President Pinocchio and
Global Warming
Jude Wanniski
June 7, 2001


We could see it coming when Vice President Dick Cheney made the rounds of the talk shows recently noting the administration’s concern about global warming. We still did not know how bad it would be when the White House had asked the National Academy of Sciences for a quickie report on the topic. When a panel of 11 “atmospheric scientists” came back with a report heavily laden with caveats, The New York Times ran a page-one story with a headline designed to frighten its readers: “PANEL TELLS BUSH GLOBAL WARMING IS GETTING WORSE.” Times reporter Andrew C. Revkin labels carbon dioxide a “pollutant,” which says something about the rest of his reporting on this issue. He does not even get the opening paragraph of the report correct: “Greenhouse gases are accumulating in earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.”

As you know, I have believed global warming to be a giant hoax, but there are so many people who make a living on it that it cannot be killed. President George W. Bush, who is trying to be compassionate toward environmentalists, seems to have been sucked into this dark hole. There is no way, for example, that the first sentence of the NAS report can be verified. It is true that greenhouse gases accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere, but they also must be quenched before they can cause the earth to warm, or we all would have fried eons ago. Nor have there been actual recordings of ocean “subsurface” temperatures rising as a result of human activity; the oceans never stand still. Sensors in the stratosphere should be reliable, but where they have been taking temperatures for two decades, they show no warming. There is agreement the earth is one degree Fahrenheit warmer than it was in 1900, but all of that was recorded prior to 1944, when there was a much smaller population and relatively little burning of fossil fuels. On his upcoming trip to Europe, where greenies have a greater political foothold because of the parliamentary systems, the President will confront complaints from the political leaders about his opposition to the Kyoto Treaty. Thus, we see the request for the NAS report, written by staffers who worked for the White House when Vice President Al Gore was in charge on this issue, and who have been kept on by Bush. Here is an e-mail I got today from a trusted source:

We have received further confirmation from a source in the administration that the Dark Ages Action Plan is the leading option before Bush. It is being sold as being the middle-of-the-road compromise because it doesn’t require any immediate action. Our sources tell us that the leading option presented to Bush at the cabinet meeting yesterday was presented by [Treasury] Secretary O'Neill and supported by [EPA director Christie] Whitman and perhaps [Secretary of State Colin] Powell and [National Security Advisor Condaleeza] Rice. It is based on a proposal by Jae Edmonds of the Northwest National Lab....on the idea that developing carbon dioxide control technology can be forced by government mandates. Although it pushes back the Kyoto targets, it is actually a much more radical plan than anything ever offered by Al Gore when vice president. We might call it the Dark Ages Action Plan. It would:
1. 2012--cap CO² emissions for Annex I countries at current levels.
2. 2025--cap CO² emissions for Annex I countries at ZERO.
3. 2035--cap CO² emissions for Annex II countries at current levels.
4. 2050--cap CO² emissions worldwide at ZERO.
The other options presented are variants of cap and trade systems on CO2 emissions. If any one of these plans is adopted, then we won't have to worry about building 1300 new power plants in the next twenty years -- 13 new power plants will probably be over-optimistic.
Bush likes to make up his mind quickly and at any rate is set to announce the outlines next week before the summit meeting with the EU, so we may not have much time. Clearly, the only contacts that count now are high level ones. Our best allies are [Vice President] Dick Cheney, [White House economist] Larry Lindsey, [Chairman of the President’s Council of Economics Advisors] Glenn Hubbard, [Budget Director] Mitch Daniels, [Energy Secretary] Spence Abraham, and [White House Chief of Staff] Andy Card. They need to be energized.
In particular, it needs to be pointed out that the options reportedly on the table are to the left of Gore. Also, the White House’s whole review of Kyoto policy has been conducted without any consultation with congressional allies or conservative groups. As far as we can determine, Bridgeland never invited any member of Congress to appear before the task force. This is because the pro-Kyoto forces within the administration can only succeed if their plans are kept secret. Any consultation with congressional allies will blow this up. At this point in this series of unbelievable events, the best thing Bush could probably do is send the Protocol to the Senate for a vote on ratification. This would clear the air and give Bush some ammo in defending himself against the EU [European Union].

I’m afraid, though, that the Bush team’s “best allies” are making the mistake of thinking they can corner the environmentalists on the nuclear power issue, by making concessions on global warming. In other words, they think the eco-wackos here and abroad will be embarrassed when it is pointed out that we either have to use oil and gas or go back to developing nuclear power. And if Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle is true to his word, no nuclear waste will be stored at Yucca Mountain in Nevada as long as he has a say-so, which means the only option is to ship the nuclear waste to Russia, which will be happy to accept it for a fee. But the Pentagon will have conniptions about that. President Bush now is facing another Pinocchio problem. Once you start down a certain path as President, it’s in for a dime, in for zillion dollars. Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld is already so far down the Pinocchio road on the zillion-dollar National Missile Defense that he now is making up stuff as he goes along to rationalize the boondoggle. Mr. Bush likes to make decisions quickly? Marry in haste, sir, repent at leisure. His friends should advise him to postpone any decision until he assembles the right list of questions to put to the National Academy of Sciences, questions they will be forced to answer about the unproved science as well as the dubious “evidence” of oceans cooking away. For more authoritative commentary, please read this article by Dr. Gordon Prather, who does not believe it possible that mankind causes global warming.