Student Protesters Raise Eyebrows, Instead of Piercing Them

Horner Dispatch on the Bonn Climate Negotiations

Horner Dispatch on the Bonn Climate Negotiations


Americans Come to Support American President


Bonn — Forty American college students took to the streets of Bonn, Germany this week to protest the U.N. Kyoto Protocol addressing the theory of “man-made catastrophic global warming’’.  That treaty is being further negotiated here this week amid U.S. calls to start over.  Accompanied by a banging drum and costumed characters mocking environmental doomsayers, they drew a large crowd and even the attention of gathered media.


“The Kyoto Protocol is bad for Europe, bad for the United States, and bad for the world. We agree with President Bush’’, said Jack Long, a student from Texas A&M University.  “The only thing scientists have agreed on is that there is no consensus on global warming,“ said Dr. Paul Bonocelli, a professor at Patrick Henry College, referring to a recent report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to President bush.  Bonocelli also asserted that over 17,000 scientists have signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine´s Oregon Petition highlighting the lack of scientific evidence driving the Kyoto Protocol.


Prior to traveling to Bonn at their own expense, these students participated in a week of presentations from scientists, academics, and government officials from the U.S., Belgium, and the United Kingdom.  Depending on their discipline, the presenters maintained either that the Kyoto Protocol would have no discernable impact on climate, or that it would seriously hurt the world economy.


At previous UN sessions discussing Kyoto, protest has been decidedly one-sided, representing pro-energy-suppression student movements, primarily Greenpeace and the Campus Green Party.  One student in attendance in Bonn suggested that the new interest from conservative students comes as a result of the 2000 U.S. presidential race.  Losing candidate Al Gore had written a book calling for a “wrenching transformation’’ of society to avoid ecological catastrophe such as “global warming.’’  “We have a mandate. George W. Bush was elected on a platform of practical environmentalism,’’ said Robert Bauer, a student at Georgetown University.


While the students here calimed both they and George W. Bush’s election represent the triumph of Bush’s environmentalism over Gore’s more strident version, that issue was remarkably low-profile during the presidential campaign.  Curiously, neither Al Gore nor George W. Bush made an issue over Mr. Gore’s book, “Earth in the Balance,’’ which contained numerous controversial calls to arms including demands for higher energy costs and other dramatic lifestyle change.  Dr. Fred Singer, former head of the U.S Weather Service’s satellite operations and active in the science and politics of the climate change debate, posits that several factors played into this glaring lack of scrutiny.  “Gore made some outrageous statements in his book.  One (Democratic National Campaign) official posited, that Gore ’compares the Holocaust to Americans’ refusal to recycle aluminum cans.’’’  Still, Dr. Singer added, “Republicans are notoriously uncomfortable with environmental issues, more specifically the rhetoric accompanying the issues, even when handed a big one like ’Earth in the Balance’.’’


Whether or not most Americans are engaged, these students took it upon themselves to try and impact the process.  When asked why they feel suited to argue with U.N. scientists, Steve Watson of The Leadership Institute said, “Of course environmentalists will play up problems and allege catastrophe. That’s their job-they compete with cancer research, illiteracy, and a thousand other social problems for funding. The larger the problem they claim, the more their funding and salaries increase.’’


The students protested at the convention location, the Maritim Hotel, on Wednesday morning, but were barred entrance into the hotel.  At first, they were denied access to their permitted protest site because they were wearing tee shirts, festooned with their mantra “Stop Global Whining’’, striking out the word “warming’’.  Other arguments erupted with officials over the students’ plan to bang a drum, and even to march in a circle.  The students prevailed on both counts.  Other ecoutrements included a protesting chicken and cow, representing the “chicken little’’ mindset the students claim besets the environmentalist community.  The cow referenced a more scatological characterization of the claims of global catastrophe.


As for their reception, the group reported a favorable response and encountered only minor controversy.  Thrusday morning three anti-Kyoto students debate three Greenpeace activists in the convention hall.


“I’m very glad we were here. The Kyoto Protocol is an expensive insurance policy for an empty threat that scientists have not even agreed exists. I’m glad we were able to do our part to promote the side of logic,“  said Craig Rucker, director of Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a DC-based think tank and the coordinator of the trip.