by William Robert Johnston
in The Brownsville Herald, April 4, 2001, p. A10 A long time ago kings and rulers might be advised by magicians, astrologers, and other charlatans. These mystics would prey on leaders--and through them, on entire societies--by using the false superstitious beliefs of all involved. These people mostly went away with the advent of science. But they're back--this time using the name of science. A vocal minority of the scientific community, with the help of unqualified outsiders, has persuaded many politicians to pursue plans that would be economically devastating. The story this time is global warming. The "global warmers" produced the Kyoto treaty of 1997. However, the facts completely disprove what these people are saying about climate change. We've all heard the stories, reported as indisputable fact: The last century or decade is just about the hottest the world has ever been. Carbon dioxide from burning gasoline and coal is blamed. Unless their solution is enacted right now, temperatures will rise terribly in the next century. Icecaps will start to melt, coasts will flood, storms will get worse, diseases will spread, animals will die, and more. And it's all because of us Americans. The best lies contain a measure of truth. Yes, carbon dioxide in the air has increased in the last century due to the use of fossil fuels. Yes, global average temperature has increased 0.8 degrees F in the same century. Unfortunately, the temperature increase came first: most of the temperature increase was before 1940, and most of the new carbon dioxide was added after 1960. Would you trust a "scientist" who said the result came before the cause? There are other problems, as well. Solar activity may be the cause of the world temperature changes. The global warmers can't explain why satellites show no temperature change in the past 20 years. The computer models that predict disaster in a century have been completely wrong for the past 20 years. And no one can agree on the side effects. Scientific facts actually helped unravel the treaty last year. Carbon dioxide is removed from the air by various natural and manmade processes, and world leaders couldn't agree on how to credit for this. No one wanted the U.S. to get credit for removals of carbon dioxide, so negotiations faltered. Most scientists use facts and logic to reach conclusions. It's no surprise that over 17,000 scientists and engineers have signed a petition calling for rejection of the Kyoto treaty. This overshadows any collection of scientists that have endorsed the treaty. The global warmers have failed to prove that man has caused a problem. This hasn't stopped them from demanding we act, and act now. The Kyoto Protocol called for the U.S. and other western nations to shoulder most of the limits on fossil fuel energy use. Developing countries suffer little or no restrictions. Those countries are obviously enthusiastic. The economic powerhouses would have their hands tied, while would-be competitors like mainland China would not. President Bush has sided with the scientific facts in recently declining to implement the Kyoto limits. After all, the treaty is so bad the Senate opposed it 95 to zero. Bush and Congress must go further. They should refuse any regulation of carbon dioxide emissions whatsoever. Consider the impact of the restrictions still promoted by some. The U.S. would have to put a 50 to 100 % tax on gasoline, heating fuels, and most electricity. Local farmers and landowners will face bureaucratic restrictions hindering the use of land. In south Texas, the result would just be massive inflation and unemployment. In the developing world, suffering economies would cause starvation and death. And for all this, the restrictions can't be shown to make any difference to world climate. The primary advocates of global warming remain the environmentalists. They propose a drastic solution to a non-existent problem--a solution which is, amazingly, the same political policy they have unsuccessfully sought to impose for decades. Many of their leaders oppose free markets and seek to limit human development, and global warming is currently the best means to these ends. If people are hurt in the process, so be it. The current power supply problems in California are a perfect example. They are not a consequence of true deregulation, but of environmental and anti-free market restrictions on power production. This is the same thing proposed in Kyoto, and the same thing still promoted by some Washington leaders. As you watch your gas and electricity bills go up, recognize this as only a taste of what could have been under Kyoto--and what could still be, if environmental politics and big government win out over free markets and scientific facts.