Magazine article Insight on the News

Is Rio Treaty a Policy Trick?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Is Rio Treaty a Policy Trick?

Article excerpt

White House spin doctors are gearing up to sell America their version of global warming.

Remember the Rio treaty, the environmental accord signed by the United States, Japan and other nations five years ago in South America? Then-Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee led an American delegation to Brazil to pledge to reduce emissions of industrial pollutants, phase out the internal-combustion engine and save the planet from all things man-made.

But the treaty, formally known as the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, was only a set of guidelines. No real policies ever were implemented.

Vice President Gore hopes to change all that. In the fall, he and other enviro-politicians will meet in Kyoto, Japan, to make the dreams of Rio into real policy. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration is lobbying the public to take its side in the debate. The White House and the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, are sponsoring a series of town-hall meetings in key cities such as Chicago, Denver and Nashville in an effort to influence opinion.

But conservative and libertarian think tanks such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, as well as automobile companies including General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp., are talking to the public too.

"Get ready for the global-warming scam," Joseph L. Bast, president and founder of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, tells Insight. "There is a clear parallel between the Clinton administration's attempts to socialize health care and its campaign for mandatory caps on greenhouse-gas emissions. In both cases, negotiations are carried out behind the scenes, with no real opportunity for public participation. Once the plans are written, they are aggressively sold to the public in staged town-hall meetings, creating the appearance of democracy, which is in fact only a slick marketing process."

The science favored by Gore and his colleagues is considered suspect by many policy analysts, who reckon that holding industrial emissions at 1990 levels could cost the typical American $450 per year and export half a million manufacturing jobs to China, India and other nations. Research conducted by DRI/McGraw Hill, a Boston economic consulting and forecasting service, indicates that reducing pollutants from cars and factories to 1990 levels would require an additional tax of $200 per year on fossil fuels and further reduce job creation.

"This topic has been enormously overblown and distorted by political people who don't understand the physics of the topic," says Fred W. Decker, a professor of physical and dynamical meteorology at Oregon State University and global-warming gadfly "To adopt public policies based upon the ever-changing claims of the global-warming believers would seem folly based on gullibility. …

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