Last week, just days after Fenton Communication's El Niņo/global warming press demo, Vice President Al Gore staged a press briefing of his own to gin up support for the Clinton Administration's $6.3 billion package of energy subsidies, propaganda campaigns, and research set-asides (climate modeling, studies claiming negative impacts from warmer temperatures, etc.). Said Mr. Gore: "We know that as a result of global warming, there is more heat in the climate system, and it is heat that drives El Niņo....Unless we act, we can expect more extreme weather in the years ahead."
Fortunately, not all reporters bought this claim. Some even looked past the eco-activist A-list and consulted a few scientists. Wrote William Cook in the weekly magazine U.S. News & World Report: "The vice president says global warming is making weather more severe. Is it?...Historical evidence from earlier centuries...may call into doubt claims of a global warming-El Niņo link." Cook cites a report by Australian National University Professor Richard Grove in May 28 issue of the journal Nature showing that in the last 500 years--and long before anyone dreamed of global warming--there were 10 El Niņos every bit as severe as the one just ended.
Up on Capitol Hill, Congressmen are beginning to grumble about that $6.3 billion; "Dear Colleague" letters are flying fast and furious. The Vice President and his minions are prepared, however. Gore is already setting the stage for press briefings on the cool weather phase, the La Niņa. Any blizzards this winter--you can bank on this--will be blamed on global warming.
The National Wilderness Institute (based in Alexandria, Virginia) and EPA Watch just put U.S. EPA Administrator Carol Browner on the hot seat with a report documenting fraud, abuse, and mismanagement at the highest levels of the EPA. Backed by internal EPA memos and other supporting documents, The People vs. Carol Browner: EPA on Trial accuses the Agency of, among other things, creating and submitting backdated documents in a federal court case; requesting that career EPA scientists lobby members of Congress, in violation of federal statutes; establishing unwritten and unpublicized regulations, in violation of the Congressional Review Act; and stonewalling Congressional efforts to obtain an EPA memo outlining the Agency's strategy for implementing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions without prior Senate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
Interestingly, some of the most damning testimony comes from EPA scientists themselves. EPA microbiologist David Lewis, the target of an EPA smear campaign after he publicly criticized the Agency two years ago on the pages of the journal Nature, said EPA Administrator Carol Browner has buried scientists in bureaucratic red tape and allowed the Agency's science section to languish without a permanent head for much of her 6-year administration. Under Browner, said Lewis, the Agency has developed an "irrational approach" to protecting the environment, giving a higher priority to promulgating regulations than to developing the underlying science.
Shortly after the NWI/EPA Watch report hit the newspapers, 13 EPA scientists and staff penned a letter to the Washington Times confirming the content of the report, "protesting fraud or waste...involving hundreds of millions of dollars, and alerting the public that EPA regulations and enforcement actions based on poor science stand to harm rather than protect public health and the environment." The full text of this letter is posted on The Science & Environmental Policy Project web site at www.sepp.org; the full NWI/EPA Watch report is on-line at www.nwi.org.
Also last week, White House officials finally released to members of Congress documents they say will support the Administration's cost analysis of the Kyoto Protocol. The House Committee that requested the documents--three months ago--is now going over the numbers.
The Associated Press reported May 31st that Sister Patricia Daly and "other holy activists" from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility are using an estimated $90 billion in investments from 275 religious orders nationwide to pressure U.S. corporations on environmental issues, especially global warming. Despite the cult overtones, many U.S. churches appear to have found Mother Earth a much safer topic in recent years than hassling congregants about the ten commandments. In this case, corporate officers should brace themselves; Sister Daly has signed on for the long haul. "When the religious community is involved," she says, "it's not a one- or two-year plan."
In Britain, government officials announced that a $16 million grant from the European Union and additional subsidies from the British government will help underwrite construction of a $46 million woodburning power plant in South Yorkshire. The plant, to be fueled by scrub willows grown on marginal land, is expected to provide electricity for 18,000 people--providing a profit is much less certain.
Meanwhile the less politically correct Taiwanese have uttered the unspeakable. Taipower, the Taiwanese electric utility, concluded in a report released last month that shifting that country increasingly to nuclear energy would be the most cost-effective method of reducing carbon dioxide emissions without sacrificing economic development. Despite Taiwan's history of often violent anti-nuclear demonstrations, Taipower proposed adding six new nuclear reactors to its existing capacity. The utility also reported that Japan and Korea have come to a similar conclusion and will boost their reliance on nuclear to 40 percent by the year 2010.
Finally--since we're speaking of things nuclear--an update on an item we first reported in the November 16, 1997 edition of "The Week That Was" about an eco-activist demonstration against the launch of the plutonium-powered Cassini space probe. Our source was an article in the weekly policy magazine The New Republic by staff writer Stephen Glass, who quoted organizers saying that perhaps 100,000 demonstrators had shown their support "by staying home."
As it turns out, the inventive, twenty-something Mr. Glass very likely fabricated that story. In fact, editors at The New Republic found that Mr. Glass fabricated at least two-thirds of the 41 articles he wrote for their publication, which is why they took the rather intolerant step of firing him last month. Mr. Glass is now garnering sympathy from his fellow journalists by claiming that being fired has made him suicidal--a good strategy in a Washington culture where lying and cheating isn't considered nearly as wrong as calling someone on it. In any case, scratch the Cassini anti-nuke demonstration.
Many similar events are genuine, unfortunately.
Until next week...
This issue of TW^2 was compiled by SEPP Research Associate Candace Crandall