There are not many empty seats in the dismal, echoing conference chamber in the ghastly concrete box that is the Hotel Maritim here in Bonn, where the UNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s latest attempt to maneuver the 194 States Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change gets underway today.
The Ã¢â‚¬Å“international communityÃ¢â‚¬Â, as it is now called, is here in full force, in the shape of expensively-suited, shiny-shod bureaucrats with an urbane manner and absolutely no knowledge of climate science whatsoever.
However, one empty chair is a pointer of things to come. The Holy See Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a tiny nation in its own right, with a billion citizens around the world Ã¢â‚¬â€œ has left its chair empty. And that is significant. If Ã¢â‚¬Å“global warmingÃ¢â‚¬Â still mattered, the Vatican would make sure that its representatives were present throughout this gloomy gathering of world-government wannabes.
This emergency conference, called by the UNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bureaucrats because they were terrified that Cancun this December might fail as spectacularly as Copenhagen did last year, is a much quieter affair than Copenhagen. Not only has the air of triumphalism gone, after the scandals of Climategate, Himalayagate, Amazongate and so forth, but the belief that Ã¢â‚¬Å“global warmingÃ¢â‚¬Â is a global crisis has largely gone too.
There are a few true-believers left among the national delegates, but more of them than before are open to discussion of the previously-forbidden question Ã¢â‚¬â€œ what if the climate extremists have made the whole thing up?
The Chinese Xinhua News Agency, for instance, came up to the table manned by the environmental campaigners of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which takes a hard-boiled, cynical view of the notion that a tiny increase in the atmospheric concentration of a trace gas is likely to cause a thousand international disasters.
The reporters were genuinely interested to hear that there is another side to the story. Huan Gongdi, the AgencyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s senior correspondent in Germany, asked me what I thought of the Copenhagen accord (a waste of time), what was happening in Bonn (a desperate attempt to ram through a binding Treaty that can be put in front of the US Senate before the mid-term elections make Senate acceptance of any such treaty unthinkable), and whether or not there was a climate crisis anyway (there isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t).
I explained to Mr. Huan that even if the UN had not exaggerated the warming effect of CO2 many times over there was still nothing we could do about the supposed Ã¢â‚¬Å“crisisÃ¢â‚¬Â, because we were emitting so little of the stuff in the first place.
For the record, I did the sum in front of him. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 today is about 388 parts per million by volume. However, we are adding just 2 ppmv a year to the air. So the warming we cause each year, even if one believes the UNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wild exaggerations of CO2Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s warming effect, is just 4.7 times the natural logarithm of the proportionate increase in CO2 concentration from 388 to 390 ppmv.
Thus, 4.7 ln(390/388) = 0.043 Fahrenheit degrees Ã¢â‚¬â€œ less than a twentieth of a Fahrenheit degree of Ã¢â‚¬Å“global warmingÃ¢â‚¬Â every year. That is all. Putting it another way, it would take almost a quarter of a century with no carbon-emitting activity at all Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not a single train, plane, automobile, or fossil-fueled power station Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to forestall just 1 Fahrenheit degree of Ã¢â‚¬Å“global warmingÃ¢â‚¬Â.
That is why no Treaty based on controlling the amount of carbon dioxide the world emits can possibly work. And that is why there is no hurry anyway. The only reason for the UNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sense of urgency Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a panic no longer felt by the majority of the delegates here Ã¢â‚¬â€œ is that the bureaucrats know the game is up. Opinion polls throughout the free world show that no one now believes a word of the climate extremistsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ nonsense any more. If they canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get a binding treaty this year, they wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get one at all, and they know it.
I shall be reporting frequently from the conference as events unfold.