We all know that polls are just snapshots of a moment in time, taking the pulse of public opinion on some subject. A recent one by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, however, produced some encouraging news. Of 1,000 people polled, just over half said that, while protecting the environment is important, it is more important to keep the economy growing.
Despite their rhetoric, the environmentalists who keep the movement going with countless organizations, by lobbying the government, and with a constant propaganda program, care little about a healthy, growing, successful economy. They say they do, but so much of what passes for environmentalism is actually a constant attack on the most basic elements of the nation’s economy.
Recently I saw a PBS documentary on the building of the Grand Coulee Dam that transformed the economy of the northwest, providing inexpensive electricity that stimulated the growth of business and the irrigation needed for agricultural expansion. I was struck by a comment by one of those who built the dam during the days of the Roosevelt administration. He said, if the Environmental Protection Agency had been around in the 1930s, the dam would never have been built.
This explains why there hasn’t been a new oil refinery built in the United States since the 1970s, why the electrical grid on which we depend has not been upgraded for decades, why there hasn’t been a new mining operation opened to get at our abundant resources of coal and other minerals, why the cost of natural gas continues to rise because we need more pipelines, and why this nation still hasn’t been able to tap an estimated sixteen billion barrels of crude oil in Alaska.
It explains why the cost of new and old housing continues to rise. The environmental restrictions on building new housing for a growing population have to be passed along to the buyers. Developers must assume the cost of various environmental impact studies. If an “endangered species” is found on the property, it can stall the project for years. Old homes often have to add the cost of radon reduction, asbestos removal or the removal of an old oil tank before they can be sold to new owners. The “risks” involved are virtually non-existant.
In a full scale attack on the rights of private property owners, less and less land is available for housing as one State after another takes advantage of federal dollars to place it off limits to any development. Well-funded conservation organizations purchase countless acres of forest to insure that it will not be used for the production of timber needed to build new homes and this, too, drives up the cost. Farmland, as well, is purchased or encumbered against future use. Ranchers face grazing restrictions.
All of this reflects the true agenda of the environmental movement.
Of those polled, 44% identified themselves as “environmentalists” and, as a news report noted, “of the total polled who own a sports utility vehicle, 44% identified themselves in the same way. For many who call themselves environmentalists, a lifestyle that includes a SUV and all the many other benefits of modern technology takes precedence over environmental issues. Indeed, calling oneself an environmentalist is a way of identifying with often-vague notions of those things said to be good for the environment.
Some of those things, however, are very bad for human beings. The banning of DDT has insured that millions of people around the globe have died from malaria when spraying just a small amount would have protected them. As West Nile Fever continues its spread from East to West coast, there are still protests against spraying programs.
The resistance to any new exploration and extraction of oil has made America increasingly dependent on nations in areas where we have had to send our military to protect our interests and to protect our lives from the fanatical Islamic threat that breeds in such places. The banning of Freon, one of the best, cheapest refrigerants and fire retardants ever invented, has increased the cost of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other modern marvels that now must use a more expensive alternative.
The failure to effectively manage our nation’s forests, thanks to the Green demand they not be used for timber production, has produced year after year of catastrophic forest fires that often destroy homes and threaten entire communities.
As these and countless other examples have penetrated the national psyche, more people have become disenchanted with what passes for environmentalism. The Green fever that swept over this nation, starting in the 1970s, has begun to subside a bit. People are more rightly concerned with jobs and aware that environmentalism is more often than not the roadblock to new jobs and economic growth. Many are still unaware of how the gospel of environmentalism permeates the curriculum of our schools.
It is an irony, but true, that economically successful nations can afford to protect the environment while those that are not experience degradation of their natural resources. Environmentalists have stopped all manner of projects that would improve the economies all over the world. Here at home, a poll gives a small indication that economic growth is beginning to take precedent over the half-truths and lies of the environmental movement. It’s a step in the right direction.
At a time when this nation is engaged in a war, putting the lives of its soldiers in harm’s way to end the threat of Middle Eastern terrorism, it would seem inconceivable that it would also be wasting billions to protect some species of salmon or the shortnose suckerfish. But it is.
Unfortunately, when the truth is revealed, the mainstream press often ignores it. For example, on April 14 of this year, the Pacific Legal Association, in association with Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC), released a study that demonstrated the mind-boggling costs of the Endangered Species Act.
“PERC researchers found that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) grossly underreported federal and state ESA costs in its recent report to Congress, and completely ignored the private economic and social costs of ESA compliance, which together easily total billions of dollars a year.”
The PERC researchers based this finding on a December 2003 FWS report to Congress, “Three-Year Summary of Federal and State Endangered Species Expenditures, Fiscal Years 1998-2000.” According to FWS, the federal and state expenditures totaled $610.3 million. PERC estimated the real costs to be as much as four times greater; more in the area of $2.4 billion. When you add in the private costs to those of government expenditures, the total “may easily reach or exceed $3.5 billion per year.”
There is something obscene about this, considering the many other priorities of our nation. As the Pacific Legal Foundation report notes, “People have lost their jobs, businesses, homes, farms, and even their lives to protect plants, insects and fish,” said Emma T. Suarez, an attorney for the Foundation. It is the story of a government more committed to so-called endangered species than to its citizens and to the economy upon which government depends.
Indeed, the story of the entire environmental movement is about the steady degradation of the American economy and other nations around the world. It is an attack on capitalism designed to thwart access to natural resources, and attack agriculture, ranching, the production of beneficial chemicals and pharmaceuticals, transportation, and every other element of the economy.
The FWS report managed to omit critical information in its 2003 cost report.
Only “estimates” of costs to taxpayers, not actual costs, were provided.
The report ignored government-wide costs, neatly skirting the many federal agencies and departments affected by the ESA reported expenditures and noting only costs that were “reasonably identifiable” for individual species. That’s a hole big enough to drive a truck through.
Costs to state and local entities for implementing species recovery were also ignored, along with those represented by ESA-caused interference with the building of schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure projects. Also ignored were the costs to private landowners. The study noted that “75% of all listed species have portions or all of their habitat on privately owned land and the FWS regulates 38 million acres of private land through conservation plans. Landowners are not compensated for their losses from ESA regulations that prohibit them from using their land productively.” These costs are enormous.
It is little wonder that the costs of housing, old and new, are soaring. ESA regulations are widely used to deter the creation of new housing stock despite the obvious need of a rapidly growing population. Nor are the other economic and social costs from regulatory burdens placed on agricultural production, water use, forest management, and mineral extraction included in the FWS report. If they were, the public would be in the streets demanding an end to ESA.
The FSW report did not take into consideration lost jobs, lost business, and lost tax revenues. If it did, the ESA would be rescinded within days. One famous example was the hoax about the “endangered” northern spotted owl. “At least 130,000 jobs were lost when more than 900 sawmills, pulp, and paper mills closed in mid-1990 to protect” the owl. In California, ESA-mandated water reductions in the Westlands Water District cost the state economy more than $218 million and 4,500 jobs statewide” according to the PERC study. The federal government was estimated to have lost about $2.3 million revenue as a result.
The Endangered Species Act has proven to be an expensive and destructive failure. Despite listing 1,260 US species as of December 2003, only fifteen were “delisted” and those mainly because the original data citing them as endangered proved to be inaccurate!
Environmentalism is not about caring for the needs of human beings or our nation’s economy. It is just the opposite. It is not some benign movement, but rather a malignant cancer that destroys lives, jobs, and the quintessential basis of our economy, the rights of private property owners.
Easily 90% or more of all the species that ever existed on earth are extinct. It’s called survival of the fittest and has been going on since life on earth began. It is worse than a conceit to think that government can “save” a few species; it is an arrogant and dangerous notion that seeks to replace the process of nature with the goals of the environmentalists.
After the usual media orgy of articles and opinions about “Earth Day”, it’s a good idea to ask how much environmentalism actually costs us. I will keep this to a question of dollars, but the real cost has been in millions of lives around a world where the benefits of modernization would have save those lives.
It is mind-boggling the billions of US taxpayer dollars that are squandered annually in the name of “protecting the environment.” Nor are these millions and billions devoted to just the US environment. They are just as often given way to foreign nations, many of which have a track record of corruption.
I was thinking about this as I read a speech given in Stockholm, Sweden, on March 2 by John F. Turner, an Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs. The title of his speech was “Uncle Sam: An Environmentalist.” Who can argue with that? Easily a third or more of all federal laws and regulations are devoted to the environment. This was accomplished in a relatively short time since the first Earth Day in 1970. And it began when a Republican President, Richard M. Nixon, signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and arguably one of the worst pieces of environmental legislation, the Endangered Species Act.
Turner proudly told his colleagues in Stockholm that the federal government owns lots and lots of the American landmass, citing the 84.5 million acres of our national park system and the 460 million acres that the government manages as wildlife reserves, refuges, wilderness areas, and marine sanctuaries. Americans who live in the West know well how much land the US owns, but most Americans remain unaware of the relentless efforts of the federal government, using taxpayer dollars, to provide funds to the States to purchase more and more private property
The US government is engaged in one of the biggest land grabs in history and they are doing it in collusion with a matrix of so-called environmental and conservation non-government organizations. They are doing it using your money! If successful, there will be fewer and fewer places for people to live, create new businesses, ranch, farm, or use our natural resources in any fashion, i.e. mine it, drill for it, or log it.
This is what the Greens call “sustainable development.” If they were honest about it—which they never are—they should call it “no development.”
What makes the Bush administration’s environmental programs so bizarre are the millions being spent on projects such as the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. “The United States will contribute $53 million over four years to create the training programs, infrastructure, and management and enforcement regimes necessary to make the vision of a system of protected areas a success,” said Turner. He bragged that, “In total, we have the potential of developing as many as 27 national parks and protecting more than 10 million hectares.” In the African Congo!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The US, noted Turner, will let some countries reduce their debt by agreeing to “protect valuable tropical forests.” Peru, for example, won’t have to pay what it owes us in return for preserving 12.5 million hectares of rain forest. What Turner doesn’t mention is that logging is one of the ways Peruvians have of making a living and depriving them of that, much as was done to many American logging communities in our Northwestern States, will destroy an important element of that nation’s economy.
It was a long speech filled with similar examples where American tax dollars either are paid out or foreign debt to us is just written off in the name of saving the environment. And you wonder why this nation has a huge deficit? Money that should be used to support our military or returned to the States to build highways, renovate old schools, fix up local parks and recreation areas, fix sewage systems, and so much more is going to the Congo and who knows where else!
I can’t, however, leave go of Turner’s speech without noting his view of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Control, otherwise known as the global warming treaty. Mind you, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution rejecting it. Clinton never even submitted it for consideration, and Bush let it be known it was “seriously flawed” in terms of its bogus science.
But John F. Turner of the US Department of State told his audience that “We remain active in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and support its ultimate goal: the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate.” NO, WE DO NOT! That is not the policy of the United States unless Turner knows something that the Congress and White House does not.
And, apparently he does. Turner noted “the United States has cemented 13 formal bilateral relationships with both developed and developing nation to address climate change.”
And here’s the kicker! “What’s more, the US spends $1.7 billion annually on climate science and related science, more than the rest of the world combined.” It gets worse! “Over the next five years, the United States has pledged $1.7 billion to develop clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.” That’s billion with a “B” for an automobile that nobody wants, nor needs.
The waste of tax dollars in the name of the environment is beyond comprehension, but it illustrates just how totally infiltrated the federal government is with both legislators and civil servants who feel free to ignore the best interests of Americans. In the process, they are destroying the key element of our economy, private property, and, in the name of “sustainable development”, seeking to thwart every manner of development.
What else can you call the authors of an article in an early January edition of the journal Nature, other than liars? Their assertion of mass extinctions of species by 2050, resulting from global warming, is pure fiction, but it was trumpeted in a January 7 press release from Conservation International as the “most comprehensive analysis to date.” And it received worldwide news coverage.
As this is being written, the temperature outside my window is about ten degrees above zero and mid-to-late January is setting records for frigid arctic air flowing from the North. One would think that the press might pause a moment to contemplate the weather outside, actual weather records, and the claims that global warming is just around the corner. It bothers me that the press, after decades of this kind of Green blather, is so irresponsible about such stories. Unfailingly they leap upon the wild claim and rarely, if ever, seek credible scientists to refute it. If they do find someone to quote, it is always buried deep in the story.
The other thing that really bothers me is that it was just one more Big Green Lie from so-called scientists in the never-ending effort to frighten the public into believing that (1) the global warming theory has any basis in fact and (2) that every human activity on Earth must be made subservient to avoid it. Conservation International (CI) began by claiming “Climate change could drive more than a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction, according to a major new study published in tomorrow’s edition of the journal Nature.”
Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, writing in the January 15 issue of the Washington Times, issued a timely warming that “The politicization of scientific papers on global warming and the tendency of science journals to rush to judgment have to end.”
Notice, too, that the Greens have dropped “global warming” in favor of the term “climate change.” This might be because their effort to get the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol on Climate Control ratified has proved a massive failure. Its so-called science has been refuted. (Even the Russians refused to ratify it once they realized it would destroy their economy. This is a treaty that exempted Red China and India from even having to participate!) It was the same so-called science journal, Nature, which in 1996 published a paper supporting the global warming theory just one day before the UN conference that gave birth to the Kyoto Protocol.
CI informs us that it “applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the hotspots, major tropical wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington,DC, CI works in almost 40 countries on four continents.” Apparently, “innovations” include publishing bogus scientific studies.
As the Competitive Enterprise Institute was quick to point out, the latest study, co-authored by 19 “researchers”, was based on “computer modeling” for its predictions. Global warming is, of course, also based on computer modeling. There isn’t a computer large enough or even a system of linked computers that can reliably predict the weather much beyond three to five days. In February 2003, the worst blizzard in seven years shut down a broad swath of the eastern United States. The National Weather Service, which has some of the most sophisticated computers ever made, was very, very surprised by the severity of the blizzard.
The weather is the very definition of chaos. No computer model can possibly take in the constant changes that occur everywhere on the globe. At best, they do a credible job of spotting conditions about forty-eight to seventy-two hours ahead of events.
Computer “models” can produce just about any result they are intended to achieve. Statistics can lie and liars can use statistics.
Writing for Tech Central Station in early January, Iain Murray neatly dispatched the conclusion of the study. “There are several reasons this claim should be laughed out of court of public opinion. First, the research doesn’t say what the researchers themselves claim. They have extrapolated to all species a model that looked at only 1,103 species in certain areas (243 of those species were South American poroteaceae, a family of evergreen shrubs and trees). For one thing, we don’t know how many species there are—estimates vary from 2 million to 80 million—and have only documented 1.6 million. However, assuming the 14 million figure widely used in the press reports is anywhere near accurate, the same size is a mere 0.008 percent of the total species population of the plant
MILAN, Italy — On many of the walls here at the Feira Milano conference center, site of the giant United Nations meeting on climate change, Green activists have posted flamboyant posters showing a picture of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla), with a quotation from him: “Global warming is ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.'”
The idea being proffered by these sophisticates, of course, is that Inhofe is a typical American rube. Global warming a hoax! What a dope!
In fact, Inhofe is one of the best-informed Senators on the science and economics of global warming. And “global warming” — as it’s used by environmental extremists — is indeed a hoax.
Yes, the Earth’s surface has warmed a bit over the past century, but is that warming caused mainly by humans or by natural cycles? And can changes in human activity — specifically reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions — have anything more than a tiny effect on temperature? The answers to those questions, which are at the heart of the Kyoto Protocol and other attempts to force cuts in energy use, are simply unknown.
It is the claim of certainty that is a hoax. It’s a dangerous one, too, since using global-warming theory as the basis for extreme policy mandates could plunge the world into a long-term recession or even a depression.
The quote on the poster comes from Inhofe’s speech during debate over the McCain-Lieberman bill that would have curtailed greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States, a measure similar to the Kyoto Protocol, which President Bush rejected in 2001 as “fatally flawed” and which still lacks enough ratifying nations for implementation six years after it was signed. McCain-Lieberman was rejected, too — in part because of Inhofe’s strenuous efforts as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
One of the themes being promoted by Greens at this conference is that the American people want Kyoto-style measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions and that the close vote on McCain-Lieberman proves it. Wednesday’s issue of ECO, the daily conference newsletter backed by WWF International, Greenpeace and other environmental groups, refers to “mounting anger at home” to President Bush’s stance on climate change. “The American public is catching on to this charade,” claims ECO.
But several times this week, Inhofe has patiently explained the real arithmetic behind the Senate vote. First, it was 16 votes short of the 60 effectively needed for passage under Senate rules. Second, it was riddled with concessions to win votes. Without the amendments, Inhofe figures only 32 Senators would have backed it. Finally, the bill was sold under a claim that it would cost only $20 per household per year. A study commissioned by TechCentralStation and performed by Charles River Associates, the respected economic research firm, found that the costs would be at least 17 times that much.
Inhofe heads a congressional delegation of eight Republicans in Milan. The others are Sens. Larry Craig (Idaho), Craig Thomas (Wyo.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Reps. Chris Cannon (Utah), Fred Upton (Mich.), Chris Shays (Conn.) and Jim Greenwood (Pa). There are no Democratic members of Congress here but plenty of Democratic staffers.
I sat down with Inhofe at breakfast at his hotel in Milan Thursday morning. Considering the fact that nothing much has been happening at COP-9, the ninth United Nations conference of the parties to the 1992 Rio agreement on the environment, I started by asking why he was here.
“I’m here,” he said, “to show that we are not going to ratify Kyoto.”
That’s Inhofe at his finest. Straight talk. No nonsense.
Unlike some other members of Congress, who accept the scientific basis for Kyoto but say that the treaty costs too much and exempts developing countries, Inhofe disputes the science. He knows the studies, and he recognizes that the tide has turned in the past few years.
“Virtually all of the research since 1999 has been refuting [the theory of human-caused global warming]. It is ludicrous that Kyoto can be as damaging economically as it is when there is no science to justify it.”
New research, for example, has challenged Michael Mann’s “hockey-stick” formula, which asserts that temperatures have risen sharply, in an unprecedented fashion. In fact, warming was worse centuries ago, before industrialization and automobiles.
The delegation met Wednesday with counterparts from Europe, and Inhofe and many of his colleagues were shocked at the Europeans’ refusal even to consider scientific research that casts doubt on predictions of cataclysmic warming. “They just don’t want to talk about the science,” said Inhofe. “They don’t want to listen. They were Zombies” — unlike “real people in the U.S.” Those Americans, said Inhofe, “we are turning around” with the recent research.
Some members of the delegation have been as forceful as Inhofe on the subject of climate-change science. For example, in 1998, with Bill Clinton in the White House, Sen. Larry Craig said, “As more and more American scientists review the available data on global warming, it is becoming increasingly clear that the vast majority believe the commitments for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions made by the administration in the Kyoto Protocol are an unnecessary response to an exaggerated threat the vice president himself [i.e., Al Gore] is caught up in making.”
The talk of the conference has been Russia. Will the Russians ratify Kyoto? The treaty requires the votes of nations producing 55 percent of all emissions from developed countries. Currently, the tally is 44 percent, so the Russians, with 17 percent, hold the key.
Inhofe says that some Russians see negotiations on ratification “as a way to make some money. They want to see how big the bribe will be.” But, in the end, he thinks the Russians will reject Kyoto, for reasons of science and economics, just as Bush rejected it as shortly after his inauguration.
“I’m proud of Putin for having the courage to look at the science,” said Inhofe, referring to the Russian president. “In this environment, it takes courage.”
Inhofe also agrees with the assessment that this has been a particularly depressing conference for the Greens. The plenary sessions are only about half-full, and “there was no enthusiasm in the room.”
Meanwhile, Inhofe points out, the United States is shelling out $4.7 million, footing the bill for about one-fourth of the cost of the U.N.’s extravaganza. But the price may be worthwhile, if only because Inhofe is getting his message out. He’s teaching the value of straight talking to the Europeans and the Green NGO officials who, for a long time now, have assumed they can set the world’s agenda. This year, with Kyoto on its deathbed, they’re learning otherwise. It’s delightful to see.
Milan, Italy — Here they go again. In this vibrant northern Italy city, with the snowy Alps in the background and the most gorgeous Gothic cathedral in Europe in the foreground, thousands of delegates from 188 countries have gathered for a United Nations conference to discuss how to implement the Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases caused by human activity and, so the controversial theory goes, limit global warming.
The meeting is called COP-9, for “conference of the parties, nine.” It’s an annual moveable feast, funded with gouts of U.N. money (the budget is $18 million a year). What’s expected to happen here? Basically, nothing — besides the aggrandizement of the ever-growing climate-change industry, fueled by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have been scaring the pants off donors for a decade.
There are a lot of gloomy environmentalists walking around the halls of the gigantic Feria Milano. They have finally gotten the message that Kyoto is on its deathbed.
It is now six years since the agreement was signed, and it still has not been ratified. “We would have liked to announce and welcome here, in Milan, at COP 9, the first meeting of the parties of the Kyoto Protocol,” said Altero Matteoli, Italy’s environment minister, in his welcoming remarks to the conference. “Unfortunately, we did not have this opportunity.”
Nor is he likely to have it in the future. The treaty requires the assent of countries accounting for 55 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted by industrial nations. With Russia’s refusal to ratify, the tally is just 44 percent. The Russians may change their minds if the Europeans provide enough blandishment and bribery, but few realists here are counting on a reversal. Instead, the theme that has developed in the early days of this extravaganza, which began Dec. 1 and ends on Friday, is “beyond Kyoto.”
That was the title of a 170-page report issued by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a well-heeled U.S.-based NGO. The report was announced at a sparsely attended press conference (of a dozen attendees, three were from TechCentralStation).
Eileen Claussen, the Pew Center’s president, began by saying, “We are not ready to conclude that the Kyoto Protocol is dead, but whether or not it enters into force, we have to think about what comes next.”
In other words, Kyoto is only a “first step,” as Claussen put it, and it is time to move on to leapfrog to step two, whether step one is achieved or not.
Similar sentiments were offered by Boerge Brende, the Norwegian environment minister who also serves as chairman of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development. In an interview, he said, “We need to start involving developing nations” — which Kyoto exempts. “I’m not saying they have to promise to cut emissions,” he added quickly.
Meanwhile, another influential NGO, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has issued a report that contends that there is significant political and business support in the U.S. for mandatory emissions cuts even though the Bush Administration “has consistently rejected such a responsible approach” and has “time and time again picked short-term gains for big business over the long-term stability of the planet.”
But Claussen, Brende and the WWF appear to be whistling past the graveyard. The Russians have all but buried Kyoto — and for the same reasons that President Bush rejected it as “fatally flawed in early 2001: The agreement is based on uncertain science, and it will cause serious economic harm. As Dr. Yury Izrael, a Russian scientific leader, put it, “The most important issue is whether the Kyoto Protocol would improve the climate, stabilize it, or make it worse. This is not very clear.”
The shaky science behind Kyoto has become manifest this year with the publication of articles in scientific journals that show that the current century is not the warmest in the past millennium; that the “hockey-stick” formulation by Michael Mann, showing sharply rising temperatures, is faulty; and that the Earth’s major climate swings are likely linked to the activity of stars, including our Sun.
The Russian decision, however, is mainly rooted in economics. As Andrei Illarionov, who is President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisor, put it, “The United States and Australia have calculated that they cannot bear the economic consequences of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. If they aren’t rich enough to deal with those consequences, my question is whether Russia is much richer than the U.S. or Australia?”
In fact, it is the growing Russian economy that may have put the nail in the Kyoto coffin. The Europeans constructed the treaty in a way which, they expected, would compel Russia to ratify for financial reasons. The agreement requires that industrial nations reduce their emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels. Russia’s emissions today are about 32 percent below those of 1990 because of the post-Soviet industrial meltdown. The assumption was that the Russians could then sell credits for these reductions to other nations under a trading scheme.
But Putin and his advisors believe Russia will meet a goal of doubling Gross Domestic Product by 2010. If that happens, then Russia’s emissions, says Illarionov, will rise to 104 percent of their 1990 levels. Thus, Russia won’t have emissions credits to sell. To the contrary, it will have to cut emissions itself, with depressive effects on its economy.
“Russia today has the opportunity to sell quotas [i.e., credits],” said Putin in an October speech at a World Economic Forum meeting in Moscow. “We hope such opportunities no longer exist.”
With that statement, Putin summed up the case against Kyoto: At a time when so many developing nations are struggling to provide decent lives for their citizens, Kyoto-style measures will prolong poverty. And, with the science of warming so uncertain, the question is, For what?
With such serious drawbacks, no wonder the NGO “extremists” who dominate these conferences want to move “beyond Kyoto.” But opponents of mandatory emissions cuts would be mistaken if they become complacent with their successes of the past few years. It’s almost certain that the environmental activists and their U.N. colleagues will regroup and come out swinging again — if only to keep this lucrative moveable feast moving.