Who says that we live in a secular age? I'll have you know that a recent U.N. climate change conference began with a prayer that the delegates would receive divine inspiration as they went about saving the planet.
Of course, the deity being prayed to was not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ but, rather, a goddess who demanded regular sacrifices, including the occasional human one. Given what is going on at Cancun, this invocation seems oddly fitting.
The "invocation" was given by Christiana Figueres at the start of the conference in Cancun, Mexico. Perhaps inspired by the setting, Figueres invoked the Mayan goddess Ixchel.
Noting that Ixchel was the "goddess of reason, creativity and weaving," Figueres "prayed" that the jaguar goddess would "inspire" the delegates.
This is the kind of self-parody that even the U.N.'s biggest critics couldn't make up. Ixchel is often depicted as a "fierce hag" who, in her capriciousness, is just as likely to cause devastating floods as gentle rains that make crops grow.
It's self-parody, but it's consistent with the whole out-of-touch atmosphere of the conference. For instance, as delegates met in Cancun, Europe is enjoying the start of its coldest winter in decades-what German meteorologists fear might be the "winter of the millennium."
It's not just Europe: the first three days of the conference saw record lows in Cancun. Activists will no doubt say "weather is not climate," at least when the weather outside is frightful. When it's hot, they cite as evidence for their argument.
Unfortunately for them, one of their number has let the cat out of the bag. Economist Ottmar Edenhofer, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told a Zurich newspaper what many climate change skeptics already knew: what is going on Cancun, and for that matter, in Copenhagen and Kyoto before that, has little to do with climate.
Edenhofer told the paper that climate policy "has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore." Instead, meetings like the one in Cancun are about "global trade and financial policies." They are about a redistribution of the world's resources from the industrialized world to the developing world.
There is nothing per se wrong about talking about how to make poorer countries more wealthy. And there is certainly nothing wrong with discussions about more equitable trade and financial policies. What's wrong is doing under the guise of "climate change" with all the fear-mongering associated with the subject.
Not only is it dishonest -it's counterproductive.
Well-known environmental writer Bjorn Lomborg isn't a climate-change skeptic, but he convincingly argues that for a fraction of what activists propose we spend on curbing CO2 emissions, we could make a significant dent in truly-pressing problems like HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, clean water and sanitation. These kinds of investments could save hundreds of millions of lives.
But there's no indication that the U.N. climate change officials lifted up these concerns before their Mayan goddess.
Like I said: Out of touch.