Copenhagen was a cold town last week for the global-warming crowd. The expected reorganization of the world economy to fit the green template vanished amid blizzard conditions in a country that has had just seven white Christmases in the past century. God certainly has a sense of humor.
President Obama showed up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference having been assured he would be able to make history, only to find that the proceedings were a flop. The promised treaty - billed with the characteristic understatement of the alarmist community as "the single most important piece of paper in the world today" - was an anticlimax. Earlier drafts conjured images of world government, command economies and a future free of the evils of greenhouse gasses. It promised a green utopia.
However, as the conference neared, huge gaps in the treaty language persisted. The final three-page version was tossed together in the closing hours with little deliberation and wound up saying little. The much-ballyhooed treaty promises next to nothing, other than a $100 billion slush fund for Third World dictators to "adapt to climate change," which probably involves buying mansions in southern France.
Mr. Obama's speech reflected the general frustration of the hour and was uncharacteristically flat and angry. The president fumed that it was "not a time to talk but to act," but we wonder why he's in such a hurry. There is no particular crisis. The inflated gravitas of the event was punctured by the ongoing collapse of the scientific basis for global-warming theory in the wake of the scandal about fudged scientific research.
The latest hit to climate-change credibility comes via an embarrassing revelation from Ben Santer, one of the lead authors of the 1995 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I report, which is one of the holy documents of global-warming theology. Mr. Santer admitted that he deleted sections of the document that stated that humans were not responsible for climate change.
Also on Tuesday, the Institute of Economic Analysis in Moscow claimed that the influential Hadley Centre for Climate Change at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter, England, apparently had tampered with Russian climate data. According to the Russians, the Hadley Centre used numbers that showed temperatures rising and omitted data that did not support global-warming conclusions. We are witnessing the rolling collapse of one of history's great intellectual frauds. Global warming is turning out to be a lot of hot air.
The Chinese seem to have been on the right side of this debate all along. China was viewed as the major stumbling block at the conference, and Mr. Obama met privately with Premier Wen Jiabao to try to iron out the wrinkles. It's ironic that dictatorial goons like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe blamed capitalism for the world's global-warming ills while China puts the brakes on monitoring emissions. Having weighed all the factors, Beijing would rather be an economic powerhouse.
The only reason China gives lip service to the global-warming alarmist agenda is to hamper the competition - and our Democratic president is falling for the trap. Mr. Obama pledged that the United States would move forward with strict emissions limits whether or not the international community did the same. From Beijing's perspective, if the foolish Americans want to wreck their economy based on the misguided belief that they are saving polar bears, who is China to say no?