There were doubtless plenty of agreements made at Copenhagen but the major ones were non-binding. Those are the kind of deals that delegates embrace enthusiastically in their speeches but take care not to sign lest their countries be held to their word. They're the kind of oral agreements that the irrepressible Sam Goldwyn, Hollywood mogul and Mr. Malaprop himself, once described as not worth the paper they're written on. Or rather not written on.Almost coincident with the grand conference at Copenhagen a treasure trove of leaked documents appeared out of the very center of global alarmism over climate change, the Climatic Research Unit of East Anglia University at Norwich, England, which is "widely recognized as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change," according to its Web site. These days it's widely recognized as a center for the suppression of any and all dissenting views about the causes of global warming. If this is science, what would dogma be?
Conspiracies to suppress scientific dissent scarcely ended with Galileo's trial, but at least the church eventually repented and begged pardon. There is little if any sign that the wannabe Al Gores at East Anglia, more politicians than scientists, have been chastened by what's come to be known as Climategate. Instead, they have adopted a variation of the Dan Rather defense: falsified maybe but accurate.
Barack Obama's appearance at the last minute was the final, flashy touch at Copenhagen as he made much ado about much of nothing. The president hasn't demonstrated his diplomatic finesse so convincingly since he went to the same city not long ago to not get the Olympics for Chicago. Which may have been a blessing in disguise, too. (The traffic in the Loop is already bad enough.)
Naturally the president and his handlers came back from Copenhagen declaring a great victory -- Carbon Control in our Time! But surely even they didn't believe it. Certainly the Europeans didn't. As soon as the Grand Conference concluded, the market for carbon-control permits on the European continent dropped dramatically, as if investors were confirming that the countries represented at Copenhagen weren't serious about controlling carbon emissions. No poll is more reliable than the market, where people put their money where their opinions are. It's a great test of sincerity.
The final accord at Copenhagen didn't specify, not in writing, how much big countries like the United States and mainland China are now supposed to reduce their carbon emissions. Nor did the conference decide precisely how much all the other countries were going to sacrifice in order to clean up the world's climate. Just about the only thing the delegates could agree on was to jet off to the next world climate-change conference, which is already scheduled for Mexico City, the one sure effect of which will be to add still more carbon to the Earth's atmosphere.