The Week That Was
July 20-26, 1997

What a week! Good news on two fronts:

on Wednesday, July 23rd, the New York Times reported a return to sanity on the whaling issue, which The Science & Environmental Policy Project addressed in 1994 at its Washington Conference on The Scientific Management of Fisheries and Marine Mammals. In "Whalers Say the Wind Is Turning in Their Favor," the NYT reported that Norway is winning its war with the International Whaling Commission (and the U.S. delegation). For five years, Norwegian whalers have defied an IWC moratorium on hunting the non-endangered minke whale (900,000 worldwide), withstood violent confrontations with Greenpeace, and continued their annual minke whale hunt in the Berents Sea--this year taking a self-imposed quota of 580 whales. According to the NYT, the protests have now stopped and two of the largest environmental groups in Norway have declared the yearly whale hunt "sustainable." More important, IWC scientists have finally been given a voice. They declared last year that the minke population was robust enough to sustain a limited hunt (quite an understatement, considering the numbers). Said Norwegian whaler Olav Olavson, 59, whose 70-foot vessel was scuttled at its berth by American protesters in 1992, "A few years ago we were considered barbaric criminals, but I think the worst of the protest storm has passed. Within three years, we'll be exporting again."

on Thursday, July 24th the White House staged a global warming press briefing in a last ditch effort to stifle bipartisan dissent in the U.S. Senate against the Climate Treaty. Herding the White House press corps into the briefing room, along with any other journalists who cared to show up, Gore and Clinton trotted out six scientists charged with ensuring screaming headlines in the next day's papers. It was quite an assembly: atmospheric chemists F. Sherwood Rowland and Frank Molina (of CFC/ozone fame), nuclear physicist Henry Kendall, marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco (controversial president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science), White House science advisor John Gibbons, and climatologist Stephen Schneider, the only scientist present who actually participated in the IPCC Climate Change Report. Despite a near-tears plea from Jane Lubchenco to do the right thing "for our grandchildren," reporters recognized a dog-and-pony show when they saw one. Said one unimpressed journalist, "I left early, but I tell you, I was really worried about drowning in all that water from the melting ice caps."

on Friday, July 25th, Fred Singer's commentary piece on the scientific consensus hoax appeared in the Wall Street Journal, paired with a piece on the economic costs of proposed global warming remedies by Jack Kemp. Singer's article was read into the Congressional Record and quoted and discussed at length by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, whose program reaches some 20 million listeners. More important, in the U.S. Senate, the vote was 95-0 not to endorse mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions and to require the White House to produce economic analyses for all proposals and protocols related to the Climate Treaty negotiations in Kyoto. In the debate, several senators questioned the validity of the scientific evidence underlying the Treaty, echoing Singer's WSJ article.

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