Key Points:

For a couple of weeks in December, 10,000-odd politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, activists and journalists from over 100 countries invaded Bali for a conference on climate change that probably created enough carbon debits to keep a country like ours in hock for years.

And, of course, it generated vast amounts of hot air which, if global warming had anything to do with mankind's activities, would have seriously contributed to the problem.

This newspaper devoted a page (generally tinted green) a day to the two-week talkfest, but nowhere was there mention of what could have been the most important document tabled.

It was a letter written on behalf of more than 100 prominent scientists from around the world, including at least seven from New Zealand, to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

And it said that the climate conference was taking the world in entirely the wrong direction because significant new peer-reviewed research had cast even more doubt on the theory of dangerous human-caused warming.

"Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile," the scientists wrote, "and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems."

So in the interests of fairness and balance (now where have I read those words lately?) here is a synopsis of what the climate experts, many of whom are present and former members of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had to say in their letter.

It was not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that had affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attested to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, rainfall, winds and other climatic variables.

What was needed, therefore, was to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of those natural phenomena by promoting economic growth.

The scientists wrote that the IPCC had issued increasingly alarming conclusions about the climatic influences of human-produced carbon dioxide.

But, they wrote, it was not established that it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions.

"Any attempts to do so will slow development and the UN's approach to CO2 reduction is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it."

The letter said the panel's summaries for policymakers were the most widely read IPCC reports among politicians and non-scientists and were the basis for most climate change policy formulation.

Yet those summaries were prepared by a relatively small core writing team with the final drafts approved line-by-line by Government representatives.

The great majority of IPCC contributors and reviewers, and the tens of thousands of other scientists qualified to comment on such matters, were not involved.

The letter said recent observations of phenomena such as glacial retreats, sea-level rise and migration of temperature-sensitive species were not evidence for abnormal climate change because none of those changes had been shown to be outside the bounds of natural variability.

The average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0.2C each decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century fell within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the past 10,000 years.

The letter said leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledged that today's computer models could not predict climate. Consistent with that, and despite computer projections of temperature rises, there had been no net global warming since 1998.

That today's temperature plateau followed a late 20th-century period of warming was consistent with the continuation of natural millennial climate cycling.

Now I would have thought that these assertions, backed by scientific evidence, would have thrilled the Bali conferees to bits, and they would have quickly packed up and gone home to get on with more important things.

But no. For global warming is to environmentalists these days what smoking is to health professionals - a convenient vehicle for extracting large sums from Governments (taxpayers) and industry, and a convenient scapegoat to blame for a raft of perceived problems.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: blaming CO2 emissions for climate change is an international rort.