Posted on August 15, 2003
Green, With Envy
No "smoking gun" needed to attack the U.S.
Representatives of the United Nations may never have expressed much concern about Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, but they have settled on some "weapons of mass destruction" that they believe must be sought and destroyed. Your car, for example, is the kind of super-destructive "weapon" that is a threat to millions, if not billions, of lives. So is your barbecue grill and your air conditioner -- and, more generally, your elevated, American standard of living.
Take it from British scientist John Houghton, who occupied a chair at the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In a July 28th op-ed piece published in the Guardian, Houghton made the bizarre declaration that "the impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a 'weapon of mass destruction'."
That itself is a revealing suggestion of his motives. He has "no hesitation" in taking a hypothetical environmental phenomenon which, if real, might have detrimental long-term effects, and likening it to a deliberate mass killing? The comparison presumes the existence of a villain. If global warming is a weapon, then who possesses it, and for what purpose?
According to Houghton, "Nowadays everyone knows that the U.S. is the world's biggest polluter, and that with only one 20th of the world's population it produces a quarter of its greenhouse gas emissions. But the U.S. government, in an abdication of leadership of epic proportions, is refusing to take the problem seriously."
As a result of American-inflicted global warming, he claims, "The U.S. mainland was struck by 562 tornadoes in May ... killing 41 people," but that, "The developing world is the hardest hit. ... Pre-monsoon temperatures this year in India reached a blistering 49C (120F) -5C (9F) above normal. Once this killer heat wave began to abate, 1,500 people lay dead -- half the number killed outright in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre [sic]"
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix spared us the vulgar 9-11 comparison, but nevertheless agreed with Houghton's assessment in an MTV interview, when he discounted the importance of finding Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction by saying, "To me, the question of the environment is more ominous than peace and war. We will have regional conflicts and use of force, but world conflicts I do not believe will happen any longer. But the environment, that is a creeping danger. I'm more concerned about global warming than I am about any major military conflict."
One might expect that the interviewer all but begged Blix to say this, but that wasn't the case. This odd mental morsel of his was contributed voluntarily, without the slightest prodding from MTV's John Norris. Like Houghton, Blix used the occasion of the war in Iraq as a link to his environmental activism. It's as if they feel compelled to signal to their fellow leftists who they think the real enemy is.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who as far as most of the world could tell probably spent much of the Iraqi conflict buried under a rosebush in some scientist's yard, has been far more visible in his promotion of the Kyoto Protocol. In a May 2001 address at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Annan criticized President Bush for refusing to sign the U.N. treaty, which would require the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels.
"Imagine melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, threatening beloved and highly developed coastal areas such as Cape Cod with erosion and storm surges," he warned. "Imagine a warmer and wetter world in which infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever spread more easily. This is not some distant worst-case scenario. It is tomorrow's forecast."
Mind you, one of the occasions on which Annan popped out of his hole to remark on the Iraqi situation was when he declared any U.S.-led invasion to be illegitimate without the unanimous approval of the U.N. Security Council. To him, as long as Russia and France were trying to obstruct the United States, unanimity equaled legitimacy. As far as the United Nations' own initiatives are concerned, their legitimacy is unquestioned, therefore it is dissent which is deemed illegitimate.
The global warming theory, which is not nearly as widely accepted by scientists as the U.N. would have us believe, is highly suspect on many levels. It's dubious to infer a mean global annual temperature from a collection of data from weather stations scattered around the world in the first place. But it was discovered in 2001 that the 0.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature attributed to greenhouse gases was arrived at in part by taking buckets of water from the ocean, and then falsely assuming a direct link between the water temperature and the temperature of the air above it. Even if these measurements had been reliable, though, comparing them with data taken with different equipment over a century earlier would be bound to show an anomaly.
Environmentalists finger carbon dioxide, and more specifically, that amount of it which is produced from the burning of fossil fuels, as the chief culprit. Of course, carbon dioxide is produced naturally in mass quantities -- by volcanoes, fires, decomposing plants, and the respiration of people and animals, among other sources -- but it is also absorbed by the oceans and forests. Adherents to the global warming theory state with certainty that the earth perfectly balances those natural sources of CO2, but that the amount of that same compound created by voluntary human activity throws that delicate balance out of kilter. Why would that be? Nature does not produce CO2 at a consistent, predictable rate, yet large quantities that are produced suddenly, as from volcanoes, are absorbed all the same. To conclude that this natural cycle is incapable of handling a relatively small and steady increase, just because that increase is man-made, defies reason.
Besides, CO2 is not nearly as absorbent, and therefore not nearly as proficient in reflecting infrared rays back to the earth's surface, as greenhouse gases that exist in far lesser amounts, like methane and nitrous oxide. The most abundant greenhouse gas, and the one with by far the greatest influence on the earth's temperature, is water vapor ... but don't expect Mr. Houghton to combat it by demanding a moratorium on tea.
The U.N. does not even entertain the theory that any recent rise in the earth's temperature is due to an increase in solar activity. Is it so improbable that the sun could have a greater effect on climate change than, say, your lawnmower? According to a June 3rd, 1999 story from the BBC, scientists at England's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory claimed that an increase in the output of solar energy is concurrent with an increase in the amount of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere. They suggested that it may have been the sun's energy that heated the oceans, thereby preventing them from absorbing as much CO2 as they do at cooler temperatures. This would mean that any increase in atmospheric CO2 is the result of a temporary drop in the oceanic absorption rate, and does not require any draconian corrective measures that would cripple the American economy, as would be required if the U.S. ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Several recent studies from different sources have claimed to have discovered that warming trends are now underway on Mars and Pluto, as well as the largest of Neptune's moons. If this is true, it does not necessarily prove that the sun is responsible, but it ought to at least moderate the zeal with which globalists blame thousands of tragic weather-related deaths on ordinary Americans.
Where, it must be asked, is the "smoking gun" that assigns blame for tornadoes and other acts of nature on human beings? Where is the proof to back up Mr. Houghton's assertion that Americans are guilty of atrocities at least half as bad as the attack on the World Trade Center?
The United Nations has been much more hesitant to draw conclusions about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, although the evidence of them is far more concrete. When Hans Blix discovered an unmanned Iraqi drone, which had not been declared in Saddam's 12,000-page report, he was quick to insist that the find was not a "smoking gun." When inspectors found eleven "forgotten" chemical warheads in Iraq, Blix again assured the press that "it is not a smoking gun."
When Iraqi scientist Mahdi Obeidi turned over nuclear weapons components he'd been ordered to bury in his yard, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that it was not "evidence of a smoking gun." Despite everything that Saddam had hidden and failed to report, IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei graded him a "B" on his cooperation with inspectors.
Blix explained this pliability by saying, "I was always more prudent in my approach. I am a lawyer. In a court, things should be beyond reasonable doubt." Generously, he added, "It's true the Iraqis misbehaved and had no credibility, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were in the wrong."
Blix does not, on the other hand, entertain reasonable doubts about global warming, nor does the United Nations demand to be shown a "smoking gun" linking it to voluntary human activity. If it did, it would have shelved the Kyoto Protocol indefinitely, until conclusive evidence could be found.
In his Tufts University address, Kofi Annan convincingly linked CO2 emissions not to a rise in global temperature, but to a rise in affluence, when he noted, "The United States, as you probably know, is the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, largely because it is the world's most successful economy." Annan is aware that economic success at this point in time translates into relatively high CO2 emissions, and he assumes that those emissions are causing supernatural disasters. Therefore, he must figure, economic success is among the greatest threats to mankind.
Actually, that's been the U.N.'s philosophy all along. The theory of global warming is just giving them another chance to exercise it. This was probably most vividly illustrated at the 1992 U.N. "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro, when Fidel Castro, of all people, warned about the threat America poses to the environment.
Cuba, meanwhile, is an ecological shambles, due in part to its dilapidated sewage system, insufficient garbage collection, and reckless handling of nuclear waste. No truly committed environmentalist should ever wish to be in the audience for one of Castro's speeches, other than to pelt the tinhorn Communist dictator with vegetables. But those assembled at the Earth Summit gave him a standing ovation, and these excerpts reveal why:
"It is necessary to point out that consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment. ... With only twenty percent of the world's population, these societies consume two-thirds of the metals and three-fourths of the energy produced in the world. They have poisoned the seas and rivers, polluted the air, weakened and punctured the ozone layer, saturated the atmosphere with gases which are changing weather conditions with a catastrophic effect we are already beginning to experience.
" ... Population pressures and poverty trigger frenzied efforts to survive even when it is at the expense of the environment. It is not possible to blame the Third World countries for this. Yesterday, they were colonies; today, they are nations exploited and pillaged by an unjust international economic order. ... Tens of millions of men, women, and children die every year in the Third World as a result of this, more than in each of the two World Wars.
" ... If we want to save mankind from this self-destruction, we have to better distribute the wealth and technologies available in the world. Less luxury and less waste by a few countries is needed so there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the earth. ... Let us implement a just international economic order."
His audience was not fazed by his blaming capitalism for the poverty he's inflicted on his own country, and the environmental problems that have arisen from it, not to mention the people he and other Communist leaders have killed. That's because this wasn't really a speech about the environment at all. He might as well have blamed "consumer societies" for the craters in the moon; the United Nations would have applauded him all the same.
That's why globalists do not require a "smoking gun" to prove global warming. To them, its existence or nonexistence is of secondary importance to the potential economic impact of its prescribed remedy. If they were able to impose the Kyoto Protocol on the U.S., and it succeeded in decreasing Americans' productivity and lowering our standard of living, but failed to show any impact on global temperatures, they would still hail it as a success. They'd probably even argue that the only reason it hadn't fulfilled its stated objective was that it didn't go far enough.
If the environment were really such a prominent concern of theirs, then just think how much more harshly they'd have dealt with Saddam Hussein. Maybe they don't care if he breaks treaties, violates U.N. resolutions, collaborates with terrorists, and kills and tortures innocent people, but they should at least be furious with him for setting fire to the Kuwaiti oil fields in a deliberate attempt to cause a massive ecological disaster. In so doing, he burned over one billion barrels of oil! He released another ten million barrels into the Persian Gulf. The Exxon Valdez spilled a mere 265,000 barrels by comparison.
Oh, well. At least Saddam kept his people oppressed, so that they could not become productive enough to enjoy their own country's wealth of natural resources. Thanks to him, Iraq has not, in Castro's terminology, inflicted more injustice on the international economic order. To the United Nations, that's apparently what really counts.
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