The Heritage Foundation’s Steven Groves and Ben Lieberman are live at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference reporting from a conservative perspective. Follow their reports on The Foundry and at the Copenhagen Consequences Web site.

The tiny Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu is a perfect microcosm of what is wrong with both global warming policy and the UN Copenhagen climate conference. Although it has a population of only 12,000, Tuvalu has garnered a great deal of attention here at Copenhagen, thanks to the claim that it is perhaps the nation most vulnerable to climate change.

The Island sits barely above sea level, thus Tuvaluan officials (along with their many activist friends here) are claiming that they risk being obliterated by rising seas caused by global warming. “Being one of the most vulnerable countries in the world, our future rests on the outcome of this meeting,” said Ian Fry, an official with Tuvalu’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

As is so often the case, the global warming threat is overstated. Even the United Nation’s 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (putting aside for a moment the Climategate-fueled concerns that this study is overly alarmist) projects 7 to 23 inches of sea level rise by century’s end. The lower end of this range is little different from historic rates – sea levels tend to rise between ice ages – and is a far cry from Al Gore’s scary claim of 18 to 20 feet in his book and documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

Even more amazing, measurements show no sea level rise at all (actually a slight decline) around Tuvalu for the last half of the 20th century, even during decades where temperatures increased. (Cabanes et el., Science, “Sea Level Rise During Past 40 years Determined from Satellite and In Situ Observations, vol. 294, pp 840-842.)

Unwilling to let the facts get in the way of a good handout, Tuvalu is demanding foreign aid from the U.S. and other developed nations in order to cope with global warming. Tuvalu has also joined with other small island nations in demanding that developed nations to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions.

The misuse of global warming fears as an excuse for a self interested agenda – what is true of Tuvalu is true of much of what is on display in Copenhagen.