|The Week That Was
April 8, 2000
The United Nations plans to convene soon a special Millennium Assembly as a global summit on the future of the world. The Assembly will consider a Charter to achieve global governance. This "Charter for Global Democracy" has already been signed by influential leaders in 56 nations and has the support of the usual NGOs. It's guiding spirit is none other than the ubiquitous Mr. Maurice Strong, the Canadian millionaire who played a leading role at the 1992 Rio UN Conference on Environment and Development (an oxymoron when you consider that UNCED came up with the Global Climate Treaty designed to curtail the use of energy).
The first of twelve principles of the Charter calls for the consolidation of all international agencies under the UN. The second principle calls for regulation by the UN of all transnational corporations and financial institutions, according to an "international code of conduct." Principle #3 demands an independent (and automatic) source of revenue for the UN, such as a tax on all international financial transactions or on air traffic. Number 4 would eliminate the veto power and permanent status of the Security Council. Number 5 authorizes a standing UN army. Number 6 would require UN registration of all arms and melding of reduced national armies into a "multilateral global security system."
Principle #7 would require individual and national compliance with all human-rights treaties and declarations. Number 8 would activate the International Court of Justice. Principle #9 calls for a new institution to establish economic and financial security by ensuring "sustainable development." Number 10 calls for the establishment of an International Environmental Court.
Number 11 calls climate change "an essential global security interest" and would allocate carbon emission rights worldwide on an equal per-capita basis. Principle #12 calls for the cancellation of all debts owed by the poorest nations and for "equitable sharing of global resources."
This blueprint for a draft Charter was developed by the UN-funded Commission on Global Governance, and first published in 1995. The Millennium Assembly will develop the legal instruments required to modify the existing UN Charter, which will then be sent to governments for ratification. Not many people seem to be aware of these ongoing developments but perhaps the forthcoming presidential election debates could provide a good forum for discussion.
[Any comments should be sent directly to Henry Lamb, executive vice-president of the Environmental Conservation Organization and chairman of Sovereignty International. Website address: http://www.freedom.org]
A FOOTNOTE: On Oct. 21 , 1999, a Scottish court acquitted three peace activists who damaged a floating laboratory at a British Trident submarine base. The judge instructed the jury to acquit, based on the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. [In the judge's opinion the Trident nuclear missile "could be construed as a threat to other states and as such an infringement of international customary law"]. The case is now under review by the High Court of Scotland.
AND LATE NEWS: The American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC organized an all-day discussion on this vital topic on April 5, involving leading scholars. The conclusions may have an important impact on US strategy of dealing with this issue.
Views on energy continue to be ideologically based. One of the current experts is John Holdren, now the Teresa and John Heinz Professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Back in his California physicist days in the 1980s, he predicted, in the words of his mentor Paul Ehrlich, that "carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020." He is now a principal advisor to the DOE and (naturally) advocates solar energy to replace fossil power and nuclear.
Meanwhile, in a guest editorial in Science [July 30, 1999], Congressman Rush Holt [D-NJ] predictably states "that our current lack of investment in research and development in energy is nothing short of irresponsible." This is the third major attempt to force-feed renewable energy technology in the hope of eliminating fossil fuels. The first was Project Independence under President Nixon, started in the aftermath of the Arab "oil embargo." President Jimmy Carter promoted a similar program in response to the rapid increase in oil prices after the fall of the Shah of Iran. The present push is of course based on the fear of global warming and the drive to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.
In all of this, it is well to remember that solar radiation is not only exceedingly dilute but also quite unsteady. Allowing for the day/night cycle and average cloudiness, the average solar power delivered to the surface is only 200 watts per square meter. Even with an optimistic conversion efficiency of 10% maintained throughout the life of the equipment, the delivered power is only 20 watts per square meter. The US per-capita rate of energy consumption is 10 kilowatts, assuming good conservation measures. This means that every man, woman, and child requires a collecting area of 500 square meters, or a football field for the average household. Renewable energy is horribly land-intensive.
And this is not counting the capital cost of the equipment, maintenance, transmission of energy, and storage when the sun is not shining.