The Week That Was
May 20, 2000


At last! Alan Keyes, a Presidential candidate who addresses the global warming issue and makes sense. Now if he could only start a debate among the major candidates. Here are some excerpts (AND GREAT QUOTES):

"[As citizens] we are obliged to exercise our judgment on science-based issues, especially when the experts disagree or when the issues have clear implications for the community as a whole…citizenry that intends to preserve its liberty should pay close attention when elites begin telling us that supposed verdicts of science will require that we change important aspects of our lives.

"…where the models predict the strongest "warming signal," highly accurate satellite and weather balloon measurements show almost no net warming over the past 20 years. From such facts, I conclude that the climate system is probably much less "sensitive" to "greenhouse forcing" than the climate models assume.

"I believe the balance of evidence suggests that man-made CO2 is not destabilizing the climate system but, rather, enhancing global food security and bio-diversity.

"The Kyoto Protocol would be the wrong solution. …Posterity will be much better equipped than we are to mitigate, or adapt to, climate change, whether natural or human-induced.

"Kyoto-advocates view the Protocol as just a beginning -- the first of a series of energy-suppression treaties, each mandating stricter controls and encompassing more countries than its predecessor.

"Poverty always has been, and remains, the most lethal social pollutant. To a great degree, poverty is a function of limited energy supply…. I fear that a Kyoto energy-starved world would be a world with more starving people.

"I suspect behind the Kyoto Protocol is the age-old lust for power…. To successfully control carbon dioxide emissions, government must regulate practically everything. The Kyoto Protocol would establish such regulation on a global scale.

"Many of the same individuals and organizations who only 20 years ago were confidently predicting oil depletion and chronic energy shortages by the year 2000 are now confidently predicting what will happen to the climate in 50 or 100 years. This is hubris of a very high order.

"The Kyoto Protocol is, thus, a scheme of global central planning based on claims of greater-than-human foresight and knowledge."




Emission trading isn't always a simple solution, as NY State is beginning to find out. NY has been blaming Midwestern power plants for its acid-rain problems, putting pressure on the EPA to enforce emission limits on old powerplants that had been grandfathered under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. [Forget for a moment whether acid rain is causing the acidity of NY lakes -- it could be the acid soil; forget also whether Midwestern plants are really responsible… or whether EPA is circumventing Congress.]

What's amusing, as revealed by the NY Times (5/9/00), NY powerplants are making money by selling their excess SO2 emission rights to Midwestern plants. Now NY State wants to tax away these payments to STOP the emissions trading. What irony! And perhaps a lesson for those in the White House who advocate CO2 emissions trading as a painless and cheap way to meet the Kyoto goals. AND ALSO A LESSON FOR INDUSTRIES THAT THINK THEY WILL BE ALLOWED TO KEEP THEIR "ILL-GOTTEN GAINS."

Meanwhile, Russians may demand compensation from Annex-I nations that try to slow global warming by enforcing the Kyoto Protocol. As reported in the German magazine Der Spiegel (May 1, 2000), Siberia would derive great benefits from a warmer climate. This summer, the Northeast passage will be open, bringing more commerce to trading cities like Mangaseya and Norilsk, where space-heating has to be supplied the year round. As Russian scientists calculate, if the average temperature in Norilsk rises by only 1C, it would save two months' worth of heating and 40 million tons of fuel.

The future for Siberian agriculture looks bright also. The St. Petersburg Institute of Hydrology predicts growing tomatoes outdoors in Yakutsk. And where Western climate researchers see droughts in southwestern Russia, Russians see the exact opposite: more rain in the Spring and a Mediterranean landscape. [The Russians use not just computer simulations but also analyses of historic warm periods.]

But before we take Russian claims for compensation seriously, better inform them that there is no evidence yet of climate warming being due to anything but natural causes. In any case, Kyoto would do little to reduce the rise of atmospheric greenhouse gases and have an undetectable impact on climate.


The EU has decided to set indicative targets of 12% of electricity production from renewable sources by 2010. (Britain would have to raise from 1.7% to 10% under this plan.) This is supposed to be an alternative to energy taxes that voters don't like. Of course, it will require taxpayers to increase existing subsidies. How can these bureaucrats underestimate the intelligence of European citizens?

[Japan is more straightforward. Its environmental agency is drafting plans for energy taxes, starting with only a few pennies per gallon of gas. Let's see how far they get.]

Meanwhile , America -bashing is continuing -- this time over Global warming. UK deputy prime minister Prescott delivered a "wake-up call" while on a US visit, warning of grave dangers ahead. (Does he really believe this?) After jibes at Congress, he endorsed Al Gore's courageous stand. Now that should swing the Irish vote to George W. Bush…

Academics in the UK are no better. One Benito Mueller (apparently a happy reincarnation of the WW-II Axis) labels America an "environmental pariah" for opposing the Kyoto Protocol. The poor chap is misinformed; he states that the aim of the 1992 Climate Treaty is to stabilize greenhouse gases at an "acceptable level." Not only does he not define what this means, but Article 2 of the Treaty spells out a quite different but equally undefined goal. Benito gloats that even if the US stays out, it won't make any difference, politically or environmentally. He is right about the last: The temperature decrease brought about by the Kyoto Protocol will drop to 0.035C from 0.05C --- equally undetectable.


A wildfire is more than a fire; it is a high-temperature blast wave consuming everything in its path. When we contemplate government remedies for "global warming," remember this Cerro Grande "event," set by the National Park Service to forestall presumably worse disasters. The "controlled burn" started Thurs 5/4/00 under impermissibly low-humidity/high-wind conditions and was allowed to burn for 3 days before the alarm bells were rung. A call to the NPS fire-fighting central early AM on Friday 5/5/00 was answered by a machine, incredibly advising callback during normal business hours. The senior official making the call let it go at that.

On a personal note, we regret to inform you that our good friend and occasional adversary Dr. Charles "Chick" Keller lost his home to the fire. We want to express our sympathy to him and his family.


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