- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001


That sound you hear is the first big crack in the center-right coalition that the Bush administration has assembled.
Amazingly it isn't social conservatives they're feeling pretty good so far, with John Ashcroft as attorney general. Neither is the fissure with fiscal conservatives the tax plan is front and center and is quite good.
No, the crack in the coalition is with what I call the "resource Republicans" those of us who live in the broad red swath of Bush-friendly states that covers middle America and the resource-rich West. We make our living producing items America needs to keep growing, such as food, energy, minerals and timber.
We are shaking our heads in astonishment at the Environmental Protection Agency's new head, the former governor of New Jersey, Christie Todd Whitman and her statement on CNN's "Crossfire" recently that the science on global warming is in, it's conclusive and it requires controls on carbon dioxide emissions. And not only that, but that she claimed the president had signed on to that Al Gore-like perspective during the campaign.
"George Bush was very clear during the course of the campaign that he believes in a multipollutant strategy, and that includes CO2," Mrs. Whitman told "Crossfire's" Robert Novak. "He has also been very clear that the science is good on global warming."
Wrong. Mr. Bush was pretty clear in the debates that global warming "science" was much too fuzzy and that we should not rush to impose outrageously costly remedies before we know if there is even a malady. Nonetheless, if Mrs. Whitman is correct, we're headed down the path of the hated Kyoto accord negotiated by Vice President Al Gore in 1997. That route has led to the flagellation of America by extreme environmentalists and their bureaucratic allies in Europe. It will lead to untenable controls on energy usage to control CO2, the most naturally occurring gas in nature. That will lead to even higher energy prices and a dramatic slowdown in U.S. economic growth.
Perhaps Mrs. Whitman didn't understand the magnitude of what she said. If so, here's a bit of news for her: The political consensus of Mr. Bush's own supporters emphatically opposes taking a huge plunge based on unproved science and hysterical climate-change predictions by a crowd of scientifically ignorant politicians and bureaucrats. And those of us in that consensus are not going to roll over and play dead and allow this administration to be held captive by discredited ideas held over from the Clinton-Gore administration.
Mr. Bush didn't capture West Virginia on the notion that its workers would no longer have jobs mining coal. Or Texas on the basis of shutting down the oil industry, as essentially would be required for humans to make the slightest dent in CO2 accumulation. I would hope both Mr. Bush and Vice President Cheney were as surprised as I was by Mrs. Whitman's statements, and that she's been pulled on the carpet over this. For the facts simply are not as she claimed. The scientific consensus on global warming is not in. And those claiming any truly significant human contribution are not finding it through sound science.
It may be that the globe has warmed in the last century. It may even be that it will warm some more in this one. It also may be that carbon dioxide is a contributing factor. But as Professor Richard Lindzen, distinguished Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a lead author of one of the chapters for the United Nation's yet-to-be published climate change report has noted, there is scant evidence that man can do any more about it than his ancestors did about the weather. And there is no real evidence yet that what is happening is even damaging. What there is evidence of is manipulation, by politicians and the media of public attitudes and of science itself. Mr. Lindzen points out that the summary of the report he worked on and that the United Nations has released to widespread media fanfare, with a gloom and doom forecast of what global warming may mean wasn't written by scientists, misrepresents what scientists say, exploits public ignorance about measurements and exaggerates scientific accuracy and certainty.
It mostly caters to bureaucrats in Europe, particularly Britain and Germany, which are pushing climate change as a danger for internal economic and political reasons: Germany to win help from the rest of Europe to clean up high-polluting plants in the former communist East Germany; Britain to help make its North Sea natural gas more valuable. The real point is, though, that the facts aren't in. And as Mr. Lindzen says, "Isn't it better to get the facts before you offer a trillion dollar solution to what could be, at most, a billion dollar problem?" Before Mrs. Whitman says any more about what the Bush administration will do about global warming, she needs to get a real grasp on economic, political and scientific reality, or she will break this administration in two.


Malcolm Wallop is a former U.S. Senator from Wyoming and the founder of Frontiers of Freedom.


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