Kyoto resurrected?

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 23, 2001

Stand tall Mr. Bush; the big guns are booming -- and they are aimed at you!

Jan Pronk, current chairman of the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, was in the United States trying desperately to breathe life back into the climate change talks that appeared to have died when the Bush administration announced that the U.S. would back away from the failed discussions.

U.S. President George W. Bush and Christie Todd Whitman walk through the Rose Garden
U.S. President George W. Bush and Christie Todd Whitman walk through the Rose Garden

He met with Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, on April 17, and Christie Todd Whitman the next day, and between the meetings, he held a press conference at the National Press Club, all in an effort to resurrect the Kyoto Protocol from diplomatic limbo.

Delegates to the Hague where the talks collapsed last November, were far more concerned about the latest development in the Florida ballot count than in the climate negotiations. In the halls and at the coffee lounges, the delegates openly expressed their fear that George Bush might actually become President of the United States.

Their fears were justified. Shortly after the inauguration, the Bush administration asked Pronk to reschedule from May to July, a resumption of the failed Kyoto negotiations. Pronk said he convinced the European Union and other nations to agree to the postponement. Then, the Bush administration announced that it would no longer support the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

The announcement caused an eruption of condemnation among environmental organizations, and the entire industry that has grown up around the global warming debate. The press, particularly the international press, has almost universally condemned the Bush announcement. Pronk's visit to the U.S. is a final effort to validate ten years of negotiations by salvaging the Kyoto talks.

"The Kyoto Protocol is not dead -- from my perspective," Pronk told the small group of reporters. "This language is no longer being used by the Bush administration," he said, but quickly added that no one in the administration had said that the Kyoto Protocol was back on the table.

Pronk delivered a lengthy argument in support of the Protocol, and for the need to reach agreement in July. He confirmed that the Protocol's target date for entry into force is still 2002, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the U.N. Earth Summit II, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. A giant celebration called Rio+10, is being planned for Johannesburg, South Africa next year.

Realization of the Kyoto Protocol was to be the crowning achievement of the U.N. effort since Rio, and the beginning of an "authentic global governance," as described by French President Jacques Chirac.

Despite the enormous pressure, the Bush administration should stand firm in its decision to review the policy the U.S. has pursued in the past. The previous administration fully supported the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, differing only on issues of method and modality. The previous administration -- like the global warming industry -- refused to even consider information that seriously challenges the wisdom of the Kyoto policies.

Pronk said the U.S. must agree on two issues of paramount importance: (1) the science of global warming is settled; and (2) a solution to the problem must be multilateral (meaning: under the auspices of the United Nations). If the U.S. agrees to these principles, then the process will be salvaged, even if the Protocol is not ratified on schedule.

Both of these principles must be rejected. The science is far from settled, and if there is a problem, the solution must not be left to the United Nations. Pronk and his cohorts insist that the science is settled, in hopes of excluding from consideration the growing body of scientific evidence that discredits the premature conclusions upon which the policies of the Kyoto Protocol were constructed.

Pronk said correctly, that there is consensus among the scientists within the "U.N. family." He also said that since the failed talks at the Hague, the U.N. scientific team had discovered new evidence that "global warming is worse than had been previously thought," and that it was progressing at a more rapid rate.

Such reports from the "U.N. family" must be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism. Observers of the global warming process know full well that the Third Assessment Report, the actual IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report of the scientists included this conclusion:

"In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate is not possible."

The press release referred to by Pronk, is not from the actual scientific report, but from a summary written by bureaucratic policy makers, the "U.N. family." It was a reinterpretation and a restatement of old, selective science, designed expressly to ratchet up the emotional response and increase the pressure on the Kyoto negotiators.

The "U.N. family" carefully ignores those scientists who produce results that are not consistent with U.N. objectives. When scientific challenges do rise to public notice, those scientists are often demeaned and discredited by the "U.N. family."

Dr. Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the IPCC summary is, "very much a children's exercise of what might possibly happen,' prepared by a 'peculiar group' with 'no technical competence."

This condemnation of the "U.N. family's" so called scientific consensus cannot be ignored by the Bush administration or the American people. Lindzen is one of an increasing number of scientists who cannot accept the political declaration that the "science is settled" on global climate. An observation about which there is genuine scientific consensus, is the apparent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last century.

The "U.N. family" is convinced that this increase is the primary cause of global warming, which computers say will occur over the next 100 years. The same computer models, however, when applied to the known conditions of the last 100 years, say that the global temperature should have risen much, much higher than it has.

Many scientists are joining in the speculation that increasing carbon may be a benefit to the planet, since it is known that 98 percent of all plants grow faster, produce more, and use water more efficiently, in direct correlation to the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere.

Dr. Sherwood Idso, a U.S. government scientist, has been monitoring plant growth in elevated carbon environments for nearly 20 years. His research is impeccable. Science does not yet understand all the factors that make the weather behave as it does for more than a few days; it certainly does not know what makes the climate behave as it does over a century. The scientific community should continue to study and try to understand the complexities of the climate.

Should continued studies indicate that human activity is, in fact, causing a potentially catastrophic problem, then competent governments should work together to find appropriate solutions. If the United Nations has any role to play in the solution to any problem, that role should be defined by member nations, not by U.N. agencies such as the IPCC or the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).

Stand tall, Mr. Bush; don't let Jan Pronk, or the press that follows him around, talk you into resurrecting the Kyoto Protocol, which has already claimed far more time, effort and energy than reality can justify.

Let's get on with taking care of America first.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Hail to the Chief: No Kyoto! by Henry Lamb (April 2, 2001)
    In the light of his decision on the Kyoto Treaty, Henry Lamb has nothing but good words for Dubya
  • A contrarian view of climate change - The Satanic Gasses: Clearing the Air about Global Warming reviewed by Steven Martinovich (March 12, 2001)
    Steven Martinovich finds evenhanded arguments against global warming orthodoxies in The Satanic Gasses: Clearing the Air about Global Warming
  • Bush is as green as Gore! by Alan Caruba (March 5, 2001)
    When it comes to global warming, George W. Bush may not talk like Al Gore, but Alan Caruba says the evidence suggests they are of like minds. Just ask Christie Whitman

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