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Treaty Trouble
UN Lowers Expectations for Next Week's Climate Talks

Next week, delegates from around the world will descend on New York City for yet another climate summit. These annual meetings have become more about bloviating than about making any progress on the devilishly tricky issue of crafting a coordinated international response to the immensely complicated threat of climate change. China, India, Australia, and Canada aren’t bothering to send their heads of state to the summit this year. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio will open discussion with a speech, which should tell you something about the state of play here. The United Nations, host of the talks, is hoping to steer focus away from crafting a binding global climate treaty this year, and in so doing is acknowledging the strategy’s dismal track record. The Hill reports:

“We are trying to discourage a negotiating dynamic, but rather a leadership dynamic, that we want to see leaders stepping up,” [UN assistant secretary-general for policy coordination Bob Orr] said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress. […]

“You can’t just superimpose leaders on a negotiation and expect things to come out much differently than they would have otherwise,” he said.

Climate change represents an enormous threat to humanity, but the sheer scope of it dwarfs our ability to model and understand it, and makes coming up with a GCT terribly difficult. This year’s discussions in New York are meant to prepare world leaders for next year’s make-or-break talks in Paris, which will hope to repair the damage done to the GCT movement in Copenhagen in 2009. But it’s hard to imagine any kind of binding and enforceable treaty coming out of either summit; if anything, we’ll see the environmental movement’s equivalent of the Kellogg-Briand pact.

The world’s capacity for entertaining Wilsonian dreams seems to be nearly exhausted these days. The surge of hope for transformative activity on a global scale has ebbed, as both national and international politics have become less hospitable for these kinds of strategies. Wilsonians are in retreat, and it’s hard to think of a starker example of that than these annual climate summits. Environmentalists need to change their tack, because the problem is altogether too serious to be wasting political capital on a GCT.

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  • Andrew Allison

    These annual meetings have become more about all-expenses paid boondoggles than anything else.
    While it’s certainly true that the sheer scope of climate change dwarfs our ability to model and understand it, it’s far from clear that “Climate change represents an enormous threat to humanity,” In fact, not only have increased atmospheric CO2 and the global warming of the planet through 1997 (when it ceased) had net beneficial effects, the problems caused by rising sea levels being more than offset by the greening of the planet, but humanity has survived several episodes of major climate change in the past quite handily, Given our manifest inability to model or understand climate change, we should perhaps quit trying to change the climate and start dealing with it.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “Climate change represents an enormous threat to humanity, but the sheer scope of it dwarfs our ability to model and understand it, and makes coming up with a GCT terribly difficult.”

    This is a lie, if there was any justice, all those so called scientists that altered or excluded their data to make it fit their belief in “Global Warming” would be in prison doing hard time for fraud. The fact is there has been no warming for the past 18 years, and the ice at the poles that the Warmists say should be melting or gone, has been increasing. The so called greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, has had no measurable effect on the climate. Not a single model put forward by these fraudsters has been even close to the actual temperatures (garbage in, garbage out). The geological record says that Ice Ages have been occurring every 100,000 years with inter-glacial warm periods lasting from 11,000 – 14,000 years for at least the past 1.5 million years. The present inter-glacial period is getting long in the tooth at 14,000 years, and a new Ice Age seems more likely given the actual historical evidence, rather than any “Global Warming” as the lying Warmists want everyone to believe.

  • Ritchie Emmons

    “Climate change” has become the term now that the warming part of “global warming” hasn’t panned out much the last 15+ years. But CC is still supposedly a result of the earth getting warmer (according to the “scientists”). Someone should go to the conference in NY and ask these clowns two basic questions: 1.) What is the average temperature of the earth? 2) What should the average temperature of the earth be? You notice that the alarmists never answer those questions? They either have no idea what the average temperature should be (if it *should* be anything), or they dare not give an answer because if we ever reached that temperature, the game would be up and their dreams of a govt run climate policy with massive bureaucracy and endless regulations would be grievously harmed.

    I hold WRM is very high regard, which is why it’s so disappointing to read “Climate change represents an enormous threat to humanity…” I can’t believe that the Professor has signed on so heartily to such quackery.

    • John Stephens

      There are certain things a man in WRM’s position is expected to say in public, if he hopes to keep that position.

    • DiogenesDespairs

      Climate change or no climate change, the real issue is whether we need government control of carbon dioxide, which would concentrate much more wealth and power in the hands of central governments and the politicians and bureaucrats who run them. Anyone considering that question needs to be aware of some crucial, verifiable facts – provided below with supporting citations – about human-generated carbon dioxide and its effect on global warming. I recommend following the links in the citations. Some of them are very educational.

      The fact is, there has been global warming, but the contribution of human-generated carbon dioxide is necessarily so minuscule as to be nearly undetectable. Here’s why:

      Carbon dioxide, considered the main vector for human-caused global warming, is some 0.038% of the atmosphere[1]- a trace gas. Water vapor varies from 0% to 4%[2], and should easily average 1% or more[3] near the Earth’s surface, where the greenhouse effect would be most important, and is about three times more effective[4] a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So water vapor is at least 25 times more prevalent and three times more effective; that makes it at least 75 times more important to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide[5]. The TOTAL contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect is therefore 0.013 or less. The total human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution has been estimated at about 25%[6]. So humans’ carbon dioxide greenhouse effect is a quarter of 0.013, works out to about 0.00325. Total warming of the Earth by the greenhouse effect is widely accepted as about 33 degrees Centigrade, raising average temperature to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. So the contribution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or under 0.1 degree Centigrade. Global warming over the last century is thought by many to be about 0.6 degrees Centigrade.

      But that’s only the beginning. We’ve had global warming for more than 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age, and there is evidence temperatures were actually somewhat warmer 9,000 years ago and again 4,500 to 8,000 years ago than they are today[7]. Whatever caused that, it was not human activity. It was not all those power plants and factories and SUVs being operated by Stone Age cavemen while chipping arrowheads out of bits of flint. Whatever the cause was, it melted the glaciers that in North America once extended south to Long Island and parts of New York City[8] into virtually complete disappearance (except for a few mountain remnants). That’s one big greenhouse effect! If we are still having global warming – and I suppose we could presume we are, given this 10,000 year history – it seems highly likely that it is still the overwhelmingly primary cause of continued warming, rather than our piddling 0.00325 contribution to the greenhouse effect.

      Yet even that trend-continuation today needs to be proved. Evidence is that the Medieval Warm Period centered on the 1200s was somewhat warmer than we are now[9], and the climate was clearly colder in the Little Ice Age in the 1600s than it is now[10]. So we are within the range of normal up-and-down fluctuations without human greenhouse contributions that could be significant, or even measurable.

      The principal scientists arguing for human-caused global warming have been demonstrably disingenuous[11], and now you can see why. They have proved they should not be trusted.

      The idea that we should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars and hamstringing the economy of the entire world to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is beyond ludicrous in light of the facts above; it is insane. Furthermore, it sucks attention and resources from seeking the other sources of warming and from coping with climate change and its effects in realistic ways. The true motivation underlying the global warming movement is almost certainly ideological and political in nature, and I predict that anthropogenic Global Warming, as currently presented, will go down as the greatest fraud of all time. It makes Ponzi and Madoff look like pikers by comparison.

      [1] Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition

      by Michael Pidwirny Concentration varies slightly with the growing season in the northern hemisphere. HYPERLINK “”

      [2] ibid.

      [3] HALOE v2.0 Upper Tropospheric Water Vapor Climatology Claudette Ojo, Hampton University; et al.. HYPERLINK “” See p. 4.The 0 – 4% range is widely accepted among most sources. This source is listed for its good discussion of the phenomena determining that range. An examination of a globe will show that tropical oceans (near high end of range) are far more extensive than the sum of the earth’s arctic and antarctic regions and tropical-zone deserts (all near the low end). Temperate zone oceans are far more extensive than temperate-zone desert. This author’s guess of an average of 2% or more seems plausible. I have used “1% or more” in an effort to err on the side of understatement.

      [4 NIST Chemistry Webbook, Please compare the IR absorption spectra of water and carbon dioxide. ] HYPERLINK “”

      [5] Three quarters of the atmosphere and virtually all water vapor are in the troposphere. Including all the atmosphere would change the ratios to about 20 times more prevalent and 60 times more effective. However, the greenhouse effect of high-altitude carbon dioxide on lower-altitude weather and the earth’s surface seems likely to be small if not nil.

      [6] National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. HYPERLINK “” The estimated 90ppm increase in carbon dioxide, 30% above the base of 280 ppm, to a recent reading of 370 ppm, equates to just under 25% of present concentration, the relevant factor in estimating present contribution to the greenhouse effect.

      [7] Oak Ridge National Laboratory

      [8] New York Nature – The nature and natural history of the New York City region. Betsy McCully

      [9] Global Warming: A Geological Perspective John P. Bluemle HYPERLINK “” This article, published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, is drawn from a paper by the author in Environmental Geosciences, 1999, Volume 6, Number 2, pp. 63-75. Note particularly the chart on p.4.

      [10] Ibid.

      [11] Wikileaks: Climatic Research Unit emails, data, models, 1996-2009 HYPERLINK “,_data,_models,_1996-2009”,_data,_models,_1996-2009.

      See also HYPERLINK “” and

      HYPERLINK “” and, more diplomatically: HYPERLINK “” Et al.


      What initially troubled me was the aberrant behavior of the climate research unit at East Anglia University, which has been the main data source for AGW arguments. They initially refused (!) to reveal their algorithms and data on the grounds that they were proprietary(!!). They responded to critics with ad hominem attacks and efforts to block their publication in scientific journals. Now, as I am sure you know, this is not how one does honest science, in which you PUBLISH your data and methodology and invite critical comment to ferret out error or oversights. It took the now-famous Wikileaks “Climategate” to pry loose the data and expose their machinations. Yet despite the devastating blow these revelations should have to their credibility, the AGW “cause” has taken on a life of its own.

      Fundamentally, the argument seems to rest on a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc – after this, therefore because of this. We see a rise in temperature and a rise in (principally) carbon dioxide, and therefore conclude one must have caused the other. It does not necessarily follow at all. There can be other causes entirely behind both phenomena, and as you see above, almost certainly there are. Beyond that, I have encountered numerous assertions of fact that cannot add up given the physical properties of water vapor and carbon dioxide that go unchallenged. One-sided arguments proliferate and people arguing the other side are frequently denounced as being employed by business interests rather than rebutted on the merits.

      In sum, I have not come lightly to the conclusion that the AGW argument as it applies to carbon dioxide is largely untrue and certainly does not account for more than a very small, nearly negligible part of the phenomena we are seeing. The implications of widespread assertions of and belief in such an untruth are staggering, and potentially enormously destructive. It is unwise indeed to let oneself be stampeded in this matter, and stampede is clearly what many have been and are trying to induce.

      I can understand politicians behaving this way; a carbon tax or carbon trading regime would allow enormous revenues to fall into their hands. I can understand “Progressive” ideologues; it logically leads to enormous expansion of government power over industry, the economy, and the daily life of individuals, which they regard as a good thing. I understand the environmentalists; they want to shrink the size and impact on the environment of modern civilization. But responsible citizens need to put aside such considerations.

      • Ritchie Emmons

        DD, you make excellent points here. I would suggest though that if you ever find yourself in a position arguing with someone on the Left about AGW, you skip all of the above (as damning as it is to the Left’s argument) because you are essentially arguing on their turf. They’ll come back with some bogus statistic about it getting warmer in X part of the world or how the heat is being stored in the oceans or some such nonsense.
        I recommend coming right out of the gates and declaring that they have just about zero interest in the well being of the environment and are vastly more interested in creating more state control over the citizenry so that (liberal) politicians, bureaucrats and regulators can socially control the rest of us. The “environment” is not a goal, it’s a tool. That way you’ll be arguing things on *your* turf and have the liberal back on his heels and defensive, rather than the other way around.

        • DiogenesDespairs

          Thank you for your comments. My purpose with my little essay was not to argue with left-wing warmists, which I suspect is a waste of time. My purpose was to address people with open minds, whether they have been taken in by warmist propaganda or are undecided, or skeptical, and debunk the warmists’ fundamental argument that scientific fact supports them, which as you can see it does not. When it comes to True Believers, argument is likely fruitless, since their motives are either venal or a psychological need for self-validation and therefor not subject to rational debate. I have had some luck with confronting them with their hypocrisy when I can suss out where they are coming from: It is like holding up a garlic-draped crucifix to a vampire; the effect is wonderful to behold.

        • Corlyss

          “if you ever find yourself in a position arguing with someone on the Left about AGW, you skip all of the above (as damning as it is to the Left’s argument) because you are essentially arguing on their turf.”

          I would suggest he forego arguing with idiots and spend the weekend on the Riviera. You can’t dispute an Article of Faith with a fanatic. Like teaching a pig to sing, it only frustrates you and annoys the pig.

  • lukelea

    Science does not support the proposition that the amount of global warming caused by CO2 emissions will necessarily be a bad thing for our planet, let alone catastrophic — which is a good thing in view of the fact that there is nothing practicable, or even impracticable, we can do to prevent it to any significant degree in the foreseeable future.

    • Corlyss

      As Christopher Horner often says, “It’s plant food.”

  • Flatus Rectum

    Global warming will one day join the Piltdown Man as one of science’s great hoaxes

  • stanbrown

    Even if one assumes that most scientific studies are accurate, there are huge gaping holes in the theory of catastrophic global warming. And the economics of the theory is just ridiculously stupid.

    But the problem that most concerns me is the failure of people to come to grips with the reality that the vast majority of all science studies are badly flawed (see Amgen, Bayer, venture capital experiences, Ioannides, et al). And politically motivated studies are even more likely to be flawed. There is no quality control process for science. None. Nobody ever checks anyone else’s work. Whatever rare efforts to audit or replicate important work is done by outsiders. The scientific establishment has no interest in quality.

    Why would any rational person support and embrace the work of people who have ZERO interest in quality? The most important, most-cited in news reports studies of the global warmists have consistently been exposed as wrong. And not just mistaken — ridiculous and often fraudulent. With this kind of track record, one would have to be insane to accept the work of global warming scientists as true.

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