EVEN if the Kyoto accords didn't deserve dumping in and of themselves, it would have been worth doing just for the pleasure of watching Europe go bananas. "Mark yesterday's date," wrote Geoffrey Lean in the Evening Standard. "It is no exaggeration to say that 28 March 2001 may prove to be one of the most important days in the history of the world." Michael Meacher thought it could lead to the planet becoming "uninhabitable". John Gummer called it an assault on European sovereignty (whatever that is). Globally warming to his theme, he decided he wasn't going to have Yankee imperialism shoved down his throat like a Tory minister's daughter being force-fed a BSE quarterpounder. "We are not going to allow our climate to be changed by somebody else," he roared, threatening an international trade war against the United States. You go, girl! Why not refuse to sell the Yanks your delightful British beef?
Following Gummem Hussein's attack on the Great Satan, the Express declared "Polluter Bush An Oil Industry Stooge" and The Independent dismissed the President as a "pig-headed and blinkered politician in the pocket of the US oil companies". But enough of his good points. According to the eco-alarmists of the Seventies, there wasn't supposed to be any oil industry to be a stooge of by now. The oil was meant to run out by 2000. Being in the pocket of the oil companies should be about as lucrative as being in the pocket of the buggy-whip manufacturers. But somehow the environmental doom-mongers never learn - so concerned about reducing everybody else's toxic emissions, but determined to keep their own going at full blast.
So now "this ignorant, short-sighted and selfish politician" (Friends of the Earth) is dumping Kyoto because it "irked the American right" (The Independent). It's certainly true that, for a Republican, there's little to be gained in kissing up to what Dubya's dad called "the spotted owl crowd". Indeed, if I understand this global-warming business correctly, the danger is that the waters will rise and drown the whole of Massachusetts, New York City, Long Island, the California coast and a few big cities on the Great Lakes - in other words, every Democratic enclave will be wiped out leaving only the solid Republican heartland. Politically speaking, for conservatives there's no downside to global warming.
But I don't think it will come to that. The UN's report on climate change, issued in January, insists that the 20th century was the warmest in the last millennium. But it measures the 11th to the 19th centuries with one system (tree ring samples) and the 20th with another (thermometers). The resultant graph looks like a long bungalow tacked on to the side of the Empire State Building - but only because the UN is using incompatible sets of data. That's why, according to their survey, most of the alleged warming occurred in the early 20th century, when America was a predominantly rural economy: if the UN report proves anything, it's that, as soon as folks got off their horses and starting buying automobiles, the rate of global warming slowed down.
Maybe there really is global warming. And maybe the 4.5 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases we humans generate is responsible for it, as opposed to the 95.5 per cent generated by nature. But, as long as the UN and others substitute hot air for hard science, Bush is right to suspect it's eco-bunk. Even American politicians who believe in global warming don't believe in Kyoto. Geoffrey Lean might like to note that the day that will live in infamy is not March 28, 2001 but July 26, 1997 - the date when the US Senate voted against the proposed treaty 95-0. Not one Senator - not even Ted Kennedy - voted in favour. In Kyoto, Al Gore signed anyway, but that old fraud Clinton never bothered sending it to the Senate for ratification because he needed 67 votes and he knew he was 67 short. Mr Lean and his chums have had four years to get used to the idea that Kyoto's dead, not because of one right-wing oil stooge but because of the entire American political establishment. It's doubtful whether even Senator Hillary Clinton would vote for this. When Bush announced he'd be drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, Hillary said his "charm offensive" was really a "harm offensive". When Bush decided against Federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, Hillary observed that "it looks like we've gone from CO2 to 'See you later'." When he scrapped proposed federally-mandated reductions on arsenic in the water supply, she jeered, "It's arsenic and about face". But when Bush scrapped Kyoto, Hill made no puns whatsoever. Even Hillary knows Kyoto's off the graph.
As for John Gummer's protests about the US invading European sovereignty, the whole treaty is an assault on national sovereignty, especially America's. The US cannot comply with the accords without substantial job losses - 100,000 in Michigan alone, 80,000 in Georgia. Worse, the treaty would set up an international emissions-trading market, whereby the only way to mitigate against the economic shrinkage would be for the US to buy "pollution permits" from Russia, India or various developing countries, which would be allowed to sell their "pollution rights" for billions of dollars which they could then use to reduce their own emissions. The US would wind up paying the Russian mafia or the Congo's nutcake of the month for the privilege of not closing an auto plant in Flint, Michigan. Do you really think the generals and the KGB are going to let the Kremlin spend an estimated $40 billion cheque from Uncle Sam on cleaner factories for lead-free Ladas? At best you'd have a greenhouse-gas version of the European Fisheries Policy, under which the British can't fish in their own waters but any passing Spaniard trailing his pantyhose off the back of the trawler can. The Kyoto treaty was a deranged proposal to give the world's loopier jurisdictions a veto over America's economy.
The US was supposed to go along with this because it would be a "symbolic gesture". But we've had eight years of symbolic gestures, and Bush feels it's time to get real, especially on the environment. Messrs Gummer, Lean and the overheated Europeans should chill out. Every significant environmental improvement - from lead-free gas to recycling - comes from America, and global warming, such as it is, will be solved - like most problems - by American ingenuity, not Euro-regulation. The era of Clintonian posturing is over, chaps. Wake up and smell the CO2.