2009 International Conference On Climate Change
© Hearland Institute2009 International Conference On Climate Change

One young radical turned up at the Heartland Institute's climate change skeptics' conference in New York this week to declare that he had never witnessed so much hypocrisy. How, he asked the panelists of a session on European policy, could they sleep at night? Clearly puzzled, one of the panelists asked him with which parts of their presentations he disagreed. "Oh," he said "I didn't come here to listen to the presentations."

The conference - titled "Global Warming: Was it ever really a crisis?" - attracted close to 700 participants. Most of those I met displayed almost joy at being among people who dared to stand up to the mindless climate "consensus" and the refusal to debate, or even look at, the facts, as typified by that righteous young radical.

President Obama is considering a cap-and-trade system with which Canada would be forced to co-ordinate its own policies. The conference made clear how damaging and pointless such a policy would be.

Vaclav Klaus, the professorial president of both the Czech Republic and the European Union, pointed out at the conference's first session on Sunday evening that the global political establishment was still in the grip of thinking reminiscent of the Communism under which he once lived. He noted that few if any politicians seemed even aware of, or interested in, either the shortcomings of officially cooked climate science, or the potential disasters of climate policy.

Professor Richard Lindzen, one of the world's leading climatologists, also stressed that climate alarmism was a political and not a scientific matter. Particular worrying, he said, was that various scientific bodies had been seized by alarmists, who now issued statements without polling the members. This played into the appeal to authority rather than science. He called climate modelling "unintelligent design" and global warming a "postmodern coup d'état." He stressed that "Nature hasn't followed the models" used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There has been no global warming for 10 or 15 years. Countering all the blather about Exxon's (former) support for Heartland that appeared in coverage of the conference by climate-change cheerleaders at The New York Times and The Guardian, he noted that skeptics in fact had minimal resources to rectify the incipient policy horrors.

Asked why the skeptics had so much trouble in presenting a unified front, Professor Lindzen stressed that there was no "skeptical solidarity." But Joseph Bast, head of the Heartland Institute, pointed out that such diversity was a sign of free inquiry, as opposed to bogus claims that the science was "settled."

The sessions indicated the huge potential costs of the Obama administration's commitment to cap and trade, regulation and the promotion of renewables, effectively rationing energy as a way of grabbing revenue. Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who takes pride in having been dubbed a "climate criminal" by Greenpeace, noted that the political struggle had to keep the message simple. Voters should ask politicians one simple question: "Why do you want to raise my energy prices?" Since the one issue on which there truly is consensus is that Kyoto would have had little or no impact on global temperatures, it is a question for governments around the world, not least that of the government of Ontario, which has just introduced its draconian Green Energy Act.

Indur Goklany, an expert on globalization and a contributor to the IPCC, noted, using the UN's own figures, that global warming was by no means the threat conventionally portrayed. Indeed, the UN even acknowledged its benefits, although to establish that fact you had to read the documents "like a lawyer."

The session interrupted by the callow youth outlined the disaster of the EU's emissions trading system, and of its climate change policies in general. The good news, as Benny Peiser of John Moores University in Liverpool, and editor of the influential CCNet science network, suggested, was that the green movement was collapsing in Europe and becoming increasingly unpopular, as its enormous costs and minimal results were becoming apparent. The attempt to "rebrand" Europe as the "Environmental Union" had fallen apart and was now causing increasing discord both between and within countries.

Europe was now desperate for the United States, China and India to share its self-inflicted pain in time for the next great UN expense-fest in Copenhagen, but it was unlikely to happen.

One of the most devastating presentations came from Gabriel Calzada, a Spanish economist who indicated how Spain's "leadership" in subsidizing wind and solar power - which had been praised by President Obama - had produced enormous costs, no benefits and was now falling apart. "Green jobs" were calculated not only to cost around half-a-million Euros a pop, they came at the expense of two "normal" jobs. And they were now disappearing as the renewables bubble collapsed.

A questioner asked why European governments continued to promote such destructive and pointless policies. Roger Helmer, a member of the European Parliament, said it was a matter of inertia, plus the fact that there was no "Plan B."

The task of the brave skeptics who appeared at Heartland this week is to find out how to ditch Plan A. There could be no better stimulus to the global economy.