Matthew Knott, in Copenhagen, writes:
As if the COP15 participants weren’t doing a good enough job already, the climate change sceptics have been out in force at Copenhagen working hard to undermine the climate change summit during its opening days.
Whilst the COP15 is taking place in the drab Bella Centre, as big and as aesthetically pleasing as an airport terminal, the skeptics have held their “summit” in a small flat in Christianshavn –- a clever choice for a group of unorthodox thinkers given it is home to a self-proclaimed autonomous community of squatters and hippies.
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Upon arrival, a hand-written sign sticky-taped next to the front door directs you to the event, officially named the “Copenhagen Climate Change Challenge”. A colourful sticker on the ground reads “hurra global warming [sic]” and shows a red-headed Eskimo standing on a melting ice-cap with a seagull in one hand and an ice-cream in the other (don’t ask). The walls of the tiny room where the 50-odd sceptics gather are almost invisible behind the mass of rococo artworks: squint and you could be in the Louvre. “We are certainly small in quantity, but what we lack in numbers we make up for in quality,” boasts Christopher Monckton, chairman of the event and former advisor to Margaret Thatcher.
Buoyed by the recent release of the stolen Climate-gate emails, the skeptics are in fine spirits – one of the gathering says their struggle is the 21st century equivalent of Galileo’s attempts to disprove the Catholic Church’s claim that the Earth was the centre of the universe.
Australian Ian Plimer, geologist and author of Heaven and Earth, is one of the stars and despite initial doubts – “What is Crikey doing at an event like this?” – agrees to answer some questions on COP15 and the Senate’s rejection of the Rudd Government’s ETS.
Solar radiation and volcanic activity are both possible culprits for global warming, Plimer argues. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is “not a pollutant, it is plant food”.
Attending the Copenhagen Climate Change Challenge is to enter a parallel universe, an 100 per cent irony-neutral zone.
The East Anglia professors – “Let’s sue for fraud!” – are pilloried for manipulating evidence to prove their hypothesis. But no-one bats an eyelid when UK lawyer and businessman Stewart Wheeler says: “Maybe what I am about to say is not completely accurate but it’ll make the point I hope.”
At the conclusion of Wheeler’s talk chairman Christopher Monckton lauds him for speaking up for the “common-man on the bus”. Then he remarks, no pun intended: “I know where your castle is”. Turns out Wheeler is a multi-millionare who had enough spare change lying around in 2001 to donate £5 million towards the Conservative Party election campaign.
The speakers pat themselves on their backs for their “evidence-based” and “apolitical” presentations. Yet politics, of a distinctly right-of-centre variety, dominate the conference. Several of the participants boast of their membership of the anti-European Union UK Independence Party. Professor Plimer says that not only do Al Gore and algae sound alike: “They are both scum”. The suggestion that mankind should be demonising water rather than co2, given that 300 Americans drown in their bathtubs each year, is greeted by the reply: “I’m sure the 300 are all Democrats”.
And as skepticism is the flavour of the alternative conference it’s perhaps also worth noting that organiser of the event, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow think-tank, received $582,000 between 1998 and 2007 from ExxonMobil.