A few months ago at a Senate hearing about climate change featuring Roy Spencer, a former NASA scientist who departs from climate orthodoxy, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (a double winner of Power Line’s Green Weenie Award) thought he could discredit Spencer not by arguing science, but by essentially asking Spencer “Are you now or have you ever been a believing Christian?” (Spencer has expressed doubt that Darwinian evolution can explain the origin of life and consciousness, a view that causes you to be cast to the outer darkness among the intelligentsia these days: just ask the eminent philosopher Thomas Nagel, who holds a similar view but who is otherwise an atheist.)
I wonder if Whitehouse would ever ask a conventional climateer a similar question about their theological views. At the 2010 UN climate summit in Cancun (for some reason the climateers never meet in Dayton), the executive secretary of the UN climate bureau, Christiana Figueres, opened the meeting with a prayer . . . to the ancient Mayan goddess Ixchel:
“The goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you—because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change, using both reason and creativity as your tools.”
We know the climateers have no sense humor, but they apparently lack any sense of irony, too. Mayans? Mayans?? The civilization that collapsed in large part due to ecological mismanagement and hubris? That’s your inspiration?
But perhaps I’m misreading Ms. Figueres: perhaps what she admires more about the Mayans isn’t their spirituality or architecture, but their murderous authoritarianism that included human sacrifice on a large scale. That would certainly fit environmentalist hostility to population growth, and we know from Matthew Connelly’s fine book Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population, that the UN was utterly indifferent to the body count from botched forced sterilizations in the Third World in the 1970s; thousands died in India from hasty procedures, for instance—the modern day equivalent of human sacrifice to appease the green gods.
Lately Figueres has decided to do her best Thomas Friedman imitation to say that the model for climate policy is . . . China. Yeah—that would be the China whose greenhouse gas emissions are set to double over the next 20 years or so. Yet here’s Bloomberg two days ago reporting on Figueres:
China, the top emitter of greenhouse gases, is also the country that’s “doing it right” when it comes to addressing global warming, the United Nations’ chief climate official said.
Figueres is giddy about China’s efficiency standards (whoa, save up!), and notes they want to conquer their dreadful air pollution, apparently ignorant of the fact that you can reduce conventional air pollution without making much difference to greenhouse gas emissions, which are largely different in character. More on this point some other time.
But I think Figueres’s admiration for China is not the results, but the form of rule that the UN lusts to have for itself, which this sentence from the Bloomberg story makes explicit:
China is also able to implement policies because its political system avoids some of the legislative hurdles seen in countries including the U.S., Figueres said.
QED. It’s not about the environment.