On-Site Report from Buenos Aires Global Warming Talks: November 10, 1998

The most significant event of the day occurred when I (representing The National Center for Public Policy Research) and Marlo Lewis and Jim Sheehan (both of the Competitive Enterprise Institute) briefed several Argentine businessmen and “Patent and Trademark” attorneys on the perils of the Kyoto Protocol.

The meeting included a presentation by Kent Bonham, Chief of Staff to Senator Chuck Hagel, on why the United States Senate is adamantly opposed to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Bonham specifically addressed the economic costs of Kyoto and the concerns many in the U.S. Senate have over the exclusion of developing nations from carbon dioxide emission reduction requirements. Bonham emphasized to the group that the Senate is not trying to gang up on developing nations such as Argentina but is insisting that it perform its duty to protect America’s national economic interests — a point no one took issue with.

Robert Haynes of Mobil Oil discussed how Kyoto would require major increases in the cost of gasoline in order to meet CO2 reduction targets.

Steve Jenkins of TECO Energy, which supplies the Tampa Bay, Florida area, explained to the group how Kyoto would force his company to take drastic steps. Currently, 98% of TECO’s plants are coal-fired. To meet Kyoto targets, TECO would have to convert 80% of its facilities to non-coal energy sources. That would force TECO to lay off hundreds of workers at its own mine and would force layoffs by the thousands at the other mines TECO contracts with.

Jenkins also emphasized how a depressed U.S. economy resulting from the Kyoto treaty would have a negative impact on developing nations’ economies, including Argentina’s. Currently, Argentina exports $2 billion, or 10% of its overall exports, to the United States. Furthermore, an increase in aviation gasoline would decrease travel and tourism to Argentina.

Don Perlman of the Climate Council emphasized that there is no way that the U.S. and many other nations could reduce CO2 emissions without reducing economic growth.

David Rothbard of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) discussed how the environmental movement is motivated by a deep and profound animus to modern industrial civilization and that Kyoto is only one round in their war.

Constance Holmes of the National Mining Association reiterated how Kyoto-inflicted damage to the U.S. economy would ripple through the global economy.

Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute told the group that just as Japan’s depression has helped depress many other Asian economies, so too would a depressed U.S. economy affect other national economies. Marlo made the point that Kyoto is falsely compared to an insurance policy: Treaty proponents assert we better do this or we will be sorry. He explained that the science was hardly conclusive, specifically mentioning how NASA’s James Hansen had backtracked on his original predictions. Marlo also made the point that, even if implemented, Kyoto would reduce the projected temperature increase a mere .1 degree Fahrenheit by 2050: A bad insurance policy against a phenomenon that most likely doesn’t exist.

Finally, I discussed how the key predictions made by global warming theory proponents have not been borne out. I related how the projected sea level increases have been repeatedly downgraded and made the point that the sea level increases that have occurred are unrelated to the climate, but linked to tectonic shifts. I also discussed how arctic warming is not occurring and glaciers are not melting due to global warming.


The Not-So-Intellectual Approach to the Global Warming DebateOn November 8, Greenpeace, Earth Action and other environmental groups put on a public relations stunt that aptly contrasted our reasoned, intellectual approach to the global warming issue and environmentalists’ emotional, scare tactics. Five “dancers” sponsored by the groups rappelled down the facade of the National University Law Building in Buenos Aires to perform a mid-air joust between “Oil Man” (dressed in a black suit) and Mother Earth. After an up and down struggle, grunting “Oil Man” killed a shrieking Mother Earth. Then, miraculously, “Oil Man” took off his suit and transformed into “Renewable Energy Man.” Mother Earth sprung to life again and the two fruitcakes happily danced. David Rothbard of Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) concluded that, shrill and silly as the event was, it precisely captured how the environmentalists view industrial civilization in general.

(Editor’s Note: The message of the environmentalists’ mid-air performance seems unclear. The editor provides these possible messages: 1. The oil industry is actually a hero is disguise. 2. The planet is far more resilient than environmentalists have ever admitted before as evidenced by Mother Earth springing back to life. 3. Greenpeace and Earth Action just wanted to place their employees lives at risk in a foreign country where they wouldn’t be bothered by that pesky Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 4. Environmentalists need to improve their communication skills.)

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.