The Public Policy

Deflating Copenhagen

For Ms. Henny-Penny, the news couldn't be worse.

By 11.18.09

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There must be something really wrong, I thought. Henny-Penny, founder and recording secretary of The Holy Order of The Sky is Falling, never calls at night and it was now 10 p.m. "It's a calamity," She squawked. "They've decided not to pass a climate change treaty at Copenhagen next month. The sky is going to collapse by the end of the year," she moaned. I did my best to calm her:

Us: Now settle back on your nest and take a deep breath. So those leaders at the APEC conference in Singapore saw reality and postponed their treaty. China and India weren't about to cut their carbon emissions way back, and without them a treaty wouldn't be worth anything.

Ms. H-P: But there won't be anything to stop global warming now. Within a few months the sky will have fallen so far that the other hens and I will be laying fried eggs.

Us: If this calamity is so imminent, what will you do about it?

Ms. H-P: I'm going to ask our Pontiff, Al Gore, to issue a Pontifical Bull.

Us: I thought that's what he'd been doing for the last 20 years or so. 

Ms. H-P: You're not taking this seriously.

Us: I take global warming fear-mongering very seriously. There are two kinds of scientists supporting the notion that the world is getting warmer, that it will get a lot worse and it's all caused by industrial society. One kind is made up of scientists who genuinely believe that the readings of average ground level temperatures are a reliable guide for basing computer models. The other kind is made up of people on the payrolls of organizations dedicated to the politics of global warming. By politics I mean the belief that humans are ruining the planet and must be made to ratchet down their living standards and have a lot fewer children. But cheer up, I have some good climate news.

Ms. H-P: I don't know what could be good about melting icebergs.

Us: The Pacific Research Institute, a think tank, has released its annual "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," based on 2008 figures. They wrote that "the data show that 2008 was the coolest year since 2000, and there has been no discernible warming for the last decade, after two decades of steady warming between 1978 and 1998." You'll be interested to know that they also report that "Arctic sea levels rebounded form the all-time modern low observed in 2007." 

Ms. H-P: They're probably financed by some coal mining company.

Us: Far from it. Their supporters are individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses that believe in finding market-oriented solutions to policy problems. 

Ms. H-P: That may be, but it's unfair to call scientists worried about global warming "alarmists."

Us: Let me give you an example. John Holdren, President Obama's Science Czar, is a leading cheerleader for the global warming theory, but back in 1971 he was predicting a new ice age that would be caused by such human-caused phenomena as air pollution, agricultural dust, jet exhaust and decertification. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The calamity is the same, but three decades ago it was going to be caused by global cooling; now it's global warming. 

Ms. H-P: There's still hope that something good will come out of Copenhagen next month. When the leaders made their announcement the other day they said they expect the conference to reach a "politically binding" agreement.

Us: If you believe that, you can believe that a good fairy is going to deliver you a golden egg. That statement of Obama et al. is just talk, just as the Bali conference was two years ago and this one will be in Copenhagen. 

Ms. H-P: If our leaders can't see that the sky is falling, I may stay home from that conference.

Us: Now, that's a good idea. Think of all the carbon emissions you'll save. Good night. 

(Mr. Hannaford writes from the Northern California coast, which has had another cool year this year.)

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About the Author
Peter Hannaford was closely associated with the late President Reagan for a number of years. He is a member of the board of the Committee on the Present Danger. His latest book is “Presidential Retreats.”