More Reasons to Doubt Kyoto Solution

Copyright 1998 Omaha World-Herald
October 10, 1998

More concerns about the proposed global-warming treaty keep popping up.

A treaty was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, last year whose aim was to bring about a worldwide reduction in emissions from fossil fuels. Some scientists contend that a buildup of such gases in the atmosphere is creating a greenhouse effect, trapping heat and causing global warming. This theory is rejected by scientists who say man-made gases have little effect on climate. The debate goes on.

Meanwhile, the Clinton administration has strongly advocated that the United States ratify the Kyoto treaty, which would require America to reduce by one-third its greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. Critics contend that the resulting damage to the U.S. economy would outweigh any purported improvements in climate that might result from implementing the treaty.

The Federal Energy Information Administration has come out with predictions that support the critics' view. The agency Friday released a forecast of rising economic costs and plummeting national productivity. Gasoline prices would rise 53 percent and electricity 86 percent, the agency said. A nationwide 17 percent decline in consumption of energy would lead to a 4 percent drop in the production of goods and services.

Advocates of the treaty criticized the conclusions. "This is one of the most flawed, biased, intellectually dishonest analyses ever produced by a supposedly unbiased analytical organization," said a former federal assistant secretary of energy.

However, the projections are similar to those made by Mary H. Novak, a senior vice president of Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates in Burlington, Mass. Localizing her predictions by state, she said that in Nebraska gasoline costs would rise 65 cents per gallon. The cost of heating oil would jump 79 percent, natural gas 78 percent and electricity 80 percent. Nebraska would lose 19,000 jobs, she said. Output would sink by $ 1.6 billion and tax revenue by $ 502 million a year.

The cost of food, medicine and housing would increase as wages, salaries and social services decreased, Novak said.

Vice President Gore is an enthusiastic backer of the treaty. He has been promoting the greenhouse theory for years. He is one of the leading advocates of cutting back on the use of coal, oil and natural gas. However, the lack of a consensus is telling. The more information that comes to light about the potential downside of the treaty, the wiser it seems for the Senate, which has yet to ratify it, to be skeptical.

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