The Week That Was
December 11, 1999 NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:

"The Kyoto Protocol: The Costly Politics of Global Environmentalism" (The World & I magazine, December 1999) explains why the KP is not needed, is not effective, economically destructive, and therefore politically unacceptable.


We have been hearing all about it in breathless newspaper stories. Curt Suplee in the Washington Post and Bill Stevens in the NY Times reported on a research paper in Science (Dec 3) by Kostya Vinnikov (U of Md) and colleagues, describing how the Arctic ice cover has been shrinking in recent years, at about 3% per decade. The specter of global warming again?

Well, not quite. A closer look at their article (which finally reached us by snail mail, well after the media got their press packages from Science) tells a different story. According to their figure 2 (on page 1935), the shrinking trend started around 1950; there was no shrinking of the Arctic ice before 1940. But the climate warmed between 1900 and 1940, and cooled slightly thereafter (at least to 1976)! So why no loss of ice coverage when the climate warmed?

Big puzzle. Could it be that there was a delay and that the melting since 1950 is simply the consequence of the earlier warming? Stay tuned….


Referring to "Earth in the Balance," his 1992 compendium of environmental alarms, Al Gore recently said, "There's not a statement in that book that I don't endorse. Not one. The evidence has firmed up the positions I sketched there." Columnist George F. Will (Wash. Post, Nov. 18, 1999) lists positions such as:

"The climate changes that we are now bringing about by modifying the global atmosphere are likely to dwarf completely the ones that caused the great subsistence crisis of 1816-19, for example, or those that set the stage for the Black Death," and "are likely to be five times larger than the fluctuations that produced the Little Ice Age, for example, or the global climate change that led to the Great Famine of 1315-17."

Wow! Doesn't the VP recognize the irony here? All these events correspond to COOLING periods in Earth's climate history. And the cold made life miserable, brutish, and short. To quote my U of Virginia colleague Pat Michaels: "Global warming. Get over it!"


As reported by David Wojick (, top environmental officials from Japan, the United States, and eight other non European Union industrialized countries will hold secret talks in Tokyo to discuss a joint strategy on the issue of greenhouse-gas emissions trading. According to the Japan Times, government sources say the talks will be held in January 20-21 among ambassadorial level officials from nine members of the so-called Umbrella Group, plus Kazakhstan.

Gee, these guys really know how to keep a secret! Let's hope Congress doesn't find out.

[The Umbrella Group of Emissions Trading comprises Japan, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Ukraine. Kazakhstan, which recently opted for voluntary emission reductions under the Kyoto protocol, holds observer status.]

Clinton administration sources say that the Tokyo meeting is crucial because negotiations are on a very fast track. Climate negotiators hope to finalize the Kyoto mechanisms by November 2000 and emissions trading looms as the major stumbling block.

[Just a little background here. The issue of emissions trading has pitted the EU against most other industrialized countries, especially the Umbrella Group. The EU, backed by many developing countries, insists on imposing strict limits on emissions trading, usually around 50% of target reductions. The EU claims that unlimited use of the mechanism would discourage industrialized countries from making sufficient efforts at home to cut greenhouse gases.].

It seems the Europeans want us to "feel our pain." No wonder they are so upset when scientific data suggest that North America is already absorbing more CO2 than it emits.


From a letter in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 30, 1999) by Gilbert L. Ross, M.D., medical director of the American Council on Science and Health:

"Given the long record of safety of genetically-modified foods, I wonder what drives these zealots to interfere with our best chance to feed the world's hungriest over the next decades? At least the EU's response to biotech food is partially explicable by xenophobia directed at American business. But environmental terrorists appear fueled by another agenda. Under the guise of "earth-friendly" advocacy and opposition to "agribusiness," they reveal a callous disregard for human health and nutrition. Their persistent attempts to ban DDT worldwide, despite its documented unparalleled ability to save millions of malaria-threatened lives, runs in the same vein of superstition and fear.

Those who today attack bio-engineered food will not stop there. Given an inch, they will next attack biopharmaceuticals. Why haven't they already done so? Why do they assert that biotech-food is so scary, but not biotech-drugs? Perhaps they know that a scare campaign against life-saving drugs would go nowhere.

I hope the millions of transplant, cancer, hepatitis patients, and diabetics, who now freely use and benefit from the many biopharmaceuticals available, will join with scientists to expose the junk-scientists for what they really are."

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