Sunday, December 04, 2011

A lack of political momentum

Identifying exactly the nature of the "problem", the Independent on Sunday devotes its front page to telling us that the world's ministers and their mandarins "gather in their thousands this weekend to hammer out a plan for the small matter of saving the planet. Yet few of us appear to have noticed".

Despite apocalyptic warnings about temperatures reaching record levels and carbon emissions rising faster than ever, it says, the delegates at the vast UN climate conference in South Africa this weekend could not be further from reaching a deal – or further from the thoughts of a global population gripped by economic fears.

Environmentalists, the paper continues, fear there is now a lack of political momentum behind the green agenda, with the economic crisis being used to railroad through a reduction in habitat protection.

And there is the crucial phrase: "political momentum". It is hard to define in practice, but seasoned observers will always be able to tell whether there is political momentum behind any particular issue. When there is, a cause will seem unstoppable. Without it, no matter what the arguments and imperatives, it will go nowhere.

That is why one can be so confident that climate change, as an issue, is dead in the water. Yes, it still has a half-life and the regulatory overhang is going to do much more damage yet, and cost us a great deal. But, there is no political momentum. The issue isn't going anywhere.

Exactly when the worm turned is difficult to pinpoint. Likely, it was the combination of the failure of Copenhagen, Climategate and the other "gates", and the political assassination of Rajendra Pachauri. Add those to the economic crisis, and the fact that the warmists had overplayed their hand, and one could see the issue withering on the vine.

Climategate II continues apace, but it will never have the impact of the original scandal, simply because climate change has lost its impact. And at the time of the original scandal, I was writing of the final "decline" phase.

Very often, in the aetiology of scares, this proves to be the longest and most damaging. And so it is in this case. But the scare is in decline. Nothing, ever can resuscitate it. And, if the volcanologists have got their predictions right, soon enough we will have something real to worry about. Then we will truly be stuffed.