Feb 052008
Authors: Nick Hemenway

One week ago, former President Bill Clinton came to Denver to campaign for his wife’s bid for the presidency. However, staying true to himself, Bill couldn’t get his story straight.

In a speech that seemed to center more around himself than his wife, the former president claimed that half of the world hates the U.S. because we “[walked] away from the climate change treaty.”

Obviously, Clinton was making a reference to the lack of U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol, an international environmental policy that would cripple the US economy.

What he failed to mention in his speech was that he himself was the one to abandon the Kyoto Protocol.

In 1997, during his second term in office, the UN introduced this amendment to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the treaty, signing nations would commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by various amounts.

The problem with the protocol is that it called for the U.S. to reduce far more than other signers. In fact, our largest economic competitor China was completely excluded from regulations.

With such a huge burden leaned on the U.S., Clinton wisely kept his distance from the treaty.

Interestingly enough, data released from the Department of Energy show that from 1997 to 2004, our country’s emissions increased slower than most of the countries who signed the Kyoto Protocol. The emissions of countries who signed the treaty rose by 21 percent, while non-signing countries had an increase of 10 percent. The emissions of the United States rose by only 6 percent.

Soon after making this ill-conceived allegation, Clinton raised the thought that America should “slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions ’cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.”

In a time when Congress is spending over $140 billion on an economic stimulus package to avoid a recession, Bill Clinton thinks slowing our economy would be a good thing?

As crazy as it sounds, it is exactly what is at the heart of the current environmentalist movement. They want to slow down our economy and create a dependency on the government by increasing its size and scope.

If America is to lead the way to cleaner technology, let the free market be the driving force. Nearly all vehicle manufacturers are striving to produce cleaner and more efficient vehicles right now, not because they care about what Al Gore is ranting about, but rather they know they can turn a profit.

I know this because I am part of a team of engineers here at CSU who have been given the task of designing a hydraulic-hybrid vehicle that can dramatically reduce fuel consumption. It is in our best interests to design the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible because it will result in increased sales in the future.

Whether you believe in man-made global warming or not, handcuffing American ingenuity is a bad idea.

If Bill Clinton is so enthusiastic about lowering emissions, he could have allowed for the expansion of our nuclear power capabilities or other domestic energy sources during his own presidency.

But for the time being, he has resigned to taking cheap shots at others with real responsibility.

Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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