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Moudakis Cartoon

Misplaced priorities are on full display in Paris for the next ten days at the climate conference known as COP-21 (“Conference of the Parties”). Joel Kotkin makes note of the hysteria in evidence among climate activists fostered by political opportunists, economic illiteracy and fraudulent climate research. Of course, climate alarmism offers handsome rewards for politician-cronyists and rent-seeking corporatists. With that seemingly in mind, President Barack Obama is playing the role of opportunist-in-chief, claiming that climate change is the biggest threat to U.S. security while blithely asserting that the climate is responsible for the growing danger from terrorism. Here is Kotkin on such tenuous claims:

… this reflects the growing tendency among climate change activists to promote their cause with sometimes questionable assertions. Generally level-headed accounts, such as in the Economist and in harder-edge publications like the Daily Telegraph, have demonstrated that many claims of climate change activists have already been disproven or are somewhat exaggerated.

Somewhat exaggerated” is an understatement, given the scandals that have erupted in the climate research community, the miserable predictive record of carbon forcing models, and the questionable practices employed by NASA and NOAA researchers in adjusting surface temperature data (see below for links). When it comes to climate activism, the Orwellian aspect of Groupthink is palpable:

Rather than address possible shortcomings in their models, climate change activists increasingly tend to discredit critics as dishonest and tools of the oil companies. There is even a move to subject skeptics to criminal prosecution for deceiving the public.

This is thoroughly contrary to the spirit of scientific inquiry, to say nothing of free speech. As if to parody their questionable approach to an issue of science, climate-change devotees have come out in full force to attack the excellent Matt Ridley, a sure sign that they find his message threatening to the power of their mantra. Ridley and Benny Peiser have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week entitled “Your Complete Guide to the Climate Debate” (should be ungated for now). The authors discuss the weakness of the scientific case for anthropomorphic global warming (AGW); the fact that they use findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make this critique must be particularly galling to the alarmists. Ridley and Peisner cover the correspondingly flimsy case for draconian environmental policies to deal with the perceived threat of AGW. Also, they emphasize the regressive nature of the demands made by the environmental left, who are either ignorant or unfazed by the following truths:

… there are a billion people with no grid electricity whose lives could be radically improved—and whose ability to cope with the effects of weather and climate change could be greatly enhanced—with the access to the concentrated power of coal, gas or oil that the rich world enjoys. Aid for such projects has already been constrained by Western institutions in the interest of not putting the climate at risk. So climate policy is hurting the poor.

Finally, Ridley and Peisner explain the economic incentives that are likely to undermine any meaningful international agreement in Paris. Less developed countries have been asked to reduce their carbon emissions, which they can ill afford, and to agree to a verification framework. Those parties might agree if they view the framework as sufficiently easy to game (and it will be), and if they are compensated handsomely by the developed world. The latter will represent an insurmountable political challenge for the U.S. and other developed countries, who are already attempting to promulgate costly new restrictions on carbon emissions.

Concerned about the loss of industrial competitiveness, the Obama administration is demanding an international transparency-and-review mechanism that can verify whether voluntary pledges are met by all countries. Developing countries, however, oppose any outside body reviewing their energy and industrial activities and carbon-dioxide emissions on the grounds that such efforts would violate their sovereignty.

… China, India and the ‘Like-Minded Developing Countries’ group are countering Western pressure by demanding a legally binding compensation package of $100 billion a year of dedicated climate funds, as promised by President Obama at the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

However, developing nations are only too aware that the $100 billion per annum funding pledge is never going to materialize, not least because the U.S. Congress would never agree to such an astronomical wealth transfer. This failure to deliver is inevitable, but it will give developing nations the perfect excuse not to comply with their own national pledges.

These conflicting positions may mean that the strongest point of accord at the Paris conference will be to meet again down the road.

Expect an agreement that is sufficiently vague and noncommittal for all countries to sign and claim victory. Such an agreement will also have to camouflage deep and unbridgeable divisions while ensuring that all countries are liberated from legally binding targets a la Kyoto.

This morning, an apparently sleepy and deluded President Obama spoke at the Paris conference before heading back to the U.S. He insisted again that the agreement he expects to come out of Paris will be a “powerful rebuke” to terrorists. Yeah, that’ll show ’em! Even a feeble agreement will be trumpeted as a great victory by the conference parties; Obama and the Left will attempt to wield it as a political cudgel, a brave accomplishment if it succeeds in any way, and a vehicle for blame if it is blocked by the principled opponents of climate alarmism. The media will play along without considering scientific evidence running contrary to the hysterical global warming narrative. Meanwhile, the frailty of the agreement will represent something of a win for humanity.

Here are some links to previous posts on this topic from Sacred Cow Chips:

Climate Negotiators To Discuss Economic Cannibalism

A Cooked Up Climate Consensus

Fitting Data To Models At NOAA

Carbon Farce Meets Negative Forcings

Subsidized Waste: The Renewable Irony

Manipulating Temperatures, People & Policy

Record Hot Baloney

Alluring Apocalypse Keeps Failing To Materialize

The Stench of Green Desperation

Cut CO2, But What About the Environment?

Live Long and Prosper With Fossil Fuels

Divesting of Human Well-Being