When the 2004 baseball season opened earlier this month, many of those at America’s favorite major league ball parks were greeted with frigid temperatures.  The Reds and Cubs were seen warming up in wintery conditions at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.  Fans in Pittsburgh were seen bundled up in the 20 degree wind-chill by those who watched the game on ESPN.   Baltimore experienced its team’s coldest opening game in nearly two decades. 


Interestingly, while all this was going on here in the good ol’ U.S.A., on the other side of the Big Pond the European nations were hard at work hammering out the final details of their plans to  implement – you guessed it – a global warming treaty.   Needless to say, it appears the temperature was dropping on their best efforts as well.


German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder became yet another world leader to urge caution about enforcing measures to curb greenhouse gases.  Under the Kyoto Treaty, the EU is to cut its emissions by 8 percent from 2008-12.  But placing the blame squarely on the Russians, who themselves placed blame on the Americans, Schroeder said “We hope that Kyoto will be ratified, for example, by Russia.  But if that doesn’t happen, it will distort competition at the expense of European and especially German economy.”  The reason for Schroeder’s concern is well placed, for according to some estimates Germany’s compliance with Kyoto could raise home heating oil by 28 percent, gasoline and diesel by 9 and 14 percent, drop the nation’s GDP by 2.9 percent, and eliminate 1 million German jobs annually from 2008-2012.  A chilly prospect indeed for a treaty designed to stop warming.


Faced with such stark realities, other European nations are starting to follow Germany’s lead.  Italy, Spain, Denmark Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Sweden, for instance, have yet to issue drafts on how they intend to comply with the treaty.  And even Britain, which has thus far been a race leader in the preparation process, is starting to stall – but its spokesmen insist it will come out with a plan shortly.


Interestingly, this European tentativeness all comes as more and more scientific uncertainty is starting to mount challenging the evidence supporting the global warming theory.  Paolo Togni, a director to the Italian Minister of Environment, recently pointed out what greenhouse critics have long noted, that human contribution to global warming is negligible when compared with natural trends.  A study by researchers Minschwaner and Dessler suggests that global warming may be less severe than the models used by the U.N.’s IPCC predict.  And a ground-breaking study conducted by Drs. Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas continues to garner attention as it casts serious doubts on the notion that the past century has been the warmest over the past 1000 years.  Science appears to be an uncomfortable nuisance to those who want to see the treaty speedily adopted. 


While the European leaders are quick to blame the Russians as their reason for ditching the treaty, the truth of the matter is they may well be breathing a sigh of relief.  The simple fact is that when push comes to shove, no European leader should want to sign a treaty that’ll serve as a death sentence for his nation’s economic well being.  There can be little doubt that even while they were huffing and puffing with indignation against the Russians in an effort to appease their petulant Green constituencies, privately some were probably popping corks and thankful for the emergence of a willing scapegoat.  It seems the Kyoto bandwagon, which began in earnest with great expectations in 1997, is continuing to lose more and more passengers as time goes by.


President Bush, of course, deserves even more credit for showing leadership in putting the breaks on this misguided treaty.  When he first refused to go along with the Kyoto Protocol, howls of protest went up from those decrying his insensitivity to addressing this “pressing” problem.  Since then, however, nations such as Japan, Australia, Russia, and now Germany have likewise backpeddled on Kyoto compliance.  One can’t help but think, now in this baseball season, that maybe this President, a former owner of the Texas Rangers, knows when, and when not, to play ball.