Associated Press Watch: Channeling Jan Egeland

Pretty much every loyal American, from the White House on down, scoffed at U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland when he said the U.S. was cheap.

I’ve been critical of AP writer Charles P. Hanley for following the Sierra Club line in his environmental reporting.

Here’s a news report in which the two of them get together. Egeland says some moronic things about global warming and weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, while Hanley elevates his musings into an international story.

Notice as you read this story, taken here from the San Diego Union-Tribune, that Hanley provides no counterbalance to Egeland’s and the left’s thesis that modern science has proven human beings are causing global warming and that this will cause more natural disasters.

U.S. seeks to scuttle conference text linking climate change to disasters

By Charles J. Hanley

January 19, 2005

KOBE, Japan – The U.S. delegation to a global conference on disasters wants to purge a U.N. action plan of its references to climate change as a potential cause of future natural calamities.

The U.S. stand reflects the opposition of the Bush administration to treating global warming as a priority problem.

“It’s well known that there’s controversy” about the consequences of climate change, deputy U.S. delegation head Mark Lagon told reporters Wednesday at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction. “It’s our desire that this controversy not distract this conference.”

The chief U.N. official here had a different view.

“I hope there will be a global recognition of climate change causing more natural disasters,” said Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-organized network of scientists, said in its latest major assessment of climate science that the planet is warming and that this is expected to cause more extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts, as the century wears on.

A broad scientific consensus attributes much of the warming to the accumulation of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel-burning. The Kyoto Protocol, which takes effect Feb. 16, mandates cutbacks in such emissions, but the United States, the biggest emitter, has rejected that international pact.

In its preamble, the “framework for action” drafted for adoption at the Kobe conference on Saturday says climate change is one factor pointing toward “a future where disasters could increasingly threaten the world’s economy, and its population.” Other passages call for strengthening research into global warming and for clear identification of “climate-related disaster risks.”

The U.S. delegation, supported by Australia and Canada, has called for all references to climate change to be deleted from the main document. The move is opposed by the 25-nation European Union – a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol – and by poorer nations potentially imperiled by the intensified storms, rising ocean waters and other effects of climate change.

The Bush administration has held fast to its rejection of mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, although Environmental Protection Agency administrator Mike Leavitt says that climate change is not an issue the White House dismisses. In December 2003, the administration said it was planning a five-year program to research climate change.

With global warming, millions more Bangladeshis could be displaced from low-lying coastal regions when oceans expand and rise as they receive runoff from melting ice.

“We feel there will be more calamities unless there is some action on climate change. The number of natural hazards will increase,” said Siddiqur Choudhury, a delegate from Bangladesh, where a half-million or more people were killed by cyclones in 1970 and 1991.

Egeland, the U.N. emergency coordinator overseeing the relief effort for the Indian Ocean earthquake-tsunami, which killed more than 160,000 people last month, said the world has seen “a dramatic increase in hurricanes, storm surges and climate-caused natural disasters.”

In an Associated Press interview, he noted that he hasn’t been involved in the floor debate over document language. But, he said, “there is climate change. That is not really controversial. What is controversial is what causes climate change” – a reference to dissenters who contend the role of greenhouse gases may be overstated.

John Horekens, the U.N. conference coordinator, said he saw room for compromise on the language: Inclusion of a brief reference to climate change in the action plan, and additional references in a less significant annex.

For those interested, here are a few places where the link, or lack thereof, between global warming and various disasters is discussed:

Cato Institute: Tsunami of the Absurd by Patrick J. Michaels January 10, 2005

Washington Post: Apocalypse Soon? by Patrick J. Michaels May 16, 2004

The Commons Blog: Tsunami and Global Warming by Jane Shaw, 1/19/05

National Center for Public Policy Research: Don’t Like the Weather? Don’t Blame it on Global Warming by David Ridenour, August 1998

Spiked-Risk: Extreme Weather? It’s the Norm by Brendan O’Neill, August 17, 2004

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