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In The Arena: Keeping Global Warming Drumbeat Going and...
By Rich Jefferson
Date Posted: 2/1/2001
In November, when people in the warm state of Florida were explaining to the rest of us why they couldnít read a ballot, many of the people concerned about global warming went to The Hague, the capital of the Netherlands.
These concerned people have been meeting off and on for a long time. In the late 1980s, for example, there was the Montreal Protocol, which banned chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants (CFCs). Then there was the 1992 global warming rally in Rio De Janeiro, formally called the United National Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
The Rio rally helped Al Gore crystalize his main political message. As climatologists Pat Michaels and Robert Balling put it, when Gore ran for president last year, he blamed "every weather catastrophe he could find...on global warming. It is an effective campaign strategy: Vote for me or you might die."
There has been a series of global warming rallies since Rio. They are called, for our convenience, COPs. COP is an acronym for Convention of the Parties. The third meeting, COP3, produced the famous 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the mother of all global warming deals. If America entered into the Kyoto treaty, the pact would require the U.S. to whack carbon dioxide emissions down to 1990 levels. There are reasons why the European Union favors 1990 levels, as we will see.
Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are said to be the chief cause of global warming ó if indeed global warming is a real phenomenon. Coal-burning power plants release significant amounts of carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing electrical power output ó in order to achieve a radical cut in carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol ó would leave the U.S. economy in shambles. At the same time, it would do almost nothing to alter supposed global warming.
COP6 was held in The Hague this past November. Grooving to the political beat, representatives from more than 170 countries kept the party of conventions going, and going, and going, and...
After six COPs, supposed global warming still has not been arrested. Itís hard to make an arrest when you donít know exactly what youíre after. And what youíre after may not exist in the form you suspect it does. The science behind global warming is not settled, regardless of what the COPs say.
Science is sometimes messy. Itís big and complicated. To get at the scientific truth about something is much harder than making pithy but questionable statements about global warming. Itís easy to make unsubstantiated claims, such as, "The 20th century is the warmest on record in 1,000 years!" The truth is that our temperature records are only credible back to the 1950s, and the proxy records found in nature, such as tree rings, ice cores, and ocean sediment, indicate no warming since 1940. So how could anyone know how comparatively warm or cold the 20th century has really been?
There is more. Fred Singer is a meteorologist who is dedicated to keeping the COPs straight. (He has a Web site at www.SEPP.org.) He was in The Hague, along with the global warming adherents. He acknowledges that surface temperature readings since 1975 appear to show warming, and that some of the hottest years were in the 1990s. However, temperature readings provided by satellite reveal no warming trend. As Singer says, the satellites could be wrong, or more likely: there were hot surface temperatures during those years but no global warming.
Do you think his views were reported by the news media? They are more interested in those who are winning the political fight about global warming than they are in the truth about global warming.
The COPs are after us, but the reason is not global warming. Not really. The underlying issues are political and economic.
The Kyoto Protocol, a deal brokered by Al Gore but which still has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate, would do untold damage to the U.S. economy. Maybe that explains why the European Union wants all the COPs to sign the protocol ASAP. Reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels, per the Kyoto Protocol, would harm U.S. businesses. The radical restrictions imposed by the accord could send the U.S. economy into a nosedive not unlike the Great Depression.
Why are the Europeans so adamant about reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels? Craig Rucker, executive director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (www.cfact.org), also was in The Hague in November. He explains why. "England had a coal strike in 1990 and switched a large amount of its electricity generation from coal to natural gas. By virtue of this transition, the European Union can comply with the Kyoto treaty for things already done. It will not hurt the European Union one bit. But returning to the 1990 levels could badly hurt the U.S. And because the European continent is treated as a unit in Kyoto carbon dioxide reductions, not as separate countries, Englandís 1990 reductions would figure for all of Europe."
Fortunately, the U.S. Senate has said it would not ratify the treaty if it hurts the economy, which Kyoto surely would.
Kyoto will not go away with a new administration in Washington, however. It may be renamed, but global warming is too useful to the United Nations and those who long to see some international body in charge of population control, the environment, and other issues. This became clear when French President Jacques Chirac called the recent meeting in The Hague an important step toward "global governance."
If the advocates of Kyoto really want to heat things up, they should tell the U.S. public the truth about what theyíre advocating.
(Editorís Note: Rich Jefferson worked in the office of the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources from 1994-1995. In addition, he worked at a state agency within the natural resources secretariat; he was public relations manager of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries from 1995-1997. Rich may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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