Like the disastrous Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban summits before it, the Rio event looks set to be another damp squib, beset by bickering, achieving nothing other than a few vague, non-binding commitments to do something serious some time in the future.
How much simpler things were in the early Nineties. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just produced its first Assessment Report in which the world’s most expert scientists all apparently agreed that the world was doomed to burn in hellfire unless man amended his wicked ways.
The three IPCC reports since then have confirmed this prognosis with increasingly shrill certainty.
But, unfortunately, no one outside the Government and the green movement takes them very seriously any more, because the real world has stubbornly refused to act in accordance with all the climate scientists’ scary predictions.
Sea levels have not risen dramatically. ‘Threatened’ regions such as Tuvalu, the Maldives and Bangladesh have not drowned.
Polar bear populations continue to thrive. Arctic sea ice is recovering while the Antarctic ice is expanding.
But, most damningly of all, global warming stopped at the end of the last century.
And if we’re to believe Fritz Vahrenholt in his bestselling book Die Kalte Sonne (The Cold Sun) it’s in no danger of starting any time soon.
Vahrenholt’s thesis – based on the observations of increasingly respected scientists such as the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark – is that the main agent of climate change is not CO2 but solar radiation.
Much of the mild global warming we’ve experienced in the past 150 years (a rise of about 0.8C) was, it would appear, the result of solar activity (detectable in the number of sun spots) which is now slowing down.
We are entering a period of ‘weak’ solar cycles, and this decline in activity is expected to continue until about 2040, by which time – according to some pessimistic predictions – global mean temperatures will have fallen by 2C.
For many of us, in other words, ‘global warming’ is something we will never experience again in our lifetime. From now on we can expect drabber, wetter summers and colder winters.
And as if that weren’t depressing enough, here are our political leaders regulating and carbon taxing our economies as if the non-existent global warming problem was still something to fear.
This is madness – and one day future historians will see it as such. They will gasp in astonishment that in 2011 the global carbon trading market climbed to a record $176 billion (£113 billion) – about the same as global wheat production.
They will ask how CO2 could be valued as highly as the essential foodstuff that supplies 20 per cent of the calories consumed by the seven billion people on the planet.
A good place for them to start would be the hysteria and optimism of that original Earth summit, in which a mix of panic and good intentions were allowed to override common sense. In short, blame it on Rio.
Yes, madness it is indeed, the entire sad story about catastrophic human caused global warming, as MIT professor Richard Lindzen has pointed out:
Professor Richard S. Lindzen of the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gave a seminar to the House of Commons Committee Rooms in Westminster, London on 22 February 2012.