Implementation without ratification: The Clinton Administration has asked the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) to develop a "plan" to provide incentives for member companies and their customers to implement voluntary emissions reductions. INGAA members have been looking over provisions of the Kyoto protocol and using them as guidelines to craft a strategy. Carbon credits and emissions trading figure big. The Administration wants to announce the plan at a well-publicized White House press event in late September. Perhaps Albert Gore will make it the highlight of his swearing-in.
By the way, for all of Mr. Gore's talk of agricultural disaster in Texas and Florida because of this summer's drought, he seems to have overlooked another partly El Nino-driven agricultural disaster: U.S. farmers may lose their shirts this year because of extremely low prices caused by record soybean and near-record corn crops. According to the old saying, corn should be "knee-high by the 4th of July." This year it was knee-high by the 4th of June. Worse, exports are down. Business Week magazine says China has become a net exporter of wheat; Latin American countries are competing head-to-head with American farmers. Associated Press reports that the European Union is exporting feed grains to the U.S. The Dept. of Agriculture expects U.S. corn exports to drop 20 percent this year.
Health officials in Texas report that most of those who died in the recent heat wave were sick or elderly people who had no air conditioning or, in some cases, no electricity. As Stanford economist Thomas Gale Moore points out, an unfortunate side effect of driving up energy costs is that the poor, the elderly, and the sick would be forced, in future hot spells, to conserve electricity and shut off their air conditioners. Perhaps this is where Gore's focus switches from global warming to population control.
NASA fended off an attack on the global satellite temperature data last week (See its response on the SEPP web page). The Al Gore chorus--CNN, National Public Radio, New York Times, Washington Post, and Time magazine--said global warming is here and it's going to get worse. Other major papers were less certain the issue was even news. Said one editorial page editor: "Congress is out of session. Everyone's at the beach. Nobody cares about this stuff."
Perhaps with reason. Scientists with the prestigious Weizmann Institute in Israel, in a research paper just published in the journal Science, claim to have found evidence of a natural global warming in equatorial Africa that took place between 350 B.C. and A.D. 450. The warming caused the waters of a lake on the slope of Mount Kenya to rise 8 degrees fahrenheit, and mirrored similar findings during that same period in Alaska and Lapland. "The climate can warm up suddenly without any connection to human activity," said research team leader Aldo Shemesh in the London Daily Telegraph. "It was very rapid and not unique."
Global warming isn't the only issue, of course. In Britain, some 2,500 of the 6,000 minks released from a Hampshire fur farm by the Animal Liberation Front have returned to their cages looking for something to eat. Hundreds more have been shot by farmers defending their chickens, or run over by automobiles.
Closer to home, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken another hit in the federal appeals court, which ruled last week that the FDA has no authority to regulate tobacco. To make matters worse, a study released in Great Britain blew holes in the claim that those living with smokers incur a 20-30 percent increased risk of lung cancer. Instead of plucking estimates out of thin air, researchers at Covance Laboratories went to the trouble of equipping 1000 people in cities across Europe with personal air monitors to measure their exposure. It turns out that even the most highly exposed non-smoker inhaled the equivalent of just 0.02 cigarettes a day, or about 6 cigarettes a year. The scientists said the increased risk of lung cancer for these people was extremely small--about 2 percent, 10 times less than government estimates.
Congratulations to Washington state, which just completed its celebration of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness Week, noting that MCS is "recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other state and national government agencies and commissions which have supported the health and welfare of the chemically injured." Governor Gary Locke signed the proclamation. Can a ban on perfume, hairspray, aftershave, deodorant, etc. be far behind?
Speaking of the Americans with Disabilities Act, bloated bureaucracy has struck again. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Exxon under the Americans with Disabilities Act for banning employees with a history of alcohol and drug abuse from its 1,500 safety-sensitive jobs. As some of you may recall, alcoholism was initially reported as one reason the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound in 1989, dumping 11 million gallons of crude. Both the EPA and the Dept. of Justice congratulated Exxon for trying to prevent another such spill. Not the EEOC, where the motto is "Be all that you can be"--tanker captain, airline pilot, daycare provider, school bus driver. Alcoholics and drug addicts are disabled. They need our compassion.
On a more sober note: Green activist organizations--staffed by professionals (primarily Americans) and financed by a mix of private and public funds--exercise considerable clout in the conduct of diplomacy and the creation of international policy in countries around the world. In a new book just out, "Global Greens: Inside the International Environmental Establishment," Jim Sheehan, environmental policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., takes a look at how these well-funded ideologues are gradually undermining national self-government, economic freedom, and personal liberty. Sheehan's book, published by the Capital Research Center, is an eye-opener. You can order a copy by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling (800) 459-3950.
While we're at it, here are two more recommendations for those ready to put away the trashy summer novels and get down to serious reading. The 4th edition of "The Way the World Works" by economist Jude Wanniski is now available, with a new introduction by political commentator Robert Novak; Tom Bethell, who frequently writes for American Spectator magazine, tells us the way the world worked in "The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages." Both are terrific and available on the internet through www.amazon.com or via the SEPP Recommended Reading page.
The best solution for pollution is prosperity--that, indeed, is the way the world works. Until next week...
TW2 is compiled by SEPP Research Associate Candace Crandall