Does Copenhagen summit show stewardship or hypocrisy?

This week world-leading big names, movers and shakers are meeting in Copenhagen to discuss global warming and make large demands and promises about how we’ll deal with this issue of climate change as “citizens of the world”.

I want to feel heartened and mushy at such a grand gesture of humanity, that world leaders are selflessly giving of themselves to discuss how to preserve the wonderful gifts we’ve been given for future generations. Unfortunately, what I’m feeling instead is dismay at the hypocrisy and grandiose promises that have been collected so far.

The UK Telegraph reports: “The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers.

As well 15,000 delegates and officials, 5,000 journalists and 98 world leaders, the Danish capital will be blessed by the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah, Helena Christensen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prince Charles. A Republican US senator, Jim Inhofe, is jetting in at the head of an anti-climate-change “Truth Squad.” The top hotels – all fully booked at £650 a night – are readying their Climate Convention menus of (no doubt sustainable) scallops, foie gras and sculpted caviar wedges.”

Expensive hotels, meals and private jets aside, what could the negotiations at Copenhagen mean for you and I, citizens, who, I’m assuming, would rather hang on to the jobs and security we have than throw them away on the promise of a new, green economy? Founding Bloggers has a great piece on how we’ve been trained to think about this issue. Because we have been entrusted with this planet and we are decent people, we want to believe that we can help save it, and that something in this big, often unpredictable world is actually controlled by our small decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this belief is fundamentally untrue, or that such consciousness of our behavior or thoughtfulness towards this world is at all wrong. On the contrary, being good stewards of our gifts is a Biblical principle.

But I’m not sure that forcing struggling world economies into manufactured panic is being a good steward. For that matter, I’m not sure that using expensive gas guzzlers instead of free, economical transportation is being such a great steward either, nor is unwillingness to practice what we preach.

A great article in the Wall Street Journal points out the economic troubles that are bound to emerge through this meeting: “Even if the Earth does warm by a degree or two this century, the world will be better able to cope with any consequences the more prosperous it is. The worst policy would be to impose higher energy and other costs that reduce global growth for decades. The proponents of cap and trade point to this or that study claiming that a tax on the world’s main current energy supplies (oil, natural gas, coal) is cost free. But this also defies common sense. The Chinese and Indians don’t believe it, and neither do middle-class Americans who can’t easily afford hundreds of dollars a year in extra electricity or transportation costs.”

The middle-class Americans are the ones struggling to make ends meet while digging themselves out of snowdrifts in Wisconsin, and hearing about ClimateGate on the news. Before our leaders decide to force economically withering but dubiously helpful climate policies on us, perhaps they should focus on leading by example and proving the science. After all, the best stewards of all that God has given are not those inspired by fear and power, but by solid, intelligent science, love and conscience.

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