I thought I was done writing about my trip to the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen last December, but just when you think you’re out, as Mario Puzo once put it, they pull you back in. And what did my pulling in in this instance was the CBS report on the amazingly lavish junket (well, not so amazingly really) of Nancy Pelosi & Co. to the Scandinavian capital. I learned therein that seventeen, count ’em seventeen, Members (many with spouses and even children) went to the conference with their staffs, utilizing three military jets and booking 321 hotel nights at the posh Copenhagen Marriott. The carbon footprint of all that – assuming you believe in AGW, and most of them claim to – was immense. The amount of serious discussion that went on was practically nil.
And, yes, needless to say, there’s more, lots more, although LaPelosa has, also needless to say, resisted press inquiries about the details. She is now being bombarded, as she should be, by FOIA requests, so we will probably learn more anon. But the idea of all that absurd excess in the light of what is now going on in Haiti is particularly stomach-turning.
All this has brought my mind back to Copenhagen and to the Marriott where I met two of those Congressmen. I remember visiting the hotel well, because the security to get inside was some of the tightest I had ever seen. With climate scientist Tom Harris, I walked the equivalent of several blocks past the hotel in the freezing wind and snow to a security tent where we were told we had to enter. They checked everything… well, not our undershorts – maybe they would have a couple of weeks later… until we were allowed into the inner sanctum of the hotel where the lobby and corridors were patrolled by the local SWAT team in bullet proof vests. They were dodging waiters pushing room service trolleys laden with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The hotel, I was told, was filled with more world leaders than a special meeting of the UN General Assembly, most of them from the Third World and eager to feed at the climate trough. We were there to interview Cong. Sensenbrenner who was indeed waiting for us and seemed to be all business when I talked to him. The man was, and I assume is, outraged by the cap-and-trade legislation from a business perspective – and undoubtedly correctly – but I was more interested in the misuse of science – something that has, in my view, even greater implications.
It was only minutes later that I ran into Charlie Rangel in the hotel gift shop. You may have seen my brief interview on PJTV. But I would like to take a second to amplify the story of our interaction. I first noticed Rangel when I was half way out the front door of the hotel. For some reason I had turned backwards toward the gift shop – maybe the way the door revolved – and there was the Congressman from New York. For a second I couldn’t believe my eyes. What was he doing there? But of course that was only for a second. For I realized that where there was a boondoggle to be had, Charlie would be there.
He was wearing an elegant topcoat that had Armani or Versace written all over it and was peering into a case of what I knew to be expensive jewelry. This was the Marriott, in Copenhagen, after all. Nothing cheap there. The locals had even told me they crossed over into Sweden just for an inexpensive lunch. But Rangel had his head down close to the jewels, contemplating. I pointed him out to Tom Harris, but the scientist – a Canadian- didn’t know who the Congressman was. (I liked Harris for that). When I explained, it was Harris who suggested I interview him. I knew instantly he was correct and walked back into the hotel, through the door of the gift shop and up to Rangel, greeting him with a big smile. He started to search my face to see if he recognized me, but before he made a decision, I asked him for an interview. The strategy worked because his vanity got the better of him, momentarily overcoming the natural wariness of a politician under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Rangel might have been a little tipsy also, but I couldn’t be sure.
Anway, it didn’t last long. By the time I asked him what he thought of the Climategate revelations, the man knew he was in the wrong place and was looking for the gift shop door. He quickly told me that AGW was “settled science” and bolted. This was a man who obviously knew about as much about climate science as he did about ethics, probably less because science wasn’t about to kick him out of office or cost him substantial sums of money at this point. As he disappeared into the hotel I had the sense he was remonstrating with himself for being such an idiot as to talk with me. Well, that’s what happens when you’re out of the country. The terrain shifts and you’re off your game.
Nevertheless, I had my interview, paltry as it was. Truth to tell, I had always liked Charlie, still do, in the way you like certain characters in the Godfather movies, speaking of Puzo. He comes right out of that world. At least you know where you are with that type. And they are good to their friends. When it’s to their advantage, anyway.
In a way, that’s what Copenhagen was about and why it was such a signal event. Everyone was playing a role. I doubt if a single person in the city changed their mind about anything, certainly not anything remotely to do with climate. It was just a game with no purposes other than spending money or trying to extort some – or posturing.
I saw a lot of the latter, but never so clearly as when I ran into a journalist acquaintance on the street – the kind of person about whom you wonder what he is doing here half way across the world and then you realize of course he’s here – how could he not be? The man is an editor of a well known left-wing publication – no, I won’t name him, but he is familiar to some who are reading this – and he greeted me with the words “What’re you doing here? Trying to destroy the world?” He said that with a jocular tone, but it was easy to tell he meant it in the way you use a joke to let loose on your enemy while pretending you’re just being funny. He wanted me to know he thought I wanted to destroy the world because I didn’t believe in AGW. And he wanted me to feel guilty about it. Though no genius, this man is intelligent and he knows better, but he couldn’t control himself. He wanted me to bleed. In Copenhagen, we weren’t in the land of nuance, even liberal nuance, which isn’t genuine nuance anyway.
I was with a couple of people from a British libertarian think tank and for a moment the four of us stood there awkwardly in front of a freezing Metro station, not saying anything. I was in my own way pretty angry with the editor but had decided not to react. I didn’t want to give him the pleasure of responding to his snotty insult, so I ignored it. I also felt it was useless to tell him what I really thought – that he, not I, was the “Enemy of the Earth,” swallowing, as he did, the whole AGW charade that was sucking the air out of true environmental issues as simple and crucial as clean water. I knew the man had no chance of hearing me. He was a True Believer par excellence.
Meanwhile, on a far more significant front, Chris Horner has finally received the first round of documents from his FOIA request against NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space. It’s going to make fascinating reading. Already available at the link is this piquant email from the NYT’s Andrew Revkin to James Hansen, regarding the temperature data stations being used: i never, til today, visited http://www.surfacestations.org and found it quite amazing. if our stations are that shoddy, what’s it like in Mongolia?
Not very politically correct of Mr. Revkin to insult Mongolia like that, but I take his point.