corroborating research in different countries by recognized experts that uniformly demonstrates that the world’s temperature is much less sensitive than had long been feared to increased carbon use. Antarctic polar ice is thickening and world water levels are not rising. Apocalyptic statements of imminent consequences of not reducing carbon use have been fairly thoroughly debunked.
Not only is the evidence of the effects of increased carbon use unclear, but the economic consequences of discouragement of carbon use are very clear and very harmful to the most vulnerable countries. China and India, the two most populous countries and the first and third carbon emitters, are eagerly pursuing economic growth, which is the only method for pulling the many hundreds of millions of desperately poor people in those countries upwards out of poverty, and they are not going to change policy to accommodate the militant ecologists of the West.
They don’t attach the slightest credence to the alarmist comments of the more strident ecologists, other than as an excuse for demanding monetary compensation for how the economically leading countries have disadvantaged them. The International Energy Agency estimates that the underdeveloped countries as a group, will emit 70 per cent of the carbon output of the world in the next 15 years, and will be responsible for all of the increase in carbon use over that time.
President Obama has called the Paris conference a “historic turning point,” but it isn’t, and claimed (in February) that climate change was a greater problem than terrorism. He and John Kerry (secretary of state), have several times called it the world’s greatest problem. This is bunk. The pope stated that we are “at the edge of suicide.” If so, it is not for climatic reasons. (The Holy See has placated the greens, but emphasized that “The Church cannot take the place of scientists and politicians.”)
Many in those groups are more impetuous in their assertions. And everyone seriously involved with the Paris conference knows that it is not really going to accomplish much. As Lord Ridley pointed out in the Wall Street Journal on November 28, the NGO spokespeople attending at Paris will scream like banshees of imminent disaster, for fear of having their budgets cut, despite contrary evidence and although it is now clear that decarbonization is much more harmful to the world than increased carbon emissions.
Alternate sources of energy, such as wind and solar, are hideously more expensive and much less productive, a luxury no country can really afford, and certainly not the poorer countries. But the conference will be hamstrung. Countries will volunteer their own individual targets for reduction of carbon emissions, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDC’s.
The INDC of China only predicts that such emissions will meet their peak by 2030, while, for all his militancy, President Obama’s U.S. INDC will be a reduction of between 26% and 28% in ten years, yet the outline of hoped-for gains, which the Congress will not endorse, and for years Obama will only see as a private citizen, only calls for half the volume reduction of emissions necessary to meet his pledge. The American INDC is a scam.
Even the Obama administration is demanding an involuntary international verification mechanism (much more rigorous than what it settled for in the rather more urgent matter of Iranian nuclear military development), and the elimination of the so-called “firewall” of separate arrangements for the developed and under-developed (or developing) countries. The developing countries, led by China and India, refuse, unless they are solemnly promised a $100 billion a year climate fund, as Obama imprudently pledged at Copenhagen.
This remains completely out of the question and furnished the justification in advance for the developing countries to fall short of their INDC targets, which will provide the cover for the developed countries to do the same. Everyone will solemnly announce ambitious INDCs, but there will be no verification, ample excuse for non-compliance for everyone and this charade will continue to the next portentous and verbose conference. Meanwhile, the many thousands of non-paying delegates will enjoy the delights of Paris.
Whatever Canada does is irrelevant to the world, as it is not a serious offender and only provides about 2.3% of the world’s economic activity and less than one per cent of anticipated increases in carbon emissions over the next 15 years, in a total that there is no evidence will have any negative repercussions anyway. The new government has a very capable environment minister in Catherine McKenna, and doubtless she and Justin Trudeau will acquit themselves well, as long as they don’t really imagine that much will result from the Paris meeting.
What seems to have happened is that the international far left, having been decisively routed with the collapse of the Soviet Union and of international communism, has attached itself to the environmental movement, usurped the leading positions in it from the bird-watching, butterfly-collecting, and conservation organizations, and is carrying on its anti-capitalist and anarchist crusade behind the cover of eco-Armageddonism.
While this has been rather skillfully executed, many office-holders and aspirants, including Mr. Obama, have used dire environmental scenarios to distract their electorates from their own policy failures, much as Arab powers have long diluted anger at despotic misgovernment by harping on the red herring of Israel.
email@example.com. From the National Post