Next week's Copenhagen summit on climate change already seems doomed to failure, and voices on both sides of the global-warming debate are trying to pin the blame on Climategate. Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to use Climategate to scuttle the Democrats' cap-and-trade legislation. Even the Saudis -- who like fossil fuels even more than Tiger Woods likes the ladies -- are getting in on the act, saying the scandal casts the entire case for global warming in doubt.
"Climategate," aka warmerquiddick, aka the CRUtape letters, aka the Mother of All Publicity Disasters, refers to the leaking of vast numbers of e-mails and other documents from a leading British global-warming outfit, the Climatic Research Unit. The e-mails show, depending on your outlook, anything from sloppiness, pettiness and dishonesty to outright fraud among some of the world's leading climate scientists.
The e-mails don't show that the scientists don't believe global warming is real. Rather, they show that the scientists believe in global warming so much, they think they're justified in doing anything to fight it. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, you never ask questions when Gaia's on your side.
Climategate is a big deal, but we should be clear: It's not why cap-and-trade should be scuttled, and it's not why Copenhagen will produce nothing, save enormous expense-account submissions for cookie-pushing climate diplomats (and a massive amount of greenhouse gases; the U.N. estimates the 12-day "green" confab will produce 40,584 tons of CO2 equivalents, roughly equal to Morocco's carbon footprint in 2006).
Here is one simple, inconvenient truth: No developing country with significant and remotely accessible stocks of fossil fuels will agree to leave the stuff in the ground.
"Ten countries ruled by nasty people control 80 percent of the planet's oil reserves -- about 1 trillion barrels, currently worth about $40 trillion," writes energy expert Peter Huber in City Journal. "If $40 trillion worth of gold were located where most of the oil is, one could only scoff at any suggestion that we might somehow persuade the nasty people to leave the wealth buried. They can lift most of their oil at a cost well under $10 a barrel. They will drill. They will pump. And they will find buyers. Oil is all they've got."