Climate change is one of those issues I know enough about to know how little I really know. And I certainly haven't learned much more during the 193-nation climate talks that concluded in Copenhagen this week. I'm one of those agnostics willing to accept evidence that the earth is warming but not yet convinced that scientists fully understand why. And my skepticism has grown greater in light of the recent climategate scandal involving leaked e-mails that suggested prominent climate-change scientists have manipulated data and tried to stifle dissent in the scientific community.
But while the Copenhagen talks didn't shed much light on the climate issue per se, they certainly revealed much about the motivations of those involved in the debate. It was clear, both in the meetings and among protestors outside, that the most vociferous advocates for imposing limits on greenhouse emissions are motivated only tangentially by concern for the planet. The real target of radical environmentalism is capitalism.
Bolivian President Evo Morales claimed that "Mother Earth ... (is) now the slave of capitalist countries." Fellow socialist and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez made no bones about his antipathy: "The destructive model of capitalism is eradicating life," he told conference attendees. "We need to consume less and distribute more," he said, summarizing the overall feeling of most of the poorer countries represented in Copenhagen.
While communist flags waved on the streets outside the conference, inside Chavez's lament was echoed by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. "Where is its commitment to redistributive justice, which we see (Western nations) applying on other issues?" demanded the man whose socialist and anti-white policies starved his own nation, once known as the breadbasket of Africa.
You get the impression listening to some of these critics that if they can't make their own countries wealthy, they'd be satisfied by ensuring that every other country is mired in the same poverty and misery as they are. And climate change gives them the perfect vehicle to strike a blow against wealthy countries, especially the U.S.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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