I think I was seven when I first read about buying and selling indulgences in a novel set in 16th-century Belgium. The idea struck me as rather dumb even then, at least from the point of view of the buyers.
Are we having some kind of neo-middle-ages now? Blasphemers are being burned at the stake, world leaders talk about impending end that is about to befall us for our sins and in general sound like apocalyptic madmen, and otherwise perfectly sensible people are buying carbon indulgences. Sold, no doubt, by people who are strongly and publicly concerned for the environment.
As I have said before, I am a simple woman who doesn't know much about climate science. No, I am not pretending to be a prole here, but of my two degrees one is in Linguistics and the other is in Computer Science, and none is in Meteorology or Climate Science. So probably I shouldn't be saying anything. On the other hand, these considerations about the lack of education don't seem to deter anyone else, starting with Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an avid air traveler and an engineer.
(A mean-spirited Guardian commenter calculated Mr. Pachauri's travel miles for the period of Jan 07 - July 08 at 443243, based on his his public appearance schedule. Mr. Pachauri supports heavy aviation taxes, which IPCC will undoubtedly pay for him.)
There is some disturbing point about science and faith in here somewhere. We take our science on faith; we believe in whatever they tell us in secondary-school astronomy much the same way as some centuries ago people believed when they were told that the sun revolved around the earth. What makes the difference is the scientific method and the scientific consensus; how much faith are you ready to put in either of those after those emails from Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia got published? Especially since the message is pretty much "the end is nigh, give us power and money"?
(A very disturbing off-topic aside: the reason we abhor the human sacrifices of the ancient cultures is that we know they didn't work; if they did, we'd be totally doing it all the time.)
Anyway, as I've said before, I might not know much about climate, but I sure know politics, religion and bullshit when I see it. I am sure I am the least environmentally conscious person in the Western world. I use energy-saving lamps because I happen to like them, public transportation because I live in a place where it is very good, and I wouldn't ever think of giving up anything I really wanted for the environment. But you know, I suspect that if I really cared, like all those politicians surely do, I'd at least consider some small sacrifices. Like, flying first-class in a commercial aircraft instead of taking my own private jet? Or maybe at least carpooling, or rather private-jet-pooling with some other dignitary coming from the same city?
But that's just me, and that's probably why they don't invite me to any summits. Prince Charles and Gordon Brown apparently felt it was unprincely or un-prime-ministerial to share the same private jet.
Just before the summit, the Copenhagen airport reported that it was expecting 140 extra private jets, and was unable to accomodate them all, so they'd have to be parked in other Danish airports and in Sweden. More than 1200 limos were ordered.
Is it just me, or does it seem to you that those people don't believe in the imminent apocalypse any more than I do?
Wish we knew the names of everyone who attended the global warming (sorry, it's climate change now) summit in private jets and then came home and told the peasants not to fly on vacation. People should know their heroes.