Static made it hard to hear the voice on the other end, but I soon recognized it as that of my friend Henny-Penny, the erstwhile found of The Holy Order of The Sky Is Falling, now a leading global warming skeptic. "Where are you" I asked when I reached her late last week.
H-P: In Doha, Qatar, at the U.N. Conference on Climate Change, also known as The Scaremongers' Ball. And, believe me, the delegates are having a ball, chatting one another up furiously as they try to put together a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 which expires at the end of this month.
ME: Isn't it the treaty that didn't get a single vote in the U.S. Senate?
H-P: Yes, and it's good thing, for it would have tied us -- but not China and India -- to various "greenhouse gas" emissions reductions that would have hurt our economy. They were based on unproved scientific theories, as is the hoped-for new treaty.
ME: What about that conference in Copenhagen in 1997 that got pledges from industrialized nations for $30 billion to go to the so-called developing world?
H-P: That's expiring, too, and the pledges weren't mandatory. No telling who has paid.
ME: Aren't there delegates from about 200 countries? How do they feel about all this?
H-P: Most of them are employees of their governments, posted to the U.N. Their job is to get more money out of the process for their countries. That's what these conferences are all about. They last a week or so. The delegates get free air travel, free accommodations, free meals and lots of time to gab and have fun.
ME: Don't they all believe that global warming is leading to disaster?
H-P: Many do. If , for example, you live on a low-lying island in the ocean and you have bought the scaremongers' theory, you would be scared stiff your island would be awash in a few years.
ME: Many scientists seem convinced that the phenomenon is getting worse by the year.
H-P: Yes, but there are plenty of skeptics among them. While there has been a moderate uptick in temperature over several decades, it is by no means certain that it is human-made and will continue for ever and ever. Scientists who look for a cause have hit on human consumption of fossil fuels. After all, if they are right, humans behavior can change, so the problem can be fixed.
They then create computer models to "prove" their theory. You begin a computer program with assumptions, using whatever data you have. When a dire prediction pops out, the scientists says "Aha, this is the way it will be," then speaks at a conference, writes a paper, gives interviews, is widely quoted. Before we know it, believer scientists claim that the theory is "settled science."
It's not, but the environmentalists love it, for their philosophy, just under the surface and disguised as saving trees, rare birds and animals, is the belief that human beings are wasteful, lead materialistic lives, produce too many children and must be made to have a simpler -- read "lower" -- standard of living. So, if all the Sturm und Drang results in reduced use of fossil fuels and a shrinking economy, the greater good will have been served. So they think.
ME: What about the street demonstrations outside the conference hall?
H-P: These were orderly. The most popular sign read, "CLIMATE JUSTICE!" Translated, it means, "Don't write, just send money." Most of the demonstrators were Qataris or from neighboring low-lying Gulf countries. They have succumbed to the siren song of the scaremongers and really believe they will be doomed without a lot of outside aid to mitigate the rising sea level.
ME: Where is Barack Obama on all of this?
H-P: He hasn't made any public statements, but the U.S. delegates are all his appointees. And, he must be a climate doomsday believer because he has waged war steadily on oil, gas and coal production while, on the other hand, subsidizing failing solar companies.
ME: And you say you're having a good time?
H-P: Yes, because most of what goes on here is blather. These delegates weren't able to achieve their goals in Copenhagen in 2009, Cancun in 2010 and Durban last year. If they run true to form here, I'll go home happy, knowing that my former THOOTSIF Pontiff, Al Gore, will be disappointed.
Mr. Hannaford first met Henny-Penny when she believed the sky was falling and stopped laying eggs for weeks. She has since had an epiphany.