Many at COP-3 are behaving as if the Clinton-Gore administration speaks for the U.S -- as if the eager quest for an aggressive global energy restriction treaty was the goal of most Americans. Fortunately, while Clinton and Gore do indeed represent one element of the American polity, they do not speak for the American people. Under the US Constitution, powers are divided and the US Congress has a separate but equal voice on policy matters. Before any treaty becomes law, the US Senate must advise and consent. Before any new funds are spent, the House and the Senate must both concur. While the "emerging consensus" at Kyoto is warming the hearts of Administration officials, it is getting a cool reception from US legislators.
US Senators attending COP-3 are getting hot under the collar at what they consider irresponsible negotiating by Clinton-Gore officials, which may result in harsher energy restrictions for the US economy than for its Third World trading partners. Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming described the Kyoto conference as "an economic meeting disguised as an environmental meeting," reports Bonner Cohen of the Earth Times. A disbelieving Sen. Enzi mocked the entire conference as "a Chinese plot to restrict the growth of the American economy," noting the People's Republic of China's flat refusal to join the UN's incipient global energy rationing regime.
Nebraska GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, of Byrd-Hagel resolution fame, is similarly perturbed. In his view, the Clinton-Gore administration is not paying sufficient attention to the issue of national sovereignty. Nor are the negotiators in Kyoto paying heed to the formidable scientific evidence against the global warming hypothesis (in fact, they are doing their best to suppress open and honest scientific debate).
It doesn't help matters that the US State Department seems to be going out of its way to antagonize American legislators. One example: environmental activist Curtis Moore, former aide to the late Senator Ed Muskie, asked why the Administration was not pushing for even more aggressive energy reduction targets. He provided an excuse - he understood how hard it was to take the correct stands when reactionary legislators such as Senator Hagel were looking over their shoulders. Moore went on to note that, although he intended no disrespect, Senator Hagel had received some $70,000 in contributions from energy companies. The Administration's respondent dodged the substantive question but made no attempt to address the attack on the senator's integrity.
Should the Kyoto treaty ever make its way to Washington's Capitol Hill, expect it to face serious scrutiny.
We're Already Feeling the Kyoto Chill
Reporters, delegates, NGOs, and other climate conference participants are already experiencing what life will be like on an energy starvation diet. In keeping with the fanaticism of the occasion, the thermostat of the Kyoto conference hall has been turned WAY down. Outside, three penguin ice carvings still stand, placed there by greens who planned for the ice birds to melt in the "warming" climate. Mother Nature is obviously not cooperating for the television cameras. The politically-incorrect air in Kyoto is positively cold. Shivering conference-goers are walking around with coats, scarves, even gloves - indoors. Hasn't anybody at the UN considered the human health effects of under-heated facilities? People of the world, this is your future if the global warming lobby gets its way.
Seizing the Moment
Debate is severely muted at Kyoto - not surprisingly given the large number of true believers who are leading this Green Children's Crusade. There are, of course, discussion meetings among the various NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and today we free market environmentalists tried to enter a meeting to present our views. Despite the clear notice that this was a "public" meeting of environmental NGOs, we were politely but firmly ejected.
Believing that All Things should be Considered, we have elected to mount our own seminar. We're titling it "A Contrarian Briefing on Global Warming Policy" and have pulled together a scratch team from among the tiny number of contrarians attending the conference: Science and Environmental Policy Project's Fred Singer on the scientific issues; the Hoover Institution's Thomas Gale Moore on the beneficial aspects of global warming; Mark Kirk of the House International Relations Committee on the politics of the climate talks; Charles River Associates' David Montgomery on the economic costs of carbon withdrawal; CEI's Fred Smith on climate change prevention versus adaptation/resiliency. We've invited the entire press corps to the event - and expect lots of hostile questions.
A Word from Our Sponsors
Let it never be said that CEI's efforts in Kyoto have gone unnoticed. On one of our shivering tours of the chilly halls of the conference center, we happened upon a draft report listing the "Forces of Darkness" and found -- yes, you guessed it, our name. A bit unfair since we're the ones who believe in keeping the light bulbs of the world burning brightly. Then again, objective fairness was never meant to be the hallmark of the Kyoto Conference. The draft described the "infamous" CEI as no friend of the earth, and even accused us technophiles of advocating "junk" science. Worse, it implied that we are advancing "climate confusionism" - could this be the application of ancient Eastern philosophy to the issue of global warming?
All of this recalls the story told by Mark Twain of the individual who was tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Asked later about the event, he stated: "Well, if it hadn't have been for the honor, I would rather have walked." Still, this incident does suggest that civility is quickly vanishing from what was already a fierce intellectual debate. The Kyoto global warming lobby clearly views the climate treaty as offering its best hope of erecting a global regulatory apparatus with real power over the world economy. The environmentalist establishment will fight fiercely to ensure that its goal is realized.