TCS Daily

More Noisy Theatre From the Kyoto Protocol Half Way Around the World

By Brock Yates - November 1, 2001 12:00 AM

The effort in 1997 to dragoon the United States into handcuffing its economy with a list of environmental dictums that only the wooziest of Utopian Greens -- including our then Vice-President Albert Gore -- found reasonable, haunts us this Halloween week half a world away.

Despite Mr. Gore's enthusiastic signing of the Kyoto Protocol designed to curtail sharply energy use, the treaty received a less enthusiastic reception by a U.S. Senate which voted 95 to 0 against any climate change treaty that exempted notorious polluters like China and India.

The U.S. was, of course, pilloried (what else is new?) for choosing not to plunge itself into a Depression in the name of debatable global warming tocsins. High-minded elites around the world have savaged us for our selfishness ever since, while choosing to exempt themselves from the same disciplines. They promised to keep the spirit of Kyoto alive -- and with it, the death of the automobile as we know it.

So the bleat goes on in Marrakech, Morocco where the Seventh Conference of the Parties to Climate Change (COP 7 in international diplomatic argot) is being held through November 9th. Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, drew the short straw and is heading the American delegation. She and her associates will be once again singled out as the heartless defilers of the planet by a rabble of Third World hacks and mountebanks who, for a myriad of reasons, represent nations unwilling or unable to -- in even miniscule ways -- emulate the dynamism, the creativity or the resiliency of the American free-enterprise system.

The entire affair -- distorted as it is by bogus research and egregiously flawed science -- shields a secondary mission by the Lilliput conferees who want to cut the American Gulliver off at its knees. By branding America a gluttonous bully, we find out political and economic leverage on other important issues vastly reduced.

Economic Suicide

But we have no choice. To place the caps on CO2 emissions proposed by Kyoto would reduce the Gross Domestic Product by $400 billion annually and slash living standards by 15%, and the poorest in the nation will suffer the most. Gasoline would soar to $5 a gallon. In every sense of the word, Kyoto spells devastation for the United States.

Still, as the Middle East erupts and our supplies of Arab petroleum become uncertain, cries will rise that some variation on Kyoto must be implemented. For example Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has halted consideration of a sensible energy bill because it would permit oil exploration in Alaska - a move that could reduce our dependence on the Persian Gulf but gives Greens heartaches. He instead favors an immodest proposal by Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont that calls for the implementation of tight CO2 controls, modeled after Kyoto.

And global warming missionaries continue to demand that CAFÉ standards be radically increased and that the American appetite for leviathan SUV's be eliminated. These Cassandras choose to ignore (1) that emissions from modern automobiles are often less than that in the surrounding ambient air and are improving year by year; and (2) normal market forces will alter the nation's driving habits and vehicle choices without the government meddling.

They also ignore the reality that America's transportation needs are based on our 200 million vehicles and that there are no viable substitutes. Trillions of dollars have would have to be invested in new rail lines to offer any alternative, not to mention the displacement of millions of citizens along reachable rail-head locations. Both are unthinkable in terms of dollar investment and human costs.


Following the OPEC crisis in 1973, some pols went so far as to demand the shut-down of automobile racing in the nation, citing the stock car circuit as a prime example of how precious gasoline was being wasted in the name of mindless entertainment. It was then that William H.G. France, the crafty, politically-savvy leader of NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing) produced hard data that a charter jet hauling a professional football or baseball team to and from a game consumed more petroleum than an entire field of stock cars running a 500-mile race. Suddenly the Washington grandees forced to look at their precious Redskins as the villains in the piece and the issue was quietly dropped.

Now a similar counter-attack is needed on behalf of the motor vehicle. It is incumbent on the industry -- both domestic and imported -- to state their case, to illustrate to the public the cost/benefit ratios of automotive use.

The case must be made that at the core of America's freedom and mobility is the private automobile operated by responsible members of society. Cars are cleaner, safer and more functional than was even imagined a decade ago. And automobiles are bound to get better. But only if free market forces are permitted to function and lunacies like the Kyoto Protocol are pitched into Lenin's dustbin of history.


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