Richard North, 06/12/2005  

Apologies to those who could not get on the site last night. Blogger has recently upgraded its server and, in the nature of things, one suspect that they had a few glitches to sort, hence the lack of access.

Anyhow, with the attention of Brown’s pre-budget statement – with the realisation dawning that he has steadily been wrecking the economy – and (at the time of writing), as we expect the coronation of Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, it is an opportune moment to visit Mark Steyn’s column in the Telegraph.

Steyn has been doing something he does well, keeping an eye on what he delightfully calls the "eco-cultists", they being gathered at the Montreal climate conference, from where our columnist suggests the headlines are getting a little "overheated".

Far be it for me to re-invent the wheel, as Steyn's points are his own, and are best read in the context of his whole article, but once again what comes over is that Kyoto, far from being an attempt to "save the planet" is really another dreary exercise in Bush-bashing and an opportunity to indulge in the anti-Americanism, in which the cultists find so much comfort.

But what stands out – apart from the pen-picture of "apparently sane people" walking around "protesting about global warming in sub-zero temperatures" – is the news that, in the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 percent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 percent, and energy consumption has grown 45 percent. Yet, during this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 percent, toxic emissions by 48.5 percent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent.

Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the "Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet".

Had America and Australia, writes Steyn, ratified Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure that would be statistically undetectable within annual climate variation. In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower by $97 billion to $397 billion - and those are the US Energy Information Administration's somewhat optimistic models.

Steyn also hits on the negativity of the "eco-cultists" who would see the destruction of the human race in order to "save the planet", an aspect of "self-loathing" that I have observed with animal rights activists. It seems to me that they do not love animals so much as hate people – although, at times, you can see their point.

The point Steyn makes, of course, is that to maintain and improve the environment, first of all you need a successful economy and, for all their cant, the Europeans have dismally failed in this, leaving the Americans to out-perform them on every front. That, in part, explains their irrational jealousy, but only in part.

But, as always, Steyn has just the words – "Wake up and smell the CO2, guys. Sayonara, Kyoto. Hello, coalition of the emitting," he concludes. Nice payoff: "coalition of the emitting". That is one to savour.


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