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Dominic Lawson: The Copenhagen farce is glad tidings for all

The Sunday Times: After two weeks of increasingly ill-tempered negotiations, one of the European delegates at the Copenhagen summit “to save the planet” had clearly reached breaking point; or perhaps it was the ingratitude of the people he was trying to save that caused this negotiator to tell the BBC’s science correspondent, Susan Watts, that millions of Africans now “deserve” to be incinerated.

Watts was reporting a conversation she had had with an unnamed “European negotiator” after South Africa decided to join the quartet of America, India, China and Brazil in putting its name to a statement rejecting any binding emissions targets, and thus comprehensively sabotaging the entire conference. “South Africa has signed up to this!” the delegate told Watts. “They’re going to fry — and they’ll deserve it.”

One’s heart does not warm to anyone expressing such sentiments, but it’s easy to understand the fury that must have overcome this delegate. Here was Europe offering to impose vast costs on its own industries and peoples to save Africa from the alleged perils of runaway CO2 emissions — and that continent’s most powerful international voice says, thanks very much for the offer, but we think we can best provide health and prosperity to our people by being free to expand our economy exactly as you did in the industrial revolution, by using the wonderfully cheap forms of energy that nature affords: fossil fuels. After all, why is it that in the US many fewer people die as a result of very high temperatures than used to be the case a hundred years ago? Air-conditioning.

I know that for those thousands of “climate activists” who descended on Copenhagen, the idea of air-conditioning in African homes is something almost too revolting to contemplate; but then they have never understood that, for the real inhabitants of the developing world, the American example of achieving health and comfort through technology and subverting harsh nature for human ends is something to be emulated, not shunned.

The climate catastrophists naturally insist that if the developing countries — notably China and India — follow the American path, the planet will become uninhabitable. The most quoted expression of this came in 2004 from Britain’s chief government scientist then, Sir David King, when he said that if we did not act to reduce our carbon emissions, by the end of the century Antarctica would be the world’s only habitable continent.

Even if you share King’s view of what some of the climate models project in terms of anthropogenic CO2’s effect on global temperatures, his apparent belief that man is completely unable to adapt to a changing environment suggests that, whatever his claims as a scientist, he knows next to nothing about either human nature or history.

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