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CEO Column: Hypocrisy

Webster’s Dictionary defines hypocrisy as “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not.” It further defines hypocrisy as “the false appearance of virtue or religious belief.”
When unveiling his Clean Power Plan in August 2015, President Obama said, “No challenge presents a greater threat to our future and future generations than a change in climate.” President Obama has stated numerous times — even within the last 60 days — that climate change is a greater threat than ISIS or terrorism. 
World leaders met last week in Paris at the United Nations 2015 Conference on Climate Change to discuss an agreement for the global reduction of carbon emissions to ensure a better future for the world. The tag line for the conference was, “Long Live the Planet. Long Live Humanity. Long Live Life Itself.” A bold theme for bold people. 
Of course, President Obama attended the conference as did China’s Chairman Xi and other global leaders. They were there to express deep concern for the planet’s future, the seriousness of reaching an agreement on carbon reductions and to resolve the world’s greatest threat.
It is ironic that the conference was convened in Paris, where, just a month before, an orchestrated ISIS terrorist attack killed 158 people and injured dozens more. It is ironic that President Obama attended the meeting and expressed his belief that climate change is more of a threat than terrorism, despite the attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 people and wounded numerous others.  
What is more important to you? The increasing number and intensity of terrorist attacks or the undefined, speculative and uncertain threats of climate change? My bet is that victims’ families would consider terrorist violence a far greater concern. Nevertheless, world leaders express more distress about climate change than terrorism.  
The climate change debate takes different shapes. Some leaders attended the Conference to make their claim for a portion of and to secure a binding commitment for the $100 billion per year in climate aid for developing countries promised by President Obama at the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. China and India pressed their position that they are still developing countries and entitled to their portions of the climate aid to continue economic development. In the meantime, China expands its coal consumption 2.6 percent a year, and India expands its coal use 5 percent a year. Of course, China promises to reduce its carbon intensity in 2030, but that is a commitment of energy efficiency — not necessarily a commitment to reduce coal usage like President Obama is pledging.
While world leaders gathered in Paris to posture about the threats of climate change, 1.4 billion children live in poverty and are malnourished, 2.6 billion people lack clean drinking water, billions of children are deprived of adequate medical care, and billions of people lack reliable electric service. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has found that the politically correct movement of climate aid actually diverts money from feeding the hungry and providing medical care in developing countries. Apparently our plan is to help people prepare for the future ravages of climate change but deny them the basic necessities of life in the current time frame.  
Author and humorist P.J. O’Rourke refers to issues like climate change as “fashionable worries.” Climate change is sexier than feeding starving children, providing medical care in poor countries or providing affordable energy for developing countries. Success in resolving climate change is not as objective, measurable or transparent as providing food and health care to the poor. For politicians, climate change is the perfect problem. The threat cannot be solved in the near term, the danger is difficult to predict and measure, and politicians are less accountable in resolving the problems. All they need is for us to trust them to do the right thing, not question their motives or actions, provide billions of tax revenues to fund their efforts, and they will solve the problem in about 80 years. 
To hold such a superficial, do-nothing meeting and declare climate change as the most important issue in today’s world in a city still recovering from terrorist attacks and to proclaim climate change more important than people killed by terrorists at times when children lack food, clean water and health care is just hypocrisy. But such is our world.
I hope you have a good month.

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