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Here in Bonn, where the architecture and the ambience are famously boring, we had rather hoped that the proceedings of the UN’s Climate and World Government Conference would be livened by the antics of the Traffic-Light Tendency – the Greens too yellow to admit they’re really Reds.
But where are all the protesters? Where are the screeching crowds of badly-dressed enviro-zombies? The row of just a dozen tables for “Non-Governmental Organizations” – UN-speak for pressure-groups – was largely empty.
Two earnest ladies were handing out leaflets about the joys of planting mixed forests.
A next-door stand was displaying copies of a pamphlet catchily entitled “Climate Change Mitigation in Advanced Developing Countries: Empirical Analysis of the Low-Hanging Fruit Issue In The Current CDM.”
Had they meant “Currant” rather than “Current”? Do currants count as Low-Hanging Fruit? No one seemed to know. And does the UK, after a decade of more than usually limp economic performance, now count as an Advanced Developing Country?
At the door of the conference chamber, two willowy youths in sharply-pressed suits were loudly discussing how distressing it was that the “Climate Skeptics” (hiss, boo) had enjoyed themselves in the snowy weather, pointing out – quite unfairly, the suits were saying to one another – that one cold winter does not spell the end of the “global warming” theory.
They were right, of course. It was cruel of us to point out that we’ve now had three cold winters and three generally wretched summers in a row; that there has been no statistically-significant “global warming” for a decade and a half; and that this Spring the Arctic sea ice began its annual melting on the latest date since records began. Cruel, but fun. As I passed them, I murmured, “How many inches of ‘global warming’ did you have to shovel this winter?” They glowered unseraphically.
One of the virtues of coming to these conferences is the chance to talk to delegates directly, and to remind them of some of the scientific truths that have been systematically overlooked or even suppressed by the malevolent Climategate emailers who control far too much of what the IPCC does. A Ukrainian delegate was astonished when I told him that the IPCC had exaggerated the warming effect of CO2 at least fourfold. As I explained the scientific basis for this conclusion, his eyes widened. He left looking thoughtful.
Next, the Swiss official in charge of the IPCC’s Technical Panel came to say hello. He had also visited the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow’s stand in Poznan and had spent several hours with us. This time, he also spent a long time talking to us and doing his best to reassure us that the IPCC – rather like a teenager appearing in court for heaving bricks through other people’s windows – was really of good character but had had an unfortunate childhood.
His advice was that we should take full advantage of the commission of enquiry into the IPCC’s processes, that we should not dwell on its numerous tantrums and misbehaviors in the past, and that we should tell the commission all of our recommendations for reforming the IPCC and its processes.
We told him we were rather disenchanted with that approach, not least because the commission had made it quite plain that it was not going to examine the past conduct of the IPCC at all. My own feeling, I said, was that the IPCC would prove irreformable until one or two of its senior figures were prosecuted for criminal fraud and peddling false science. He was disappointed by this, but accepted that the State that is so willing to crack down on us with the full weight of laws and penalties if we go 1 mph over the speed limit cannot expect us to allow it to get away with the systematic frauds that several IPCC personnel have perpetrated. We’d had enough, I said.
Inside the conference chamber, the delegates were smoothly agreeing to vote the UN yet more of your money and mine so that it can hold as many conferences between now and December as possible, so that the Cancun climate conference will be the moment when a binding world-government treaty is signed. On a parallel track, though, plans are afoot for a meeting of Heads of Government at the Peterhof, a very grand hotel on a readily defensible hilltop not far from Bonn, in the next few weeks. My guess – though nobody will quite confirm it openly – is that the world-government Treaty will be agreed and signed at the Peterhof meeting, from which mere ordinary people will be carefully excluded.
Outside the gray-on-gray slab of grimy, cheerless concrete that is the conference hotel, people dressed as giant polar bears were tottering about aimlessly. Their message, if there was one, was not entirely clear. They were not chanting slogans – just waddling around in listless circles.
Next to this particular group of amiable but pointless wingnuts was a gathering of ladies of uncertain age and generally Oriental aspect, who said they were disciples of the Supreme Master (whoever he/she may be). They recommended, with the most winsome smiles, that we could Save The Planet and Support the Cuddly Polar Bears if only we all went Vegan. I wondered, vaguely, whether Vegans were allowed to eat low-hanging currants.
These particular wingnuts have become something of a favorite with the gray-on-gray conference delegates. They were in Copenhagen last December, standing bravely in the perishing cold outside the “global warming” conference and offering rather heavy-looking Vegan sandwiches to passers-by. And, much like the world-government wannabes inside these UN conferences, the Vegan ladies were endlessly patient and polite. I tested this by going up to one or two of them and suggesting that they might like to try a nice roast-beef sandwich. They smiled seraphically.