As the climate-change theory crumbles, expect its supporters to be more vocal in its defence, more insistent that the science is ironclad. Like the cultish followers of any faddish religion when it nears the end of its fashionableness, they will proclaim their views even more vociferously and denounce more forcefully all those who disagree. But increasingly, their warnings of impending doom and their character attacks on their opponents will be performed before empty houses, as in Rio.
Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace’s executive director, called last week’s United Nations eco-conference in Rio de Janeiro an “epic failure.”
The Rio 20 conference (so named because the first big global-warming conference was held at the same Brazilian resort 20 years ago) produced nothing that could be called a success — not even a qualified one.
Few UN conferences ever produce much of worth, anyway. But at the very least they can usually come up with a final communique that all the participants can point to to show their trip wasn’t wasted.
You might remember the UN’s green confab in Copenhagen in December 2009. There, world leaders, led by rookie U.S. President Barack Obama, extended their meeting by a day and pulled an all-nighter to work out a consensus draft promising to limit the worldwide temperature rise to no more than two degrees Celsius over the next century.
The Copenhagen declaration was meaningless. No one at the meeting had the slightest clue how they would go about keeping global thermometers from going up. But at least early the next morning they could all emerge from the boardroom, refasten their cuffs, tighten their ties and pose for the obligatory group photo.
Rio didn’t even manage that kind of phony accord.
Oh, sure, there was a final statement re-upping the world governments’ commitment to work together to achieve “sustainable development” and avoid climate catastrophe. But no one’s heart was in it.
With many countries facing imminent economic catastrophe, what the temperature will be on the third Tuesday of October 2079 was the last thing on most leaders’ minds.
Most world leaders didn’t attend, unlike the original conference in 1992. Obama didn’t go, nor did German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went, so did Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and Cuba’s Raul Castro, all to denounce the West and to call for “environmental justice.”
You could sense the air — the hot air — has come out of the global-warming balloon.
Newspapers and networks that once sent legions of reporters and editors to these gatherings and sent back breathless daily stories about the noble, scientifically unimpeachable efforts to save the Earth from Armageddon, this time contented themselves with rerunning wire service copy.
To be sure, there were still tens of thousands of passionate True Believers in attendance — Occupy movement types for the environment — to chant and protest and hector delegates.
The Montreal Gazette ran a column by one such zealot, Leehi Yona, a Quebec college student who claimed she spent most of the conference apologizing for being from Canada, home of the oilsands and a Conservative government that has withdrawn from the Kyoto protocol. “I am greeted with pity … (and) ashamed to call myself a Canadian.”
Undoubtedly some of the lack of interest in Rio 20 was the result of the worldwide economic crisis, now lingering into its third year.
But mostly the wind has come out of the environmentalists’ sails because the science isn’t so settled as it once seemed. Perhaps the earth isn’t warming as much or as quickly as once feared, and to the extent it is maybe it’s the sun and not man-made carbon emissions that is the cause.
As the climate-change theory crumbles, expect its supporters to be more vocal in its defence, more insistent that the science is ironclad. Like the cultish followers of any faddish religion when it nears the end of its fashionableness, they will proclaim their views even more vociferously and denounce more forcefully all those who disagree.
But increasingly, their warnings of impending doom and their character attacks on their opponents will be performed before empty houses, as in Rio.