During December 1-12, 10,000 delegates from around the world met in Poznan, Poland, for the latest fiesta of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was to come up with a successor to the ill-fated Kyoto treaty. Alas, the conference heard thousands of words, read dozens of papers and spewed untold tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere from the conferees' flights, but there was no thunderous announcement of the birth of Kyoto II.
For the inside word, we called Ms. Henny-Penny, founder and recording secretary of The Holy Order of The Sky is Falling. She had just returned to the barnyard from Poland.
"Brrr, it's cold here," she said. "While you were away," I noted, "an ice storm left thousands of New Englanders without electricity; New Orleans had eight inches of snow. It even snowed in the hills above Malibu in southern California. What do you think of that?"
"It's just as our Pontiff, Al Gore, has said all climate change is caused by our profligate ways, burning fossil fuels and consuming far too much of everything."
"Funny," I replied. "Not too long ago you and your IPCC friends were preaching that temperatures would continue to climb, all the ice would melt and the coasts and low islands would be flooded. Now, the National Climatic Data Center says 2008 will turn out to be our coldest year since 1997. And astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas, of Harvard and the Smithsonian Institution, says that solar variability ("sun spots") more than CO2 affects global temperatures."
"She must be another of those deniers," Ms. H-P retorted. The Pontiff says they are to be ignored. The evidence is right there in our computers."
"The IPCC's scary warnings are based on 22 computer-generated models and the IPPC admits they can't be validated. So how can we believe the dire claims about global warming? Why Piers Corbyn, an astrophysicist with the Imperial College, London, a long-range forecaster, wrote to the British Parliament recently that 'Global warming is over and Global Warming Theory has failed. There is no evidence that CO2 drives world temperatures or any consequent climate change' Sounds pretty authoritative to me..
"You remind me of Chicken Little," she huffed. "When I declared the sky was falling, she said she could see no evidence of it. Another denier. How can 10,000 UN scientists be wrong and that one man right?"
"Well," I said, "many of those UN friends of yours work for governments whose policy is to swallow the global warming argument in the hope that it reduces economic output of the most productive countries. And others are living off government grants that support global warming.
"Besides, Mr. Corbyn is not alone. Just a year ago, more than 400 scientists -- including some who had participated in the IPCC -- challenged the so-called 'consensus' about global warming.
"So, what happened in Poznan? Did you and your friends get the new treaty to replace Kyoto?"
"Well, not exactly. It needs some more work. I'm sure we'll work it out at the next meeting in the spring. By then there will be a friendlier administration in Washington. Carol Browner, the new czarina of environmental policy in the White House, will surely understand the need for cutting CO2 emissions. Governor Schwarzenegger of California understands it. His new policy, if and when it takes effect, will stop that state's economy in its tracks. And, of course, our Pontiff has declared that we must go to renewable energy sources completely within 10 years. All of us at THOOTSIF agree with him."
"Solar and wind energy provide, at most, three percent of our energy," I said. "How are you going to get us to 100 percent in 10 years?"
"The Pontiff will ask President Obama and the leaders in Congress to pass a bill requiring it. That will do the trick here. Now, if only we could do something about the surplus population in Africa and Asia. Perhaps that cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe will spread…"
I could hear her wings flapping as she said, "I've got to run; I'm about to lay an egg."
Mr. Hannaford writes from Northern California, which is experiencing colder than normal temperatures for this time of year.
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