The chaos in Copenhagen offered a powerful, and sobering, illustration of how far the world's governments are from negotiating an accord to bring climate change under control. Those who believe that a robust and binding climate framework is essential have been left depressed and demoralized. Many now fear that a global governance system that is unable to respond to one of the toughest threats the world faces must, in fact, be broken.
History suggests (.pdf) that the climate change priesthood will soldier on, insisting that a deal needs just one more push. Meanwhile, they'll bury the process ever further in impenetrable language, while watering down expectations and shying away from hard truths, especially if these risk upsetting either of climate change's big beasts -- China and the United States.
This would be a mistake. Copenhagen failed to deliver a serious deal because governments were too slow to level with one another about what they wanted. Leaders spent most of the summit trying to find out what was going on rather than resolving disagreements.