Bad Science Brings Bad Treaty

BY ALL accounts, the recently completed global warming treaty will be dead on arrival if it goes to the Senate in its current form. That would be a wonderful outcome for tank trucking-and industry in general.

The treaty is a global nightmare that takes bad science to a new low. It will impose incredibly high economic costs on the United States and industrialized nations of Western Europe, but there is no guarantee that the stated objectives can be achieved. The treaty has many flaws.

The Clinton Administration has brushed aside all criticism of the treaty. President Bill Clinton is threatening to implement the pact through executive order. Apparently, he sees it as a cornerstone of his legacy as president. He's been desperate for something of this magnitude ever since the health care debacle during his first term.

Vice-president Al Gore has been the administration's point man on global warming. He's also desperate for the United States to ratify the treaty. He wants to be president, and he's counting on the global warming treaty as a key component in his campaign platform. He wants it badly enough that he joined the United Nations delegates in Kyoto, Japan, to personally lobby for what emerged as the Kyoto Protocol.

With Vice-president Gore in the lead, US negotiators sold out the US position. They agreed to cut US emissions of greenhouse gases by 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. They dropped demands for a number of points that President Clinton promised he would require in any treaty, including trading credits in global emissions of greenhouse gases and participation by developing nations.

In all, 120 countries (including China, Brazil, Mexico, and India, which have some of the highest greenhouse gases emissions in the world) refused to accept any limits on their use of energy and consequent emissions of greenhouse gases. Many of the same countries refused to join the Montreal Protocol that curbed production of chlorofluorocarbons. The Montreal Protocol was based on bad science and was intended to halt damage to the Earth's ozone layer.

If the Senate ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, we will all pay a much higher price than we did for the Montreal Protocol. Energy costs will skyrocket. The most conservative estimates suggest that cutting carbon dioxide emissions to levels specified in the treaty would cost the average US household more than $2,000 per year. The price for heating oil would rise by 55%, electricity 48%, and gasoline 36%.

The president's economic team suggested that the ambitious targets accepted in Kyoto could trigger economic upheaval and energy-price increases greater than the 1970s oil shocks. There is broad agreement that exemptions for developing nations would put US industry at a competitive disadvantage, force companies and jobs overseas, and devastate key sectors of the US economy.

The industries served by tank truck operations would be among the hardest hit. Analysts suggest that chemical industry output would fall by at least 1.5% by 2010 and 4.0% by 2030. Refineries also would be forced to close.

It's ironic that we are being asked to make these major sacrifices for an environmental issue that may be more conjecture than fact. Many scientists admit that they lack a precise understanding of the global warming issue.

Michael T Halbouty and Gerald T Westbrook presented a detailed analysis of the issue in a recent article in the Houston (Texas) Chronicle. Halbouty, a geo-scientist, is chairman and chief executive officer of Michael T Halbouty Energy Co. Westbrook, a chemical engineer and economist, is president of TSBV Consultants and a senior associate at the CBA Energy Institute at the University of Houston.

They wrote that "proponents of global warming have not made their case. Rather, we suspect their commitment and passion have more to do with their vision of new energy taxes that, while starting deceptively low, would rise dramatically over time. This would create a huge revenue stream flowing into Washington along with more centralized, inefficient, and intrusive controls. In spite of an incredible propaganda effort, such measures are not warranted today, based on the quality of current scientific evidence."

They added that, among other things, there has been an effort to link the Earth's temperature with carbon dioxide concentrations. Vice-president Gore is a proponent of this viewpoint. Typically, he shows a graph of temperature and carbon dioxide plotted versus time over 200,000 years. Gore uses the chart to claim that carbon dioxide and temperature have moved in lockstep. Change in carbon dioxide level precedes that for temperature, and hence is the cause for that change.

Halbouty and Westbrook take issue with the theory, contending that there are too many flaws. "With each point on Gore's graph representing about 2,500 years, data compression is huge," they said. "Indeed, the vice-president's graph might equally have been used to argue that the reverse relationship exists-that the change in temperature causes the change in carbon dioxide."

Halbouty and Westbrook concluded with the following: "There are many reasons to believe a global warming catastrophe is not imminent. Our climate is far more complex than (treaty proponents) have depicted. It is subject to incredible natural forces of great magnitude. It is a system where dramatic change is the rule. Mother Nature has proven time and time again to be strong and resilient. She has repeatedly been able to cope with these dramatic changes."

Let's put aside the bad science and this badly flawed treaty. Let's get some real answers before we agree to environmental programs that can do more harm than good.

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