Killing the Globe to Save It

During the Vietnam war, an American officer was reported to have described an operation as “destroying the town in order to save it.” That oxymoron became an icon of military double-speak.

That quote came to mind while reading this article by AP’s Robin McDowell, describing the carbon impact of the climate change conference currently underway in Bali, Indonesia.

The U.N. estimates 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants will be pumped into the atmosphere during the 12-day conference in Bali, mostly from plane flights but also from waste and electricity used by hotel air conditioners.

If correct, [Chris] Goodall said, that is equivalent to what a Western city of 1.5 million people, such as Marseilles, France, would emit in a day.

But he believes the real figure will be twice that, more like 100,000 tons, close to what the African country of Chad churns out in a year.

Conference organizers are making a good-faith effort to stay “green” by using recycled paper and making bicycles available to attendees.

Yet SUVs, taxis and other cars sit in long lines at the gates to the site, spewing out exhaust as they wait to get through security checkpoints.

And this is just one of several conferences that have been or will be conducted on this issue.

The pace is only expected to pick up, prompting some to ask if the issue is creating a “cure” industry as various groups claim a stake in efforts to curb global warming.

Trust me — if there is money to be made in this new “industry,” the conferences will keep on coming, whatever the carbon cost. But it’s okay, because it’s all in the name of saving the planet.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, I’ll believe global warming is a crisis as soon as those who keep telling me it is a crisis start acting as if it were a crisis.

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