- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2001

Angry European leaders gathered in Bonn this week in an attempt to score political points by complaining about President Bush's refusal to reverse his stance on the moribund Kyoto Protocol on consumption er climate change.

It's easy to understand their anger, fueled as it is by a combination of production envy and cheap political posturing. Europeans protest that with four percent of the world population, the United States produces a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas. But they neglect to mention that the United States also accounts for one quarter of the global economy. It takes energy to keep this powerful engine chugging along. They also neglect to point out that most of the developing world is exempt from Kyoto's strictures, and that none of the members of the European Union have actually ratified it.

That might be because they believe that ratification of the protocol would have disasterous effects on their own political prospects as it would have had on then-President Clinton, who signed the treaty and then refused to send it to the Senate. The Department of Energy estimated that Kyoto's mandated cuts in carbon consumption could raise U.S. consumer gas prices by over a third. Heavily taxed Europeans would probably be affected even more dramatically, and with more drastic consequences last fall, British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to declare a state of emergency after a strike by truck drivers over high fuel prices brought the country to a virtual standstill.

Crushing taxation may be one reason that an estimated 5 million Europeans tried to become permanent U.S. residents last year. Or perhaps they are simply tired of drinking lukewarm beverages with Lilliputian ice cubes, driving Altoids box-sized cars, or smelling too many Frenchmen who clearly could use a shot of the ozone destroying effluents formerly found in spray-on deodorant.

Besides it isn't as though the United States has been indiscriminately pushing stinking emissions into the atmosphere. Since 1970, the United States has reduced its emissions of carbon dioxide by 31 percent, even though its energy consumption went up by 42 percent in the same period.

All of this puts aside the stubborn fact that the catastrophies predicted by Kyoto's biggest proponents are based on models that are fundamentally flawed. Those models cannot explain why the Earth's surface temperature apparently fell between the 1940s and 1970s, and nor can they explain why satellites show that there has been no atmospheric warming over the last two decades. Besides, the Earth's temperature may well have risen over the last century, but, global temperatures have been rising and falling throughout the Earth's history presumably without anything to do with man's activities.

Ultimately, Kyoto is an unpleasant reminder of too much in Europe it's a wildly expensive, badly-built edifice which serves only to support battered European egos.

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