While the UN issues scare reports about global warming, other reports keep stacking up that these alarmists are full of hot air. The earth’s climate is immensely complex. The UN’s “consensus” process is immensely opaque. The UN’s accountability for anything it does is close to zero. What we really need is not UN-brokered, state-imposed restrictions on all productive activity (for which carbon rationing is a pretty close proxy), but the freedom to invent and adapt to whatever might lie ahead.
Thirty years ago the fear was climate “cooling,” with worries that a glacier would be back over Manhattan’s Central Park in no time. Now we are told the climate is warming so fast that we must re-tool almost all human activity pronto, or live out our days surrounded by underwater cities awash in the skeletons of dead polar bears. Actually, whether the climate is warming or cooling, or whether carbon dioxide emitted by mankind has anything to do with it at all, is far from clear.
But what is clear is that there’s lots of dictatorial power to be gained by any outfit — whether the UN, any national government, or some global Ministry of Air — that ends up in charge of rationing the right to give off carbon dioxide. For pals of such a crew, there’s lots of money to be made by trading in those rights. And in the fancy circles where multilateral bureaucrats and big business sup together, there seems to be almost no interest in signs that the great global warming scare could be the millennial equivalent of the idea that the sun revolves around the earth.
Last week I went to a black tie dinner in Manhattan, in which the theme was “green.” The main event was the webcast appearance on two huge screens, like some oracle from on high, of UN climate guru Rajendra Pachauri — whose agenda and credentials for this role ought to evoke dismay and probing questions, not the applause he got. More on that in my column this week for Forbes.com , “Dinner With the Green Glitterati.”
I don’t doubt that among those now counting their carbon emissions are people of good intentions. I can see good reasons for trying to cut down on good old-fashioned crud (which carbon dioxide is not) — which is something that democracies tend to do of their own accord, in answer to popular demand, as soon as they can afford it.
But as the cult of carbon sweeps the banquet halls of the high and mighty, complete with awards, prizes, back-scratching speeches and plans to turn this stuff into a global carbon-emissions-rationing regime (in which the U.S. would be expected to comply with its promises, and others would not), I do wonder how much in the way of unnecessary sacrifice — let’s say that again, quite possibly pointless, useless and unnecessary sacrifice — these climate demi-gods might impose on the world before they’re done. I also wonder who among the well-connected is going to get awfully rich in the process.