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Home > Students Introduce Diversity of Opinion to Copenhagen Conference

Students Introduce Diversity of Opinion to Copenhagen Conference

January 21st, 2010

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

Rogge in front of conference sign

In mid-December, during one of the chilliest European winters in more than a decade, a United Nations international conference on “global warming” took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The ironic timing of the conference was hardly lost on one conservative environmental organization, CFACT (Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow), which sent their own skeptical representatives to observe the proceedings. Among the politically-charged multitudes who crossed the ocean into a blizzard both ideological and meteorological were two Patrick Henry College students, Ryan Rogge and Joshua Nadal, representing CFACT as student leaders.

“We went,” explains Rogge, “to protest policies that would endanger the poor globally, hurt industry, and increase the socialistic nature in any country that signed on.”

Joining other CFACT leaders, such as a former Texas Congressman Steve Stockman, and Lord Monckton from the British House of Lords, Rogge and Nadal landed in Denmark and immediately began coordinating on-site activities to present a competing view of the global warming controversy. They held mini-conferences, showed up at rallies, and otherwise ensured that a conservative perspective was represented at the left-leaning summit. Among the groups gathered from across the ideological spectrum, CFACT held a Climate Sense conference. This distinctly pro-environment platform supported an alternative body of facts and findings which, if viewed objectively, cast the “foregone conclusion” of climate-change in a different light. Another conference, appropriately named the ICE summit (International Climate Eco-Summit), provided student leaders like Rogge and Nadal a rare opportunity to introduce conservative-leaning Norwegian students to alternative evidence.

Rogge and other CFACT student leaders in front of "polar bear" skeleton encased in ice

“In general, we waved signs, shouted, and went looking for media,” Rogge recalls. “Because we were by far in the minority [at the conference], or since we were one of the few opposing views, they (media) found us.”

One day, the duo stood out like sore thumbs among 70,000 protestors gathered in front of the Copenhagen government buildings to protest for cap-and-trade policies that will allegedly reduce carbon emissions in developed countries. Rogge, Nadal, and a few dozen others were there to counter-protest.

“I saw card-carrying Communists, members of Green Peace…” recalls Rogge. “It’s one of those issues everyone latches onto.” At one point, an angry activist jabbed a flagpole in Nadal’s chest, and a potentially dangerous scuffle was narrowly averted.

Another time, CFACT operatives borrowed tactics common to environmental activist groups like Green Peace – such as draping banners from the sides of building – to gain attention to their cause. Some CFACT members deftly boarded a Green Peace boat entitled Rainbow Warrior that was floating in the harbor, unfurled a banner with the legend “Propaganda Warrior,” and left it hanging on the side of the boat—where it stayed, says Rogge, for “several hours.” It was simply another in a series of fascinating, at times mind-boggling, sights and events that consumed the PHC students in Copenhagen.

PHC student Josh Nadal is interviewed by a member of the media

Since returning from their Denmark adventure, Rogge, now in his last semester at PHC, has continued working for CFACT through the PHC chapter of Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, CFACT’s college outreach. He will continue to work to raise awareness of the diversity of global warming opinions through events like the upcoming “Global Warming Beach Party” to be held at George Washington University during a talk by economics writer Thomas Friedman. Locally, he and other student leaders will continue this semester to research issues raised by environmental groups to determine their validity, and will help coordinate a nature hike and trash pick-up.

“We want to be relevant locally,” he says.

Rogge says he hopes to find a full-time job with CFACT after graduating in May, a direction he would never have anticipated as a freshman. Heavily involved in regional political campaigns throughout his four years at PHC, he says he “slowly fell in love” with the world of non-profit organizations through internship experiences and the months he spent working as a personal assistant for Dr. Michael Farris, PHC Chancellor and College founder. In the process, he married a PHC classmate (senior Rebecca Rogge, a former CFACT intern), and found his plans shifted yet again.

“I learned through working on political campaigns that I enjoyed management,” says Rogge. “But I’m married now, so I need to be more consistent than the campaign cycle would allow. In the non-profit world, I can work based on issues of interest, advancing important causes. Hopefully, I have learned from Dr. Farris’s ability to discern way in advance what issues will be relevant.”