Hot air at the U.N. summit.
By JAMES TARANTO
September 24, 2014 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Columnist Eugene Robinson was impressed by plans for the U.N. "climate summit," which he previewed yesterday: "More than 100 world leaders will assemble Tuesday at the United Nations to discuss what they are already doing, and further steps they might take, to address what majorities in many developed nations see as the gravest and most urgent problem facing the planet."
Or maybe he wasn't. The next sentence: "No concrete action will be taken." That's in contrast to the 1992 "Earth summit," where it "seemed inevitable" that a "binding treaty" would result. It turned out to be as inevitable as Hillary Clinton in 2008. "Does this make the U.N. Climate Summit a waste of time?" Robinson asks. "Not if you believe, as I do, that public awareness and pressure are the best hope for effective climate action."
Such is the life of a columnist. You have to produce verbiage on schedule, even when you have nothing to say.
Hot enough for you? Associated Press
That goes for politicians too. President Obama appeared at the summit, where he asserted that "the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate" is the "one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other."
"The alarm bells keep ringing," he claimed. "Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them." Yes, we can!
He quoted "one of America's governors" (it's Jay Inslee of Washington) as saying: "We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it."
What bunk. "The impact of climate change"--that is, weather, including severe weather--is part of life on Earth and always has been. Global warmism has been around for at least a generation already, as evidenced by this Los Angeles Times headline from 1989: "Global Warming Is Expected to Be the Hot Issue of 1990s." That was a generation ago, and in an earlier century to boot.
"Today," the president announced, "I'm here personally, as the leader of the world's largest economy and its second largest emitter, to say that we have begun to do something about it." And he lectured the largest emitter (and second-largest economy): "Just a few minutes ago, I met with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, and reiterated my belief that as the two largest economies and emitters in the world, we have a special responsibility to lead. That's what big nations have to do."
But as Robinson points out, the Chinese, along with the Indians and Russians, the No. 3 and 4 emitters, "say they have scheduling conflicts that make it impossible to attend" the summit. On the other hand, the president of Seychelles made it. He must've burned a lot of fossil fuel to get to New York.
Robinson is encouraged by Sunday's "mass mobilization" in New York, in which "a crowd calculated by organizers at more than 300,000 took part in the biggest march ever against climate change." To put things in perspective, 300,000 is less than 0.1% of the U.S. population and about 3.5% of the New York population. Many of the mobilizers, like the Seychelles president, burned fossil fuels to get to the city from out of town. [the 300,000 figure was exaggerated by #PeoplesClimate organizers actually around 100,000-125,000].
Last week we wrote about the planned march, which we characterized as just another gathering of assorted lefties. Hanna Kozlowska confirmed our expectations in a piece for the New York Times's "Op-Talk" blog titled "The Climate Movement Is About Much More Than Just Climate": "The march carried many messages from many individuals and groups--as many as 1,300--from 'Moms Clean Air Force' to activists from the AIDS awareness group Act Up." That, too, brings back memories from the 1990s.
Kozlowska suggests the summit's agenda was more red than green:
Naomi Klein, a journalist, activist and author of the books "No Logo" and "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," spoke at St. Peter's Church in Midtown Manhattan about her new book, "This Changes Everything."
It's easier to imagine turning down the temperature of the sun, Ms. Klein said, than changing the rules governing our economy.
But "these are the choices that we have before us, this is why climate change changes everything," Ms. Klein said.
In her book, Ms. Klein argues that the root cause of climate change is capitalism, emphasizing that if no profound and radical changes to the system are made, a climate catastrophe is inevitable. "The bottom line is what matters here: Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war," Ms. Klein writes. "Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it's not the laws of nature."PJMedia's "Zombie" attended a satellite rally in Oakland, Calif., where he snapped dozens of photos of communist, socialist and vegetarian signs and placards. Examples: "CAPITALI$M IS DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT"; "CAPITALISM IS KILLING THE PLANET: FIGHT FOR A SOCIALIST FUTURE!"; "Another Big, Fat, straight, Midwestern, White, Man For WORLD REVOLUTION."
Our personal favorite: "DAIRY & MEAT: IT'S WHAT'S CAUSING THE HEAT." That's a great example of the cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The woman carrying the sign apparently doesn't realize that meat gets hot only when you cook it.
There's quite a disconnect between the "climate movement's" attitude toward capitalism and the president's hectoring of the absent Chinese. Unlike in 1989, China today is one of the few countries in the world, and the only large one, whose regime is avowedly communist.
To be sure, one of the reasons communism has survived in China is because that regime has permitted elements of capitalism while continuing to practice political repression. According to one prominent climate-march participant, political repression is just what America needs, as Climate Depot's Marc Morano reports:
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. lamented that there were no current laws on the books to punish global warming skeptics. "I wish there were a law you could punish them with. I don't think there is a law that you can punish those politicians under," Kennedy told Climate Depot in a one-on-one interview during the People's Climate March. The interiew was conducted for the upcoming documentary Climate Hustle. . . .
Kennedy saved his most venomous comments for the Koch Brothers. . . . "I think it's treason. Do I think the Koch Brothers are treasonous, yes I do," Kennedy explained.
"They are enjoying making themselves billionaires by impoverishing the rest of us. Do I think they should be in jail, I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at the Hague with all the other war criminals," Kennedy declared.We're pretty sure treason is not a crime under international law, but at any rate Kennedy's comments are more in the spirit of the tanks at Tiananmen Square a quarter-century ago than the protesters.
All this climate chatter has had an effect on American public opinion, but only on one side of the partisan divide. "A recent survey found that Democrats believe the threat posed by climate change is greater than the threat posed by either al Qaeda or the Islamic State,"
The Pew Research Center/USA Today survey, conducted between Aug. 20 and 24, shows that 68 percent of Democrats said global climate change is a "major threat" to the U.S. while 67 percent chose al Qaida and 65 percent chose ISIS as a major threat to the country.
On the Republican side, 80 percent said al Qaida was the major threat and 78 percent chose ISIS, while only 25 percent said global climate change was a major threat.
Among Independents, 69 percent chose al Qaeda as the major threat, 63 percent chose ISIS, and only 44 percent said climate change.
Among Democrats, global climate change topped the list of greatest threats to the U.S. But among Republicans and Independents, it placed last on a list of nine "major threats."But that's belied even by the words of President Obama. He spoke again this morning at the U.N. Security Council, a much higher-profile venue than the climate summit, where he mentioned climate only once in passing--and that was to note the futility of his own efforts:
"The science tells us we can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every other nation, by every major power." He gave as much attention to, of all subjects, Ferguson, Mo.
He spent a lot more time on "the cancer of violent extremism that has ravaged so many parts of the Muslim world." And although he has--like President Bush before him--made much of his efforts at coalition-building, he did not insist that the support of every other nation, every major power, is necessary.
Of course the Obama administration is imposing destructive regulations in the name of "climate change" despite his acknowledgment of their futility. But at least the president shows some sign of recognizing where the real threats lie.