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The Warming Faithful Gather in Copenhagen

The UN Climate Change Conference has the unmistakable feel of a religious gathering. (Bruce Bawer is in Copenhagen covering the conference for PJM and PJTV. See also Roger L. Simon: Climategate — Why Obama Switched His Copenhagen Itinerary and Roger Kimball: Providence Intervenes to Chastise Climate Change Fanatics and Save the World)

by
Bruce Bawer

Bio

December 7, 2009 - 12:18 am
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Well, here I am at the Vatican in Rome, where thousands of pilgrims from every corner of the earth crowd St. Peter’s Square, their eyes trained on the glorious basilica within which the College of Cardinals is gathering in secret conclave to settle the all-important question: Who will stand in the shoes of the fisherman?

Oops, sorry, I got a little confused there for a second. In fact I’ve just arrived in Copenhagen. But you’ll have to excuse my mistake, because it’s already clear that being here during the next few days is going to be very much like attending some kind of massive religious gathering. The faithful — over 16,000 strong — are here, of course, for the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference, a.k.a. COP15 (“COP” as in Conference of the Parties), at which they supposedly hope to achieve a provisional international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus rescue our beloved blue planet from the fate envisioned in any number of bad Roland Emmerich movies.

I say “supposedly” because at this point, lacking a polygraph, it’s hard to know for sure what any of these professional climate folks really think or believe or aspire to. The bombshell revelations of recent weeks, now known as Climategate, and explored so thoroughly and informatively on this website, should have shaken to the roots any true believer in the doctrine of man-made global warming owing to CO2 and other greenhouse gases. But so far there appear not to have been any major defections from the climate club — not that that’s really much of a surprise, because even before the dam burst, it was clear that this whole movement to place global warming at the heart of the international agenda wasn’t about responsible science but about politics, pure and simple. The plain fact is that after Communism disappeared in Europe, the Green movement arose to take its place as a counterforce to democratic capitalism — meaning that every crank and malcontent who previously would have been a Communist or fellow traveler now keeps busy ranting about the way in which capitalist societies, America above all, are brutally destroying the environment, greedily using up resources at rates a zillion times higher than people in developing countries. The global-warming cause is a subset of this — and to my mind it’s always seemed to be, for Europeans anyway, not only a means of elbowing the U.S. in the ribs, but also a convenient distraction, a way to avoid dealing with the continent’s real problem, namely Islamization, while still allowing oneself to posture as a serious, responsible-minded citizen.

But back to Climategate. Most of you who are reading this are likely up to speed — thanks more to PJ Media, I’m sure, than to the mainstream media, which have been giving the whole sorry business as short shrift as they dare. But for those of you who have been living in a cave for the last month (and if you have, hey, kudos to you for being so eco-conscious!), here’s a brief rundown: On November 19, some 4,000 purloined e-mails and other documents from servers at Britain’s University of East Anglia — home of the Climatic Research Unit, the global-warming movement’s Ground Zero — were posted online. These documents revealed that some of the scientists who have been most active in pushing the chief tenet of global warming — namely, that in recent years the earth has been heating up at an unnatural rate as a result of the release into the atmosphere of man-made greenhouse gases, chiefly CO2, and that drastic action is called for in order to prevent, well, drastic results — have been engaging in what a Wall Street Journal editorial called “concerted and coordinated efforts … to fit the data to their conclusions while attempting to silence and discredit their critics.” In other words, they’ve established a subculture in which destroying and fudging data, suppressing objective inquiry, and silencing legitimate dissent were routine. Among their concerns was that during the last decade or so, it seems — ahem — that the world hasn’t been getting warmer at all, but cooler, and that this inconvenient truth needed somehow to be … gotten rid of. Clive Crook, on his Atlantic blog, charged that “the closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me. The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. … This is pure George Orwell.”

It certainly is, but for the most part the mainstream media have labored overtime to dismiss the whole thing. Scientific American’s website ran a piece, “Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense,” that was one long sneer, equating global-warming skepticism with a belief in “ghosts, astrology, creationism, and homeopathy” and likening respectable scientist-critics of global-warming orthodoxy with conspiracy theorists who rant about Freemasons and Roswell aliens. Tom Zeller, Jr.’s article on the conference in Sunday’s New York Times opened with these eye-popping words: “With the scientific consensus more or less settled [my emphasis] that human activity … is contributing to a warmer and less hospitable planet …” What? Others, including the Economist, suggested that the e-mails simply reflect the way science is done in the real world, and that to think otherwise is naïve and idealistic.

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