home > archive > 2004 > this article
Kerry and Kyoto: Killing the dream
By Cheryl K. Chumley
Forefront of presidential candidate John Kerry's environmental policy is to enact the Kyoto Protocol. He says as much in his "Vision for a Cleaner Environment, a Stronger Economy and Healthier Communities."
"The U.S. must join the international community and begin to constrain emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are already changing the climate of our planet," he purports.
Of course, an elected Kerry can't act independently of the Senate, according to Article Two, Section Two of the Constitution, which gives the president "power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators present concur." But he already has the vote of at least one senator – John McCain (R-Ariz.), who staunchly continues to promote passage of his Climate Stewardship Act, a failed endeavor to regulate greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions that he stubbornly refuses to let die.
On the global level, the issue of climate change is heating, too.
Just a few days ago, England Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to bring the issue of climate change before the next scheduled meeting of the world's industrial superpowers in hopes of forcing G-8 nations to embrace the Kyoto Protocol. It's doubtful President Bush, who has so far refused ratification of this U.N. document, will feel pressured into changing his mind, even as a sort of quid pro quo for Blair's outspoken support of America during the war against terrorism and Iraq.
But Kerry? That's a different matter, and though this is one issue he can be proud of not flip-flopping – his penchant for all things Green speaks too loudly for that – it also happens to be one that flies in the face of what's best for America. And while this upcoming election should be considered crucial in terms of achieving the goals of the war on terrorism, or of the judicial make-up of our nation's federal court system, it should also be noted for its potential at solidifying the direction of another battle, namely the rage against environmental radicalism from both domestic and international sources.
Kerry condemns Bush for refusing "to confront the serious consequences of rising greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence" and for pursuing "half-hearted voluntary measures that have simply maintained the status quo." But status quo with the Kyoto Protocol is a good thing. Ratification means America's largest producers – the energy, agricultural and manufacturing sectors – would be forced to roll back the clock and control greenhouse gas emissions to the levels in 1990, which in turn would depress our national economy. How? By diminishing supply even in the face of escalating demand and this, of course, brings about higher consumer prices.
This is hardly in line with free-market principle, the concept upon which this nation has flourished for decades. But worse still is violation of this core American issue: What about sovereignty?
"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world...," said George Washington, our nation's first president, during his 1796 farewell address to the nation.
Truly, is there any alliance that contradicts this wise instruction of Washington's more than environmental treaties, or any treaties at all for that matter, with the United Nations? What this country needs, more than a well-funded military, more than a strategic defense against terrorists, more even than quick-fix appointees to the judicial system, is a strong leader who is not afraid to tell the world that America can stand alone.
We need a president who not only believes America is still the best country in the world, but who also does not shy from repeating this belief ad nauseum, without fear. Because from such steadfast conviction will naturally spawn a formidable military, a clear vision for battling terrorists, an honorable judicial system based on Founding Father intent, as restored pride leads citizens to cast off the socialist coat our country currently wears and demand accountability from the politicians who have so blatantly led us astray.
The quick answer to conclude now is that Kyoto can be stopped by electing Bush rather than Kerry, McCain's Climate Stewardship Act should be put through the shredder, and Blair's statements ought to be dismissed, since he is not an American citizen.
But to do such would be to miss the bigger picture: The dream of our nation is dying, and environmental plans like Kyoto represent just one small drop in an overall rainstorm that has swept our country into a quagmire of entangling alliances.
Cheryl K. Chumley is a freelance columnist who may be contacted at
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996 - 2005, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.