Gettleman: Blame Global Warming for Fighting in Darfur

Assistant Managing Editor Richard Berke recently suggested the media may be "too evenhanded" on issues like global warming that it considers alreadysettled. There's certainly no risk of "evenhandedness" in Jeffrey Gettleman's Thursday report from Kenya, "Annan Finds 'Frightening Lack of Leadership' for Global Warming."

"Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday put the blame for global warming on 'a frightening lack of leadership,' saying the poorest people in the world, who do not even create much pollution, bear the brunt of rising temperatures.

"'The impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on the world's poorest countries, many of them here in Africa,' Mr. Annan said in a speech to a major climate conference here. "Poor people already live on the front lines of pollution, disaster and the degradation of resources and land.

"'For them,' the United Nations leader said, 'adaptation is a matter of sheer survival.'

"When pressed at a news conference afterward about his comments on poor leadership, Mr. Annan denied that he was singling out the United States the world's biggest source of the smokestack and tailpipe gases that are linked by most scientists to rising temperatures. The United States is also one of the few countries that has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the first treaty setting limits on the heat-trapping pollutants."

But how are those countries doing on actually meeting the goals of the vaunted Kyoto Protocol? As the New York Sun reports today, "overall the 15 pre-2004 members of the EU are falling behind in respect of their goal of an 8% reduction by 2012 from the level of emissions in 1990."

Gettleman even fingers global warming as a culprit in the Darfur conflict in Sudan:

"This year's conference in Nairobi, partly because it has drawn so many Africans, has focused on the possibility that those least responsible for pollution-induced climate change may suffer the most from it. Africa, one of the least industrialized areas in the world, is a case in point.

"The herders of Kenya's grassy plains, for example, whose total pollution basically boils down to their cooking fires and the few cigarettes they smoke, are being displaced by increasingly frequent droughts, which many scientists blame at least partly on global warming.

"Malaria, one of Africa's leading killers, is spreading to higher altitudes because of rising temperatures. The Sahara is expanding, turning farmland into desert and contributing to conflicts like the one in the Darfur region of Sudan. And the list goes on."

But Gettleman is stealing a base here,by citing no proof that those problems are actually linked to "pollution-induced climate change." And the unsettled (to put it mildly) state of affairs among African nations,plus the environmental movement's benightedcrackdown on the pesticide DDT, contributes more to Gettleman's list of woes than a slight increase in temperature.

Gettleman provides more apocalyptic hype.

"Still, much work remains, and the conference ends Friday. One bogged-down proposal is the effort to limit the average global temperature increase to 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit or so, which may not sound like much but would significantly change the environment. In the past century, average global temperatures have risen about 1 degree.

"Even moderate projections of warming under current emissions trends foresee four or five times that temperature increase by 2100, accompanied by a substantial rise in sea levels and disruption of climate patterns and water supplies."