Thousands are now gathered in Copenhagen to embark on an aggressive plan to reach a framework for reducing carbon emissions, with the goal of instituting a more formalized, binding agreement within six months.
Now, many others have rightly criticized and written on the faulty research used to support the panic of "global warming" and supposedly retreating icebergs. In the past two weeks, this justified skepticism has gained significant traction in light of the recently released "ClimateGate" e-mails, wherein researchers and peers of the notable Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University appear to concede that climate change is due to natural, not human, activity.
However, in this week's column I want to pivot around that important debate for a minute to talk about the politics and economics of this week's climate gathering
Predictably, the United States is the main target of the thousands of protesters, media and conference participants -- all more than willing to wave the finger of blame on our nation for all the world's perceived climate ills. You see, folks in Beijing, Bandung and Bangalore all want the United States to accept stringent restrictions on her own industries without accepting even less stringent restrictions on their own countries.
In one of many possible examples, just Wednesday India reiterated its refusal to accept any sort of binding restrictions limiting carbon emissions for their country -- while at the same time demanding an increase in proposed cutbacks for our country!
It seems as though negotiators are utterly ignoring the official projections from the Indian government which indicate that Indian emissions will triple or quadruple in the next 20 years, even as American emissions are projected to drop. Yet we're not even asking for cuts in Indian emissions, just a slower rate of growth. In a similar position, Chinese leaders have been equally antagonistic to the United States.
Beyond even projections, this idea of the United States as the Great Polluter is increasingly less justified. In recent years, China has risen to become the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases. According to the World Bank, Indonesia clocks in at third, with India, Russia, and Japan also sitting at the top. The U.S. still ranks second, but is the only top-ranked country which has been curbing, rather than increasing, emissions of greenhouse gases.