PRI Review

Global Monitor: Apocalyptic Infants?

Apocalyptic infants? New environmental thrust blames babies for global warming

Are babies responsible for global warming? According to the Vice-President of the United States they are. Speaking on global warming to a gathering of weathermen at the White House, Vice President Albert Gore told the meeting that the time had come for Americans to “ignore” the controversy over “family planning” and to cut allegedly out-of-control population growth.1

Discussing the “three big changes” which, the Vice President alleged, enable human beings to have a serious detrimental impact on the earth Gore said “we're now adding the equivalent of one China's worth of people every ten years now. If you put that in the perspective of the history of the human race, well, that's something very, very new.”2

If that were true it might be something significantly new, but it's not. In fact, world population grew last year by just under 80 million people which, if you multiply over ten years brings you to 800 million, which is only 75% of the more than 1.2 billion people that now make up mainland China's population. Further, the current world population trend lines make it doubtful that the earth's population will grow at 80 mil- lion per year for a decade. It seems far more likely that the numbers will continue to drop.

The Vice President also blamed alleged increases in atmospheric temperature for the eventual elimination of glaciers from Glacier National Park “in 30 years,” the recent discovery of the 5000 year old glacier man in the Italian Alps (“the ice melted” Gore said) and a recent outbreak of malaria in Detroit caused, Gore suggested, by increased temperatures.

The Vice President's last suggestion is particularly questionable when considered in light of the way the US and other first world nations have abandoned the fight against malaria over the last ten years [see story on page 1]. If US citizens begin to suffer attacks of malaria there is ample evidence the blame rests with leaders far closer to home than with the people of Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Gore also made his comments in a specific abortion context. He reminded the assembled broadcasters that “in the first few days that President Clinton was in office” he had rescinded the so-called Mexico City Policy, which had prevented money from US taxpayers from going to programs which either provided or referred for abortion. The Vice President also reminded the weathermen that he had been the one chosen to lead the US delegation to the Population and Development conference in Cairo.

Gore bemoaned the “controversy” which has sprung up about these programs in recent years, arguing that “this doesn't need to be as controversial as some people make it out to be,” an assertion which overlooked the many egregious examples of human rights abuse at the hands of population controllers over the years.

Controversy rides again

If “controversy” is what the Vice President wanted to avoid, his remarks brought forth a firestorm of it. Within a day after the Washington Times reported Gore's re- marks. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, fired back.

“Al Gore is saying that babies are to blame for air pollution,” Smith said. “I was always under the impression that pollutants were to blame for dirty air, but the Vice President has somehow discovered that the world would be a much cleaner place if all countries embraced abortion. Gore is pushing an elitist, barbaric and immoral notion that violence against babies assists the environment.”3

Human rights and other activists have not been the only groups who have disapproved of both the Vice President's remarks and the Administration's policy on alleged global warming. The Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of think tanks, research organizations, industry and consumer groups have come together to oppose the Administration on this issue. Another coalition, made up primarily of industry groups, has also coalesced and begun to run advertisements on television highlighting what they perceive as the proposed treaty's economic drawbacks.

Climatologists anyone?

A large part of the debate revolves around what does, or does not, represent scientific consensus on this issue. Citizens for a Sound Economy, one of the members of the Cooler Heads Coalition, surveyed 36 of the 54 state and regional climatologists and found that scientific consensus on the matter definitely lacking.

For example, 89% of the climatologists surveyed, all of whom hold advanced degrees, agreed that “[c]urrent science is unable to isolate and measure variations in global temperatures caused ONLY by man-made factors.” Another 97% agreed that “[t]he earth experienced large global temperature fluctuations with both warming and cooling periods prior to the beginning of the industrial age.”

The stage is set for a significant battle, both at December's treaty negotiating conference in Kyoto. Japan and in any coming vote the US Senate must hold to ratify the treaty. Sources from both sides expect the controversy to continue well into 1999.

1 Bedard, “Third World birth control tops Gore's list of 'greenhouse' cures,” Washington Times, 1 October 1997, A1.

2 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, transcript of the global warming meeting, http:/www.whitehouse.gov/Initiatives/ce/weatherrel.html.

3 Congressman Chris Smith, “Who is Al Gore to blame babies for pollution?” 3 October, 1997.

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