November 26, 1997
The confrontation with Iraq is tending to conceal an impending policy defeat for
President Clinton that may dwarf his embarrassments over losing Fast Track and the
appropriations for back UN dues. Clinton is planning on going to Kyoto, Japan in early
December to sign a UN treaty called the Climate Change Protocol.
Administration fears of impending embarrassment are reflected in the gag order
that Clinton's lead negotiator in the global-warming talks, Under Secretary of State
Timothy Wirth, is trying to impose on the delegates to Kyoto. He told the 16 GOP and
Democratic delegates to keep their mouths shut and not criticize the Administration's
When then Colorado Senator Tim Wirth was an observer at the 1992 Earth
Summit in Rio de Janeiro, he had no reluctance about blasting the then President. He
accused George Bush of "adolescent politics" and of looking "silly" for not signing the
Biodiversity Treaty that the Rio Summit produced. It's going to be payback time in
Another attempt to intimidate those opposed to global-warming dogma was uttered
by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who now has his own credibility problems. Babbitt
labeled anyone who opposes the treaty "un-American."
The Climate Change Treaty would legally bind us to reduce our energy emissions
to 20 percent below our 1990 levels, and would set 2005 as the year when this goal is to
be reached. This would reduce our gross domestic product by $200 billion annually, cost
us more than a million jobs, and cause massive disruption in the American economy.
These drastic cutbacks would be enforced by the typical liberal "solutions": taxes
and regulations. The Federal Government would impose a massive energy tax that would
drive up the cost of home heating and electricity by 30 to 40 percent and put an additional
tax of at least 60 cents on every gallon of gasoline.
Every product produced with the use of energy including food would increase in
price, and major industries (such as paper, steel, petroleum refining, chemicals,
aluminum, and cement) would be crippled. The average family would pay $1600 to
$4000 per year in increased energy costs.
The rationale behind this treaty is the claim that America's high standard of living,
based on our large consumption of energy produced by burning oil, gas and coal, causes
carbon dioxide emissions, which in turn produce a worrisome warming of the global
atmosphere called the greenhouse effect. The evidence to support this theory is so
unclear, inconclusive and contradictory that it cannot be dignified by the term science.
Clinton's predictions of global warming rely on a 1996 United Nations report. But
before releasing it, the UN bureaucrats deleted two key paragraphs written by the
scientists who made the analysis.
The omitted passages state: (1) "None of the studies cited above has shown clear
evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse
gases," and (2) "No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change
to man-made causes."
The only thing that we know for sure is that temperature fluctuations occur. Many
observers think that global warming, if indeed it is taking place, would be a good thing
and would generate net benefits and savings to the United States.
Science Times suggests that, if our planet is heating up, the cause may be the sun,
over which we have no control. Almost all the demonstrable global warming occurred
before 1940, and so it can't be blamed on the widespread use of the automobile.
The Illinois State Climatologist Office released a report on October 22 stating that
projections from several new international climate models indicate that parts of the
United States will "cool by several degrees Fahrenheit through the year 2050." This
report states that current climate models are now "more realistic" and predict "cooler,
wetter weather for the central United States rather than the warmer and drier predictions
of earlier models."
The Kyoto treaty is manifestly unfair to the United States because Third World
nations, including Mexico, China, Indonesia, India and Brazil, would not be subject to the
emission restrictions imposed on us. That would accelerate the flight of U.S. industries
and jobs to those countries.
In the face of the horrendous costs of this proposed treaty, Clinton will try to
wiggle out of the box that he is in. But all his fall-back positions are bad, too.
One option being discussed is "emissions trading," i.e., to allow industries that find
the emissions limits prohibitively expensive to buy emission permits from the Third
World. That's just a devious type of foreign giveaway and would redistribute U.S. wealth
to other countries (which is probably the real purpose of the treaty anyway).
Another option is to force the taxpayers to finance exotic alternative energy
sources such as solar and wind energy, and automobiles that run 70 miles to the gallon.
Those are just more expensive government boondoggles.
Clinton can't control global climate any more than King Canute could hold back
the tides. But the Kyoto treaty can change the temperature in your home if you can't
afford the high energy taxes to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.