Last December delegates from 190-plus countries gathered in Poznan, Poland, for the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-14) amidst high expectations that the gathering would pave the way for a new convention on climate change. UN officials proclaimed the urgency to build upon the “momentum” they had achieved with the “Bali Roadmap” – the so-called consensus announced at the December 2007 COP-13 meeting in Indonesia that supported adoption of a new treaty to replace the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol.
The urgency felt by delegates was exemplified by the opening remarks of Conference President Maciej Nowicki, who boldly warned that global warming will cause “huge droughts and floods, cyclones with increasingly more destructive power, tropical disease pandemics, a dramatic decline of biodiversity” with even the possibility of “armed conflicts and migration of populations at an unprecedented scale.” Many radical organizations, ranging from Greenpeace to Friends of the Earth, were there to try and strong-arm delegates to throw caution to the wind and press on with a new, far-reaching agreement. But a well-organized CFACT team arrived on the scene armed with fact sheets, scientific reports, and documentary footage to present another side of the “global warming” story.
CFACT Europe President Dr. Holger Thuss and CFACT Executive Director Craig Rucker provided leadership for what was surely one of the most successful CFACT showings at a UN conference to date. The CFACT information booth was near the site of the main plenary sessions — right in the heart of the conference center. This was in marked contrast to prior events, when the UN had been careful to tuck skeptics away in dark corners.
This prime real estate location provided to the CFACT delegation did not go uncontested. Another NGO, Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross, had already set up shop at the CFACT space, but UN officials properly instructed the squatters to remove their materials as soon as the CFACT delegation arrived. This was an excellent development and an early sign that CFACT was poised to make a large impact in Poznan.
Delegates, NGO representatives, and members of the press quickly devoured the materials placed on the CFACT table. Christina Wilson, a representative of CFACT’s Collegians program, reliably manned the booth and entertained a number of challenging questions from individuals who had never heard the straight facts about the science supporting the global warming theory or the economic ramifications of a new climate treaty.
Colorful fact sheets on various issues such as cap-and-trade policy and the true state of the polar bear were handed out en masse. Scientific reports presented by CFACT Europe, Germany’s Institute for Free Enterprise, and the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) were also disseminated. To augment the paper documents CFACT staff screened video clips from The Great Global Warming Swindle, a highly acclaimed British documentary that showcases credible scientists arguing against the notion of a catastrophic, human-induced global warming.
Mr. Rucker, Dr. Thuss, and CFACT Development Director Ryan Nichols carefully distributed CFACT’s materials in one-on-one meetings with many key delegates. They explored most venues at the conference site and entered into the plenary session to speak to representatives from such diverse nations as Germany, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Republic of Korea, Fiji, Burundi, Brazil, and many others.
Mr. Rucker spoke at length with Trigg Talley, a prominent member of the official U.S. government delegation. Mr. Rucker also delivered a copy of the NIPCC report directly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). CFACT directors visited the on-site diplomatic offices of nations — such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and China — whose leaders have expressed criticism of extreme carbon reductions. Staff also posted CFACT materials on billboards and tables throughout the conference center. CFACT’s presence was very strong.
The Greens, not unexpectedly, also made noise at the conference. Most notably, they organized a march down the frigid streets of Poznan and hoisted protest banners expressing their fears of impending global warming (which onlookers viewed in bundled winter clothing). They also had a visible presence in the conference center distributing propaganda from their highly decorative booths.
Perhaps the most peculiar event was an ice carving contest, organized by city officials, which featured beautiful Christmas ice sculptures crafted by artists from around the world. The UN conference logo was even carved into a block of ice and displayed in the city square. Apparently the irony of an ice-sculpting contest at a global warming summit was lost on the organizers of this particular event!
CFACT staged several high-profile events of its own. The first was a partial screening of the new, upcoming movie, Not Evil, Just Wrong, produced by Greener Horizon Films. The film documents how Green policies based upon the precautionary principle led to a ban on DDT that contributed to a malaria epidemic that has killed tens of millions. The moviemakers then explain how a global warming treaty based on the same principle could similarly impact the lives of many throughout both the developed and developing world by causing energy costs to skyrocket.
To discuss the film, Greener Horizon sent along Polish native Magdalena Segieda to speak at several forums that showcased the screenings. The first was to Poland’s largest conservative youth organization, the All Polish Youth, in Warsaw. The second was to a gathering of local church pastors in Poznan. The third was to attendees of COP-14 at a well-publicized, CFACT-sponsored side event in the convention center.
During the first two forums viewers received the movie positively and it sparked good discussion. During the presentation to the UN, however, two IPCC members, particularly upset with the movie’s content, angrily voiced their protests during the screening. When they were unable to verbally score any points with the Greener Horizon and CFACT panelists, they stormed out of the meeting. So much for the open-mindedness of UN scientists!
Fortunately, many members of the media and delegates who attended were less hostile and gave more thoughtful reactions. Cathie Adams of Eagle Forum wrote a column about the event in World Net Daily, and Ms. Segieda was given important coverage on Polish National Television.
The second major CFACT event was the release of three research studies just before the close of the conference. The first, presented by Dr. Thuss, was the NIPCC report entitled “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate.” This report, commissioned by a coalition of forty-one civil society organizations across the world, independently examined, without bias and selectivity, the evidence in the published, peer-reviewed literature on the causes and consequences of climate change. The NIPCC concluded that humans are not primarily responsible for climate change and that the consequences of warming are not as detrimental as some scientists previously believed.
The second study, presented by Wolfgang Mueller of Germany’s Institute For Free Enterprise, features an independent assessment of the implications of climate change for humanity and the policy options that might be adopted. The third report, presented by Marc Morano, Communications Director for the Minority Office of the U.S. Senate and Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, showcased over 650 scientists from dozens of countries who have voiced significant objections to the so-called consensus on manmade global warming. The EPW report also emphasizes that these scientists, many of whom are former participants in the UN’s IPCC, are now quite critical of the alarmist climate claims made by the UN’s IPCC and Al Gore.
The press conference drew the interest of reporters from such diverse media as Scientific American, Sky News, and the BBC, among others. In America, the EPW report was highlighted by many major outlets courtesy of the Drudge Report, and CFACT spokesmen conducted radio interviews highlighting their findings on such programs as the Vicki McKenna Show, the Dave Thompson Show, and One News Now. CFACT expects to continue to publicize all of these significantly important studies throughout the coming year and to carry out other activities that will focus on the unbearable costs of the climate change crusade.
Shortly before leaving the conference, the CFACT team took one last parting shot at gaining exposure for their message. Donning a polar bear suit and carrying a sign which said “Don’t worry, we’re doing fine,” Ryan Nichols paraded around the conference center with Christina Wilson handing out flyers that encouraged attendees to look into all the facts regarding ice melt and the true plight of the polar bear.
The reaction from delegates and members of the media was very positive, with many stopping to take their picture alongside the costumed creature. But such could not be said of the Greens. So distraught were they at the fact sheets that one of them actually ran up and put her arms around the bear’s throat as if to strangle it. Little doubt it appeared strange to many onlookers that a representative of an environmental group would treat any animal, fictitious or not, in such fashion!
COP-14 had the ambitious goal of moving the climate negotiation process forward, and to this end it made little progress. Significant differences still exist among the various parties as to how to achieve emissions reductions and to what levels their emissions should be pared. China and India remain non-committal, and Russia has indicated a willingness to bow out of the process altogether if the forthcoming treaty is perceived as a hindrance to its economic interests.
Meanwhile, both Australia and the European Union have pressed forward with their own global warming policies that are so riddled with holes and exemptions for various industries that experts predict they will only lower emissions around 5% by 2020 – a long shot from the 20%-25% reductions sought by Green advocates.
For its part, CFACT achieved its goal of raising yet more awareness of both the scientific and economic shortcomings of a new Kyoto-style treaty and made many new friends in the process. Bolstered by a growing membership and the numbers and expertise of skeptics joining its ranks, CFACT is well positioned to make an even greater impact in future climate gatherings – including the upcoming Copenhagen conference scheduled for December 2009.